Notes by Claudia Potamkin: The International SeaKeepers Society
The unlikely partnership of yachts and science brings answers to critically important questions.
Environmental issues endangering our oceans impact our lives exponentially with each passing year. Areas where we used to swim are often off limits. Fish we feasted on are unsafe for consumption or facing outright extinction. Science shows the health of the oceans is critically important to the sustenance of human life and there is much we need to learn about sea life below the surface, but how?Due to the retirement of research vessels and the rising cost of vessel charter, it’s become increasingly difficult for scientists to obtain samples and collect research data.
Enter The International SeaKeepers Society, which advances oceanographic research, and marine conservation through its foremost initiative, the DISCOVERY Yacht Program. Connecting directly with yacht owners, vessel costs (which can often take up about 90% of an expedition’s budget), are eliminated and scientists can dedicate those funds to maximize research potential. Its reach spans from chapters in the UK, Singapore and France….…but The International SeaKeepers Society happens to be headquartered in Coral Gables.Scientist-led Expeditions provide yacht owners, guests, and crew the opportunity to participate in ongoing research while engaging with influential, well-established marine scientists. Think of an educational day out on the water with your child’s class or your favorite youth organization. The entry fee for membership is merely saying yes with the monetary costs being tax-deductable.
This is one arena where size does matter and while large yachts can embark on more complex missions for days, weeks or longer if they choose, there is great need for smaller vessels with shallow drafts that can get into areas larger yachts cannot. In any body of water, anywhere in the world at any time of year, valuable research is needed, and liaisons will meet your vessel there.
Miami realtor, Aaron Goldstein expressed his love for the ocean and the bay, having been born and raised here. “My kids volunteer for beach clean- ups but I felt frustrated and overwhelmed, wishing there was something more I could do.” A chance meeting with SeaKeepers Program Director Tony Gilbert in 2019 brought him the opportunities he was looking for and he was soon conducting shark tagging expeditions off Elliot Key and Fisher Island on his 24’ center console Sailfish. In response to the Massive Fish Kill of 2020, he did invaluable water sampling day trips with UM marine Biology Students and professors. ”I’m not a scientist,” says Aaron, “…but I’m helping in a way that matters and I feel a level of respect for the waters that comes along with owning a boat.
Don and Denise Bermant met on a scuba diving trip in Mexico in 1986. They divide their time between Key Largo and British Columbia, keeping boats in each locale. They became acquainted with SeaKeepers during the four years it took to obtain permission to cruise to Cuba. Seakeepers had been instrumental in acquiring governmental clearance during a flexible window of time in 2017 and arranged for a two-month underwater Photographic Expedition with the adventurous couple on their Fleming 78′. When the Bermants informed SeaKeepers that they’d be exploring Alaska one summer on their Fleming 65’, Tony put them together with a group of 4 renowned whale researchers on a project funded by the Carl Sagan Institute. “Hosting guests we’d never met before for an extended period of time on a small boat, was a fantastic experience”, Denise Bermant said. She told me fascinating stories of what they’d learned and witnessed during their missions, which I’d share with you, had I the space and time. \Suffice it to say that when SeaKeepers calls, the Bermants are happy to answer.My enthusiasm for the program was fueled when I purchased a Mangusta 72” in 2014. I was planning a trip to the Bahamas and coordinated a day with a class of school children in Bimini. Though born and raised on the island, most of the 7-11th graders had never been on a boat before. We collected water samples, studied them under microscopes we’d brought onboard and launched a NOAA drifter and talked for hours. The kids left with a new appreciation for the oceans’ importance and awareness of environmental issues. They were changed and so was I, for the experience.
Claudia Potamkin began her professional career in media as a sportscaster in the late 70’s, producing sports news for News/talk radio WNWS and ABC’s Channel 10, as well as broadcasting play-by-play and color commentary for Miami Hurricanes baseball on WVUM. She has written, produced and voiced commercials and documentaries since the early ’80’s.
Claudia is a founding partner in genConnectu, a premier online educational website which connects users with over 3,000 world class experts providing courses on topics including career, finance, health, relationship, lifestyle and giving back. In addition to interviews with experts for Genconnectu, Claudia conducts author interviews at Books&Books and is a frequent master of ceremonies and moderator for various organizations.
Claudia has served on the boards of civic and charitable organizations for over 40 years. She is the proud mother of three who is pleased to fulfill her responsibilities. Responsibility = the ability to respond. Claudia feels it is a duty and an honor to respond to the needs of her local and global communities.