On Friday night, with the skyline of Manhattan serving as backdrop, MC and Oceana Board Member Ted Danson led Oceana’s New York City Gala in honoring two actors who have been longtime advocates for the oceans.

Morgan Freeman at Oceana New York Gala
Morgan Freeman at Oceana New York Gala

Sam Waterston, honored with a tribute video and introduced by former President Bill Clinton, spoke about Oceana’s effectiveness at winning policy victories for the oceans. “Organizations like Oceana are making wonderful and real changes, which are literally saving the future,” he said in his remarks. “There is a lot of terrific stuff getting done, and the oceans’ response to that kind of good treatment can be breathtaking: the ocean’s natural state is abundance.”

Morgan Freeman was also recognized for his lifelong commitment to the oceans. A blue water sailor and a long-time supporter of Oceana, Freeman thanked Oceana and the supporters in attendance for protecting the oceans, which he called his “second home.”

Nile Rodgers and CHIC Perform at Oceana New York Gala

Oceana CEO Andy Sharpless rallied attendees to take action in support of the Shark Fin Trade Elimination Act. “We have to end the sale and trade of shark fins in the U.S.,” he told the crowd. “Only then can we be an example to the rest of the world.” Sharpless also previewed Oceana’s campaign against plastic pollution, set to launch early next year. “Every time a company chooses to make a plastic package, they are producing persistent toxic waste,” he said. “Ocean plastic is not a litter problem, it’s a pollution problem.”

“Plastic pollution is one of the greatest challenges we face as ocean conservationists,” said Oceana Board Member Susan Rockefeller, who hosted the event along with her husband and fellow Oceana board member, David Rockefeller, Jr. “The campaign to address this urgent problem is vitally important. I thank everyone who attended our 2018 Gala and cannot wait to get them further involved as we fight to save the oceans”

The event was held at The Rainbow Room, an iconic venue 65 stories above Rockefeller Center. The evening concluded with a live musical performance by Nile Rodgers and CHIC, whose hour-long set included hits like “Le Freak,” “Everybody Dance” and “Get Lucky.”

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