Sir Arthur C Clarke

the Conservationist

Arthur C Clarke was not only a diver, underwater explorer and photographer, but also a keen marine conservationist.

Through his books, articles, photos and TV shows, Clarke helped us to better understand the enormous potential of the oceans for food, minerals and energy. At the same time, he called for humankind to be better stewards of the living and non-living resources of the ocean.

Arthur C Clarke’s 1960 book The Challenge of the Sea took a historical and futuristic look at humankind’s relationship with the sea – it remained a standard reference for marine enthusiasts and scientists for many years.

He was especially vocal in promoting coastal and marine conservation in his adopted homeland of Sri Lanka.

His agitation through the media and public talks led to a ban on coral mining for use in the construction industry. In the early 1980s, Underwater Safaris and Sir Arthur played a key role in persuading the government to declare the Hikkaduwa marine sanctuary (now upgraded to a Marine National Park).

“ Human judges can show mercy. But against the laws of Nature, there is no appeal. ”

– Arthur C Clarke

“ Human judges can show mercy. But against the laws of Nature, there is no appeal. ”

– Arthur C Clarke

For decades, he used every conceivable argument to call on the authorities to enforce existing laws and regulations for protecting coral reefs. In a newspaper interview in April 1984, for example, he posed the query: “Ask your readers this question: which is the greater danger – the terrorists who want to divide the country, or the people (coral miners) who are literally destroying it?”

Clarke was badly shaken by the Indian Ocean tsunami of December 2004 that killed over 30,000 coastal residents in Sri Lanka within a few hours. It also destroyed his diving company’s installation in Hikkaduwa.

“The best tribute we can pay to all who perished or suffered in this disaster is to heed its powerful lessons,” he said in an article written within a few days. “Nature has spoken loud and clear, and we ignore her at our peril.”

Our Planet magazine, June 1998

Sri Lankans Remembering Arthur C Clarke