PITTSBURG -- Keisha Sunga has a whole new perspective on white sand beaches and the sex life of squid, thanks to a talk about the wonders of the ocean and the need to protect it by explorer and environmentalist Jean-Michel Cousteau.
"It's pretty crazy ... all that (sand) on the beach. I didn't know that squid died after they do their business. It's a whole different world," Sunga, a junior at Pittsburg High, said after learning much of the white sand on beaches is derived from the excrement of parrot fish, who ingest tiny bits of coral while feeding on algae, and that squid die after spawning.
Such nuggets of information were shared by Cousteau during a presentation that included clips from his documentaries.
More than 1,000 students from Antioch High, Deer Valley High, Dozier-Libbey Medical High, Mount Diablo High, Gateway High, Pittsburg High and Synergy Charter School attended the talk at the Creative Arts Building at Pittsburg High School.
The 75-year-old oceanographer and environmentalist encouraged students to think about every action they took and its impact on the ocean, along with the rain and snow that ends up in rivers that flow back into the ocean.
"We are using the ocean as a garbage can. We need to stop that. We are connected to the ocean one way or another -- when you drink a glass of water you are connected to the ocean," said the Cousteau, the son of ocean explorer Jacques Cousteau.
In response to a question from a student on what was it like to be a world explorer, Cousteau said, "There are thousands and thousands of species that have yet to be discovered. How can you protect what you don't understand? ... When people ask me, what was your best expedition, I always say the next one."
Cousteau, the founder of the Ocean Futures Society, a Santa Barbara-based nonprofit marine conservation and education group, was in the Bay Area for a Wednesday evening talk at the Lesher Speaker Series in Walnut Creek. On Thursday, he was to leave for the Bimini Islands to film a documentary on hammerhead sharks.
The school event was sponsored by the Contra Costa Water District, Delta Diablo, Golden State Water, Republic Services and Dow Chemical.
Tyler Trent and Angel Casey, who are in an AP environmental class at Antioch High School, were among those who attended.
"I loved it. It was very good," Trent, a senior, said.
He added that the video clips "were very informative of how the actions we take affect the wildlife in the ocean."
"It made me want to go out and do better," said Casey, a junior. "Everything does come from ocean. I didn't think of that," before the presentation.
Contact Eve Mitchell at 925-779-7189. Follow her at Twitter.com/EastCounty_Girl.