February 5, 2014
Dear ASOC Colleagues and friends,
As you know, ASOC’s co-founder and long time leader is retiring. Warm wishes for Jim Barnes have poured in from all seven continents. If you would like to add your wishes to the wall of tributes on ASOC’s website, please email me a thought, poem and/or picture at firstname.lastname@example.org. Jim has graciously agreed to work what was supposed to be half time through March 31st does not seem to know what half time means, and his leadership and guidance has helped me through a tremendously important, busy and fulfilling first month on the job. I know this is a farewell, not a good bye.
Jim has already shared details of my bio in his kind farewell letter. I’ll just add what an honor it is to succeed Jim and to work with you, the ASOC community of friends and colleagues. Ironically, over the past summer, before I was aware of the opportunity to lead ASOC, I had finally gotten around, with the help of my teenage children Ali and Dash, to putting a collection of framed photographs I snapped when on a “trip to the ice” in 1989. Traveling through the Southern Ocean around the Antarctic Peninsula was a thrill beyond words, especially joining one of my heroes, Denis Puleston, who was leading his 31st voyage across "Drake’s Lake.”
However, also being part of the rescue of the stricken Bahia Paraiso and then working with colleagues at the Environmental Defense Fund to shine a light on that disaster and the very real threats to wildlife and the last wilderness, underscored the importance of our collective work. I look forward to re-joining the ongoing work to ensure Antarctica remains a place of peace and a wilderness unspoiled.
While I have big shoes to fill, I am confident that with the support of colleagues and friends, we will ensure ASOC’s enduring future as the non-governmental organization working full time to preserve the Antarctic continent and its surrounding Southern Ocean. In the coming years, we will continue towards a legacy of “no take” marine protected areas and reserves, protecting the wilderness and wildlife from encroachment and increasing a focus on Antarctica as an iconic example of the pressing need to address and reverse climate change. I appreciate you ongoing work and support.
With warm regards,
Mark S. Epstein