The day includes a float and a talk by Alexandra Cousteau, the granddaughter of Jacques-Yves Cousteau, the conservationist, filmmaker, photographer, and author who studied the sea. She will talk about her love of the oceans and growing up with her grandfather as her guide. Her father, Philippe, who co-produced numerous projects with Jacques, died when she was 3.
“Our oceans are in trouble,” Cousteau said. “Float for Life gives people an opportunity to reconnect with the ocean be reminded that we all have an important role to play in ocean conservation. After all, people protect what they love.”
The float promotes the environmental, economic, psychological and physical benefits of water as part of a fundraiser for the Sanibel Sea School. The school is a nonprofit focused on marine-based preservation and offers day camps, outings, and adult classes centered on wildlife and habitats in Sanibel.
“One of our favorite things to do with our campers is a soul float,” said Director of Operations Leah Biery.
A soul float is similar to a Float for Life. While being supported by life jackets or laying back on paddle and surf boards, the children float along the beach.
“We feel the water around us, catch the current,” she said. “They are feeling and connecting with the ocean and enjoying it.” And it’s done with the same goal as Float for Life.
The school is “in hopes that falling in love with the ocean will make them want to protect it,” Biery said.
In the inaugural Float year, 60 people participated, and Lynch is hoping for far more this year.
Participants will form groups of three; as one person floats, the others will support them gently for about 10 minutes. Then they will rotate.
“We believe the positive floating connection to the water will inspire individual calls to action to protect our oceans,” Lynch said. “It is pretty amazing how restorative it is. Some people feel like it’s an hour, others feel like it’s 2 minutes.”
She explained that the Gulf water is roughly the same salt content as human blood, creating a connective bond.
“When somebody is floating, they naturally feel at home because of the lightness,” she said. “When you lay in the water, you feel the quiet. The water is calming to your nervous system, and, along with the likeness of the salt content, the body lets go naturally. Muscles start to let go.”
By enforcing the body/nature connection, she said it leads to action, whether it’s “picking up plastic bags or straws on the beach or voting your conscience at the polls.”
Participants will receive an eco-friendly water bottle and samples of Earth-friendly sun screen.
Biery said the school is enjoying the partnership with Float for Life.
“We’re always amazed about how well the communities of Sanibel and Fort Myers come out to support us,” she said.
The granddaughter of Jacques-Yves Cousteau, known for his ABC show “The Undersea World of Jacques Cousteau” from 1966-76, will speak about her famous family and her conservation work at the second annual Float for Life at Pink Shell in Fort Myers Beach.
“After our first year, we wanted someone to draw more people and bring awareness to ocean conservation,” said Float for Life founder Shelley Lynch, a mental health therapist from Orlando.
Alexandra Cousteau founded Blue Legacy, a non-profit organization to empower people to reclaim and restore the world’s water, one community at a time.
She has co-hosted “Blue August” on the Discovery Channel and was chief correspondent on water issues for Dicovery’s “Planet Green.”
She lives in Washington, D.C., and Berlin.
Connect with this reporter on Twitter @stacey_henson