Press Release

Stephanie Stone (415) 379-5121

SAN FRANCISCO (July 30, 2007) – Global climate change and the health of the world's oceans are inextricably linked. Wallace J. Nichols, a Research Associate at the California Academy of Sciences, brings this complicated relationship to light in Leonardo DiCaprio's new environmental documentary film, "The 11th Hour." The film will premier on August 17 in Los Angeles and New York and will debut in San Francisco on August 24. Dr. Nichols joins an esteemed group of thought leaders, including reformer Mikhail Gorbachev, physicist Stephen Hawking, and Nobel Prize winner Wangari Maathai in the film. "The 11th Hour" documents the grave problems facing the planet's life systems and calls for restorative action through a reshaping of human activity. Global warming, deforestation, mass species extinction, and depletion of ocean habitats are all addressed.

"It was an honor to be asked to work with Leo and the producers on 'The 11th Hour' because it offers an intensely honest and thorough look at our planet's most urgent environmental problems and also the real solutions that exist," said Nichols. "Climate change is the most pressing issue we face because it affects most aspects of our environment, including the ocean and its wildlife."

The ocean's temperature and currents dictate global climate, and climate change, in turn, affects the ocean by altering the chemical composition and temperature of the water. Ocean habitats and wildlife are directly impacted by the absorption of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, for instance, which is making ocean water more acidic, creating a corrosive agent and resulting in oxygen loss. The ocean is also warming, and ocean life has responded by moving poleward. This change in behavior results in negative economic impacts for communities that lose sources of fishing and other ocean-related income. Warmer water is also exacerbating coral reef bleaching in places where productive ecosystems once thrived around living reefs. "We must not forget that, even at this time of great challenge, there are solutions that we can apply to solve crises in the ocean. The film presents some important solutions that are beneficial for everyone to learn about," added Nichols.  "The message of the film is made very clear: the hope is us, and the moment for change is now. My daughter Grayce, who also appears in 'The 11th Hour,' will grow up on a planet that is healthier and safer, thanks to the solutions inspired by my colleagues in this film."

For more information on the movie and when it will come to a theater near you, visit

Dr. Wallace J. Nichols
Wallace "J." Nichols, a Research Associate at the California Academy of Sciences, has dedicated his career to the study of sea turtle ecology and ocean conservation. His many projects incorporate participatory science, social networking, and creative communication to inspire a healthier relationship with the sea. In 1998 he founded the Grupo Tortuguero, an international grassroots movement dedicated to restoring Pacific sea turtles and to sustainable management of ocean fisheries. In 1999 he co-founded and for five years directed WiLDCOAST, an international conservation team dedicated to the protection of coastal wilderness and endangered sea turtles. He is the author of the children's book Chelonia: Return of the sea turtle, which has been translated to Spanish and is distributed throughout Mexico to underprivileged youth. He is also co-author of the screenplay Adelita's Journey, based on the true story of one loggerhead sea turtle's epic 24,000 km migration from Japan to Mexico and back home again. J. continues to share his research with millions of school children around the world through school and aquarium visits, field trips, the Internet and various publications and writing projects. He is also a senior scientist at the Ocean Conservancy.

Education and Research at The California Academy of Sciences
The Academy is an international center for scientific education and research and is at the forefront of efforts to understand and protect the diversity of Earth's living things. The Academy has a staff of over 50 professional educators and Ph.D.-level scientists, supported by more than 100 Research and Field Associates and over 300 Fellows. It hosts eight scientific research departments in the fields of anthropology, aquatic biology, botany, entomology, herpetology, ichthyology, invertebrate zoology & geology, and ornithology & mammalogy.


The California Academy of Sciences is home to Steinhart Aquarium, Morrison Planetarium and the Kimball Natural History Museum. The Academy is in the midst of an extensive rebuilding project in Golden Gate Park. Pritzker prize-winning architect Renzo Piano is designing the new Academy, which is scheduled to open on September 27, 2008. (415) 379-8000.

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