Longtime environmental activist (and actor) Leonardo DiCaprio has pledged to donate $7 million over the next two years to back marine conservation projects. DiCaprio, who has often said that he wanted to be a marine biologist before he became an actor, has already contributed $3 million to non-profit marine conservation group Oceana, taking his total donations to a whopping $10 million.
DiCaprio is no stranger to environmental projects. Previously he has supported electric vehicle production, provided voice overs for environmental documentaries and purchased LEED certified properties.
The Wolf of Wall Street star made the announcement at a State Department event (which runs Our Ocean), saying that his money would go toward “meaningful” ocean conservation projects over the next two years, including funding organizations and communities that are establishing marine reserves.
DiCaprio, who has spoken out about overfishing and the devastation caused by warming oceans, applauded President Obama’s recent pledge to significantly expand marine sanctuary protections in the Pacific Ocean, but added that more needs to be done by the world’s governments to protect the ocean’s ecosystems.
Related: President Obama Announces Executive Order to Fight Illegal Fishing
“It’s the Wild West on the high seas,” DiCaprio said. “These last remaining underwater bio gems are being destroyed because there isn’t proper enforcement or sufficient cooperation among governments to protect them.”
In his speech, DiCaprio, who likes to dive in his spare time, said that the environmental devastation he had witnessed firsthand off the coast of the Australian Great Barrier Reef over the past 20 years had left the once “endless underwater utopia” with bleached coral reefs and massive dead zones.
“We’re plundering the ocean and its vital resources, and just because we can’t see the devastation from dry land doesn’t mean it’s any less dangerous,” he said. “It needs to stop.”
+ Our Ocean
Images via 11th Hour and Bob Linsdell