January Jones, Jon Hamm talk of swimming with sharks, saving oceans

Actress January Jones is a veteran of swimming with sharks — and we don't mean the ad men on "Mad Men," where she played Betty Draper.

Jones has gone swimming with sharks in Belize and Bimini, and she's not  “scared of sharks” but “scared for sharks” because of their diminishing population, she told guests gathered Saturday night when Oceana, the international ocean conservation group, celebrated its annual Sea Change Summer Party with special guest Jon Hamm, Jones' “Mad Men” co-star, and honoree Enric Sala, a marine ecologist and National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence.

The crowd: Radiating star power, the affair attracted Kiernan Shipka and Michael Gladis of "Mad Men," Oceana board member Sam Waterston of “Grace and Frankie,” Beth Behrs of “2 Broke Girls,” Nolan Gould of “Modern Family,” Aimee Teegarden of “Friday Night Lights,” Bethany Joy Lenz of “One Tree Hill,” Timothée Chalamet of “Interstellar,” and Oscar Nunez of “The Office.” Valarie Van Cleave and Eve Kornyei Ruffatto served as co-chairs, along with chair emeritus Julie Hill.

The scene: The party took place at the Strand at Headlands in Dana Point, just steps from the Pacific. Guests perused items on offer for a silent auction before strolling to a nearby tent for dinner. Inside, photographs of whales breaching the ocean’s surface and other scenes of sea life flashed on screens beside the stage, while Jones, Hamm and other speakers took turns at the podium.

Hamm started his keynote speech by warning the audience to lower their expectations. “One of (my talents) is not making speeches,” he said before launching into his talk with his familiar Don Draper charm.

Hamm spoke of growing up in St. Louis, where he learned to scuba dive in a lake in the Ozarks, before moving to California, noting as one reason, “the vast physical beauty that we have at our doorstep.”

“The idea of saving the oceans for future generations to experience it the way that we all have is very important to me,” he said, and then talked of Oceana’s setting of reasonable objectives, as he once did in a triathlon, where he broke down the long distance into less-daunting buoy-to-buoy swims.

“I hadn’t swum a half a mile in a long, long time, and I smoked a lot of cigarettes on ‘Mad Men.’ I wanted to die, but I made it,” he said, crediting, “the idea of setting achievable goals, real goals that you can see and imagine. It’s one thing to say, ‘Let’s save the oceans’… and it’s another thing to say ‘Well, let’s work on sustainable fishing.' These little goals start to add up and all of a sudden, real huge fundamental change can happen, and that’s what we’re all doing here and helping to achieve.”

Sala spoke of protecting the ocean’s most vulnerable places and praised the organization for its interest not in making headlines but “in making history.” He encouraged guests to “go crazy in the auction” and “become part of this historical legacy,” adding, “We will see results within this decade and your kids will thank you.”

 More quotes of note: In a conversation during dinner, board president Keith Addis counted Saturday’s soiree as his 33rd event on behalf of the oceans. “I grew up in Southern California, and I’m a scuba diver, and I’ve seen what’s happening to the ocean every time I’ve gone diving,” he said, later adding, “and yet, in the last five years, I’ve seen something I never thought I’d see — real progress taking place all over the world.”

The numbers: In a sellout crowd of 400, tables ranged from $10,000 to $100,000 with individual tickets priced at $2,500. Final proceeds haven’t been tabulated.

For the latest in party news, follow Ellen Olivier on Twitter @SocietyNewsLA

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