Wu: Well, some problems are bigger than tourism. Coral reefs might perish due to global warming despite anyone's best efforts. But it's also true that in the diving community there have been many success stories where ecotourism has saved coral reefs. In Indonesia, for example, a resort called Kungkungan Bay Resort has been a great force in marine conservation efforts in North Sulawesi. Diving operations and the divers who travel to them seem to bring conservation efforts to any area where the two come together - the diving operations have a financial stake in seeing their clients dive on healthy reefs. Places like Bonaire and Grand Cayman, they've all established marine parks because of divers. But divers are a small minority of the population. I also wonder how many of these ecotourists tell other countries that they are polluting, then go home to huge SUVs and houses that are 6,000 square feet and have to be air-conditioned against the summer heat.

American Way: Is there hope?
Wu: Sure. There are great things going on. People have shown that it's possible to produce an awareness campaign that can actually save a species of fish. A good example is Atlantic swordfish. An organization called
SeaWeb got all the chefs in New York to stop serving this highly threatened fish. The chefs did so, and Atlantic swordfish rebounded. Unfortunately, they've since stopped the campaign and it's the same story now. But there's still plenty of good news. Completely off-limits marine reserves have been established, and they have helped protect reefs and fish. TEDs [turtle excluder devices, which let shrimp pass into the main net while ejecting the turtles back into the wild] installed in shrimp trawlers have helped turtle populations rebound in the Gulf of Mexico since they are no longer caught and killed in the nets.

American Way: What is it about our oceans that gives you the most joy?