Oceans of Plastic Stew

July 22, 2012 by  
Filed under Blog, Environment, Front Page, Litter, Ocean, Slideshow

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It’s mighty easy to throw away a plastic bag or plastic cup-lid, and then think nothing of it. Into the wastebasket it goes — out of sight, out of mind — and then into the trash bin, and then into the waste truck, then to the landfill. Plastic indefinitely clogging our terrestrial landfills constitutes its own problem, but an alarming amount of this detritus ends up in our drainage systems. It may take years, but these scraps may eventually find themselves adrift in the ocean — ultimate receiver of the continents’ freshwater output — thousands of miles from their factory origin, let alone the site of their discarding.

In recent years, firsthand observation has borne out the predictions of oceanographers: Much of this marine litter, as it’s called, ultimately turns up contained in and by the loops of rotating currents called gyres that mark each ocean basin. The spin of the earth and the heat-driven coasting of winds help create these prevailing current configurations. Ocean-borne debris is drawn into the encircling “highways” of the gyre, then edged into the calm waters of its center — where they remain….

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Sailors for the Sea Encourages Ocean Conservation

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As the official sustainability partner with America’s Cup, Sailors for the Sea is reaching their largest audience to date.

Sailors for the Sea educates sailors and boaters about protecting the oceans. Their partnership with America’s Cup, a race between two yachts that is the oldest trophy in international sport, allows them to reach sailors from countries around the world.

“Now, we are moving to an international level,” explains Dan Pingaro, CEO. “[Sailors] can make a positive difference on the ocean,” he says.

Pingaro says involving sailors is imperative because of the problems facing our oceans today, including a changing pH balance and plastics floating in the water. The changing pH balance has an impact on shellfish, coral fish, and feeder fish for larger ocean dwellers. And plastic trash is the major component of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, among other polluted areas….

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Eye of the Whale by Douglas Carlton Abrams

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Intrigue. Romance. Danger. Life. Death. Loyalty. Betrayal. Eye of the Whale has what it takes to get a reader’s pulse racing clear to the last page. But there’s more to this novel than a mystery. After years of thorough research, author Douglas Carlton Abrams has skillfully woven a tale that teaches as much as it entertains. Abrams combines hard scientific facts about the pollution that threatens the world’s sea creatures with a page-turning thrill ride.

Eye of the Whale is an excellent literary vehicle for making the current threat of pollution immediate and real. The author accomplishes this by creating characters — not all of them human — that readers come to know and care about. From a mother whale who begins a new, mysterious song that carries around the world to a ravenous shark whose violent kills are simply a means of survival to a male whale stranded in a California river, the animals have compelling plot lines that draw the reader in.

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BLUE Ocean Film Festival and Conservation Summit Coming to Monterey

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Monterey, California, is a lovely seaside community with a world-class aquarium. It’s long been a vacation destination for ocean enthusiasts. And now, it is the new, permanent setting for the BLUE Ocean Film Festival and Conservation Summit.

If you’re planning to be in Northern California August 24–29, consider attending the festival to see the year’s leading films about the wonders of the ocean, to hear lectures and panel discussions by leading ocean researchers, to view an ecstatically beautiful photo exhibit by National Geographic photographer David Doubilet, and to participate in other exciting events….

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Saving Dolphins

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When the Oscar award-winning film, The Cove, was released last year, I resisted seeing it. The trailers upset me. I anticipated that the film would be emotionally devastating. I love dolphins. I have warm memories of watching the television program Flipper as a child. I’ve been thrilled to see a pod of dolphins playfully dive in and out of the water as they passed by a time-share condo in Florida that I once shared with my grandmother and my sister.

I’ve experienced a combination of emotions when seeing dolphins perform in various aquariums around North America: joy, sadness, curiosity, concern. I’ve sat by the window in the subterranean viewing area of our Vancouver Aquarium, watching the Pacific white-sided dolphins swim up to the window and wondering at how healthy and happy they are in their bleak enclosure.

I finally was convinced by my teenage son to watch The Cove this week. We downloaded it from our cable provider, and my son, husband and I sat down to watch it together. It was even more emotionally devastating than I had anticipated.

By the time the film was over, I felt completely emotionally overwhelmed. There were deep, deep sobs heaving within me, threatening to engulf me, but I wanted to debrief the film with my son. So I released a few tears and took a few deep breaths. We talked first of all about the dolphins in our local aquarium….

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Nominate an “Ocean Hero” for Oceana Contest

March 24, 2010 by  
Filed under 2010, Activists, Blog, Contest, Front Page, Ocean, Slideshow, Youth

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There are people around the world who are doing their utmost to stop the destruction of our oceans. People who are putting themselves at risk to make the world’s seas a more habitable place for fish and marine animals. People, including youth, who are making a difference by raising funds to support the work of others. People who not only care about the oceans, but also take action. Each one is a hero, though their efforts may be untrumpeted and little known.

But people who are selflessly working to make the oceans a healthier ecosystem deserve recognition for their efforts.

Do you know anyone who is making a difference to the world’s oceans? If you do, here’s an opportunity to nominate him or her for recognition as an “Ocean Hero,” through a competition sponsored by the conservation group Oceana. Nominations will be accepted at the official contest website, Oceana.org/heroes, until April 18, 2010.

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Surfers Against Sewage Sponsors “Barefoot Friendly Beach Cleaning Tour”

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Surfers Against Sewage (SAS) is a volunteer organization dedicated to “clean, safe recreational water, free from sewage effluents, toxic chemicals, nuclear waste and marine litter.” Even landlocked folks like Joe and me, here in the Iowa Heartland, are joining the cause. We all need clean water. And we want beaches that are safe enough to walk on with bare feet. But clean beaches are growing scarce. Stories of medical waste, plastic bottles, cigarette butts, raw sewage, and disposable diapers make walking even remote beaches potentially unsafe and, often, unappealing.

In the next few days, SAS and Barefoot Wine and Bubbly will be hosting a beach cleanup tour on the shores of Britain. Join fellow environmentalists from 3 to 5 P.M. at the sites listed below. According to SAS’s Andy Cummins, as posted on the SAS website, “[V]olunteers can expect the afternoon clean-up sessions will kick off with a full introduction and briefing from the respected eco-campaigners at SAS. Each volunteer will then be given gloves and a rubbish bag and the marine litter-picking will commence. All volunteers need bring is suitable clothing for the weather”…

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TED Challenges Old Thinking with Inspired Ideas

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When I first heard of TED, I thought (admit it, some of you did, too) that TED was a person. I soon learned that the word is an acronym for Technology, Entertainment, and Design. If you’re not yet familiar with TED, you’re missing out on a phenomenal resource for ideas worth hearing. The site hosts lectures, called TED Talks, by some of “the world’s most fascinating thinkers and doers, who are challenged to give the talk of their lives (in 18 minutes).” While I’ve viewed only a fraction of the 400+ TED Talks posted on the website, I’ve never been disappointed by the quality of the speaker or the importance of the information shared.

But, in my estimation, as brilliant as any speaker is the idea of TED itself…

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