Santiva Chronicle

April 12, 2016


Gulf Expert Dr. Jack Davis presents America’s Sea in Two Earth Day Talks

By Santiva Chronicle


Dr. Jack Davis, professor of history at University of Florida, will be speaking about the history and hopes of the Gulf of Mexico in two talks Earth Day talks on Friday, April 22. He is on the islands thanks to a cooperative effort between the Florida Endowment for the Humanities, Captiva Island Historical Society and the Sanibel-Captiva Conservation Foundation. He will be presenting at SCCF’s Nature Center at 1 p.m. and at Captiva’s Civic Center at 5:30 p.m.


“No one has completed a comprehensive history of the Gulf, so I saw an opportunity waiting. I embarked on my project before the 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster, which heightened the importance of writing the book,” Dr. Davis said. “The BP spill has come to define how Americans see the Gulf and their relationship with it, and in some ways has stolen its true identity. Yet the BP oil spill is not the worst environmental assault the Gulf has suffered.”


He goes on to say, “Ongoing activities on and upstream of the Gulf represent a daily environmental disaster that exceeds the 2010 summer nightmare.” Islanders can appreciate his point of view by looking upstream to the Caloosahatchee River as a living river and not a convenient canal called the C-43.


In his more than seven years of research he traveled the coast including Sanibel and Captiva noting not only stories of the past, but also the current role the Gulf plays in our everyday lives – food, reflection, recreation and weather to name a few. Dr. Davis describes his determination to record the history of the Gulf in a new book, due out in early 2017.


“Having grown up on the Gulf of Mexico, where waterways were my streets, docks were my sidewalks, a little motorboat my bicycle, and a rod and reel my ball and bat, I was drawn to writing its history,” Dr. Davis said.


Dr. Davis enjoys speaking to those curious of mind more than academicians. It is fortunate there are two different locales and times to attend his program.


“I think it is important for Americans to fully understand the role the Gulf has played historically in the lives of Americans, and that the sea shares more with us- emotionally, culturally, and economically—when we respect rather than try to dominate its natural systems,” he said.