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Jon Hamm was in a jokey mood at the 8th annual SeaChange Summer Party to benefit Oceana, the world’s largest advocacy group dedicated to marine conservation, on Aug. 2. Injecting humor into an evening filled with dispatches about the group’s successes — Oceana helped shut down sardine fishing off the coast of California on July 1 for a year to let starving sea lion populations rebound — Hamm relayed that he’d first learned to scuba dive while growing up in St. Louis, Missouri, an area “not exactly known for its beaches. I was certified as a scuba diver in a lake in the Ozarks. So I know how to do it but it was kinda gross.”
The Mad Men star also humorously pivoted off the evening’s many calls to save the oceans for children and coming generations. “When I see that the oceans are endangered, it troubles me and it makes me personally want to do something. That’s why we’re all here. I don’t have children,” he said, before then tacking on, “That I know of.” Backtracking on his joke, he added, “Doesn’t make any sense. That’s not a joke that people should say. You shouldn’t. No one should say that joke ever.”
Hamm told THR he joined the evening’s festivities as a co-host because of his friendship with Industry Entertainment co-founder and Oceana board president Keith Addis, who once represented Mad Men creator Matt Weiner. Oceana, said Hamm, “is a really incredible organization. They do affect real change.”
The fundraiser also honored National Geographic explorer-in-residence Enric Sala, who has worked with Oceana on creating large marine conservation areas — “the Yellowstones and Serengetis of the sea,” as he put it — such as Chile’s 58,000-square-mile Sala y Gomes Marine Park, which dramatically expanded the country’s protected ocean areas.
Of particular concern to Oceana is the tremendous toll that out-of-control fishing is taking on the world’s shark population. Hamm’s co-star January Jones, an official Oceana ambassador, has made saving sharks one of her missions, starring in PSA’s for the group in which she swims with sharks. She told the crowd that her three-year-old son has become just as fascinated with sharks. “His knowledge of sharks is starting to rival mine. He keeps asking how old he has to be to go swimming with sharks with me. He’s very anxious to grow up and maybe swim alongside a whale shark with me in Belize… I haven’t yet told him that by the time he’s old enough there may not be very many left to swim with.” Jones cautioned that an estimated 100 million sharks are killed every year, many only for their fins to make shark fin soup.
The sold-out event, held at The Strand in Dana Point, Calif., drew 400 guests, including Mad Men stars Kiernan Shipka and Michael Gladis, Oceana board member Sam Waterson, producer Keri Selig (Addis’s wife), actors Aimee Teegarden and Oscar Nunez and Olympic gold medalist Aaron Peirsol, an Oceana ambassador.
Another name, oddly enough, who got attention during the evening was Ambrose Bierce, the American satirist whose active writing years were during the late 1800s and early 1900s. He was quoted twice by Hamm during his speech, though only once correctly. Said Hamm, “A very famous American named Ambrose Bierce is a fellow Midwesterner who also moved out to the Pacific. He wrote over 100 years ago, ‘Ocean as defined is a body of water occupying two-thirds of the world, a world made for man who has no gills.’ ”
Hamm noted that the even though humans don’t have gills, “The oceans delight us and provide us entertainment and they also sustain us and feed us. They’ve taken care of us and it is now time for us to take care of them.”
As for the second Bierce quote? Joked Hamm, “He also said, ‘It’s not the size of the boat, it’s the motion in the ocean.’ … Oh he didn’t say that? He didn’t say that at all? OK. I’m really sorry. Ted Danson told me that he said that and I feel bad about that. He clearly lied to me.”
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