Carrie Newell

The actor and environmental activist talks about the ocean, the best beaches, and the beauty of breaching whales

Peter Fish  – January 22, 2007 | Updated February 11, 2019

His first visits to the beach:

When I was growing up in Arizona, we’d go to SouthernCalifornia each summer and rent a cottage in Laguna Beach or SanClemente. The beach was a dream come true for me.

Becoming an ocean advocate:
During my Cheers days, I started making money. And I realized money isa responsibility. What do you do with it? You can get things done.

The environmental group Oceana:
I’m on the board. We have 90 people working full time on ocean issues, with offices around the globe. The world’s fisheries are on the brink of collapse. One-third of the fish we catch are just thrown overboard and lost. Bottom trawling destroys coral reefs. We’re attacking those problems.

His favorite beach:
My wife Mary Steenburgen and I live at Malibu. It’s a great beach for taking long walks. If you’re into surfing, there are two or three good spots by Malibu Pier.

On having fun in the waves:
I do a little kayaking. I love to bodysurf. When it comes to actual surfing, I’m still an Arizona kid ― slightly scared.

His most memorable ocean encounter:
We went whale-watching near Juneau and saw a pod of humpbacks do this thing called bubble feeding. One whale swims in circles to make a curtain of bubbles that panic the fish. Six other whales dive down deep to get them. Then the whales all rise up and breach through the ring of bubbles.

The best things people can do to protect the sea:
Find a group to work with. There’s Oceana, the Surfrider Foundation, Heal the Bay here in L.A., lots of local groups. Don’t get discouraged. But do get active.

Emmy-winning actor Ted Danson lives in Malibu, CA. He plays Dr.Bill Hoffman in ABC’s Help Me Help You. For information on Oceana, visit

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