Leonardo DiCaprio Honored as Oceana’s SeaChange Party Raises $1.4 Million

Oceana’s SeaChange summer party, hosted Saturday at the Laguna Beach private villa of Karen and Bruce Cahill, was an intimate gathering among many of the participants and celebrities of Oceana’s conservation efforts.

“We’ve been here seven years, it’s raised about $7 million for us,” said board of directors member Ted Danson. “It’s one of our more successful events.”

Personalities such as Danson, Leonardo DiCaprio, Miranda Cosgrove and Oscar Nunez attended to support Oceana’s cause, which includes the control of fisheries and the preservation of marine life.

“Yes we want to make sure that we regulate how much fish that (the fisheries) get,” said Rachael Harris, “but also what happens in the wake of those nets is that sea turtles and all kinds of different wildlife are disrupted and killed, and also the ocean floor is completely disrupted.”

Speaking about her own inspiration for attending, Jenna Ushkowitz joked about being a dolphin in her past life. “Learning more about their habitat in the ocean sparked my interest in Oceana and giving back. Oceana has such momentum and they make such large movements. I really enjoy being here.”

The Cahill’s backyard lawn, on a hill overlooking Laguna Beach, was decorated with tables and lamps for dinner, while their patio hosted a private auction space filled with jewelry, house decorations, vacations and other items that attendees could electronically place bids on.

“As I stand here tonight and look out at returning guests and new faces, I cannot help but feel an enormous sense of gratitude,” said SeaChange co-chair Valerie Van Cleave. “Your SeaChange support helps restore and protect the oceans so that children, and those children’s children, can be awed and sustained by them, just like we are today.”

After dinner, the night continued with a live auction, featuring various vacations, fashion accessories and exotic tours for the attendees to bid on. DiCaprio himself placed winning bids on two of the live auction items: a trip to the Galapagos Islands and a week-long stay on the Hemisphere super yacht in Australia.

The night’s final auction item, a tour and lunch on the set of “CSI” with Danson, was won by five families who each bought the package for $10,000. By the end of the auction, the party had raised a total of $1.4 million for Oceana .

“Oceana is already putting these funds to work to protect and restore the ocean,” said Dennis Haysbert. “All proceeds go to Oceana’s effective work to bring back the ocean’s abundance for today and the future generations.”

As this year’s honoree, DiCaprio gave a final speech, a plea to the audience to continue donating to the protection of ocean wildlife. He harkened back to his life before becoming an actor, and his dream to be a marine biologist.

“When I was 11 years old I heard about the manatees in Florida and how these docile, peaceful creatures were being injured and wiped out by human activity,” said DiCaprio. “I donated five dollars in a small manila envelope to a local organization in Florida that was working to protect these manatees and it gave me hope that there was something we could do every day, proactively, to save them.”

The night’s closing act, a pair of fire dancers, led to the opening of a dance floor where guests celebrated the remainder of the evening.

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