B oulder is about 1,300 miles from the Pacific Ocean, give or take a few miles depending on the coastal destination.

Those miles are a minor inconvenience for Vicki Nichols Goldstein, founder of the Colorado Ocean Coalition, a nonprofit group in its second year that seeks to promote ocean conservation efforts even though the ocean is far away.

The Colorado Ocean Coalition will host its second Making Waves ocean symposium Oct. 20-21 at the University of Colorado. The keynote speaker will be Jean-Michel Cousteau, son of legendary ocean explorer and co-inventor of the Aqualung, the late Jacques Cousteau.

Even though Boulderites can't see the ocean, their actions affect it, Goldstein said. The rain that falls on the Front Range, the seafood Colorado grocery stores import, the number of cars on U.S. 36 -- it all ties back to the oceans, Goldstein said.

"We live on an ocean planet," she said. "The health of the ocean is critical to our survival, and we are a player in that journey."

Keynote speaker Jean-Michel Cousteau founded the Ocean Futures Society in 1999 to serve as a "voice for the ocean." Cousteau is the mouthpiece for the society, working toward environmental policy that will preserve the environment, specifically the ocean and marine life.

Cousteau, who created the organization after his father's death to preserve his philosophies, has produced more than 80 films.


He said Coloradans should be concerned about ocean preservation because they live near water's source -- snowmelt from the Rocky Mountains.

"There's only one water system," Cousteau said during a phone interview from the Ocean Futures Society office in Santa Barbara, Calif. "The next time you ski or have a drink of water, you're skiing on the ocean or drinking the ocean."

He pointed out that Colorado's (especially Boulderites') fascination with the outdoors gives the state the highest number of scuba divers per capita in the nation.

During his keynote, Cousteau said, he will outline the responsibilities that humans have to "stop using the ocean as a garbage can and a universal sewer." Because of improvements in underwater technology, researchers know more than ever about the oceans, Cousteau said, which means they can pass along that information to help prevent further pollution and destruction.

Other speakers will touch on plastic pollution, overfishing, ocean acidification and other topics, Goldstein said.

When describing why it's important to understand these issues, Cousteau emphasized the unique nature of Earth. When NASA released photos of a Mars river bottom earlier this fall, Cousteau said, he heard people talk about how much the river bottom looked like earth's river bottoms.

"The difference is there is no water there," he said. "There is no water and there is no life. So we are learning from our solar system how privileged and lucky we are to be on this planet of ours."

--Follow Sarah Kuta on Twitter: @SarahKuta.

If you go

What: Making Waves ocean symposium and film festival

When: Film festival, Oct. 20; symposium, Oct. 21

Where: Film festival, The Dairy Center for the Performing Arts, 2590 Walnut St., Boulder; symposium, University of Colorado Wolf Law Building, 2450 Kittredge Loop Road

More info: http://coloradoocean.org/; http://thedairy.org/