07/15/2009 at 03:00 PM EDT
To say Minnie Driver is passionate about sea creatures is an understatement.
"Having my son and swimming with humpback whales were the two most religious experiences in my life," says the actress, who gave birth to son Henry
last September and dove in the open ocean with 50-ton whales for a documentary back in 2006.
So when the chance arose to volunteer and lend her name this summer to a new campaign aimed at rescuing marine wildlife, she dove right in. "I was raised to believe that we are custodians of this planet," says the actress, 39, who spent time last month feeding distressed seals and sea lions at California's Marine Mammal Center, and is now acting as the spokesperson for Dawn's Everyday Wildlife Champions
"This opportunity came up to be a part of something that brought something as everyday as Dawn washing-up liquid together with this Marine Mammal Center that I have worked with and that I love and support wildly," says Driver. "It just seemed like a great marriage."
"Celebrity is such a weird thing. It can really shine a light on stuff, which is the great aspect of it," adds Driver, who notes that money raised through the campaign will go towards both the MMC and the International Bird Rescue Research Center. So, if someone makes a donation by buying a bottle of Dawn, or just Googles one of the centers because of her involvement, she says, "That's a good thing!"
As part of the Everyday Wildlife Champions program, Driver is encouraging others concerned about the plight of marine wildlife to join a new Facebook page
dedicated to connecting like-minded individuals.
"We just have to remember that we're at the top of the food chain. And as Spiderman says, 'With power comes great responsibility,'" says Driver, chuckling at herself. "I don't know why I quoted Spider-Man there, but it seems quite appropriate. We've got to do stuff or our kids are not going to have animals left or any oceans that we can swim in."
Read more about Driver's passion for marine animals on PEOPLE Pets