The Blog Aquatic

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The Blog Aquatic

News, opinions, photos and facts from Ocean Conservancy

About Catherine Fox

Senior editor Catherine Fox has a keen ear for storytelling and seeks out the most compelling people, science and news to inspire fellow ocean conservationists. Her ocean connection began with a childhood spent fishing, kayaking and swimming along Virginia’s Rappahannock River, which flows to Chesapeake Bay and on to the Atlantic. Catherine lives in Herndon, Virginia, and her most recent saltwater adventures include learning to sail.

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Three Things You Can Do Online to Save Paper

Posted On October 26, 2012 by

What if everyone reduced their mail just a little? Credit: Ed Siasoco’s flickr stream.

Paper has been integral to human culture since its invention. But today, with convenient and eco-friendly digital options, we shouldn’t take it for granted.

Reducing paper use is good for the environment, including our ocean. Using less paper

It’s daunting to stop and notice just how much trash we each generate every day—but heartening when you can make a few simply changes in how you do things and instantly see results. Take your mailbox, for instance. Continue reading »

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5 Questions with International Coastal Cleanup Coordinator Hilberto Riverol of Belize

Posted On September 15, 2012 by

Hilberto Riverol of The Scout Association of Belize has coordinated the International Coastal Cleanup for his country over the past 20 years, teaching scouts how they can help keep the ocean clean and healthy. Credit: John Carrillo.

Since 1911,  The Scout Association of Belize has taught children to protect and care for the environment on a daily basis. As it happens, their small Central American country on the Caribbean is a rugged place of great natural beauty. Coastal waters host extraordinary marine life, especially along the world’s second largest barrier reef, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

So back in 1992 when Hilberto Riverol, national scout executive with the association, heard that the Ramada Hotel in Belize City was gathering volunteers for the country’s first International Coastal Cleanup, he signed up.  Some 600 participants including the scouts removed more than three tons of trash from approximately 18 miles of the coast. Continue reading »

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Saving the Ocean One Cleanup—and One Jar of Pickles—at a Time

Posted On September 14, 2012 by

Nicholas used a tasty family recipe to raise money for the ocean.
Credit: Courtesy Nicholas Wheeler.

Nicholas Wheeler of Hilton Head Island, South Carolina, has been busy this summer canning some seventy jars of pickles. What do pickles have to do with the ocean?

The 14-year-old is quick to draw a direct link. Among the weirdest things he’s found during beach cleanups was a full jar of pickles that had never been opened. Besides, they’re one of his favorite things to munch on.

“My mom’s grandmother had a pickle recipe,” he says. “I wanted to try it out because I love pickles. I’m going to sell them and give the money to Ocean Conservancy because ever since I was little, I’ve loved the ocean.” Continue reading »

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Cartoonist Jim Toomey Explains How Trash Gets Into Our Ocean

Posted On September 13, 2012 by

When I interviewed cartoonist Jim Toomey recently about his comic strip Sherman’s lagoon, which features Sherman the lovable great white shark, I discovered that his passion for conservation extends to every aspect of the ocean.

This week, as we look forward to Ocean Conservancy’s 27th International Coastal Cleanup this Saturday, September 15, we want to share his latest project, a two-minute video he’s produced with our long-time Cleanup partner, the United Nations Environment Programme, to tell people about ocean trash.

UNEP’s Regional Office for North America is producing a whole series of short videos to raise ocean awareness. Jim delivers these bite-size ocean lessons with humor, making them fun with the help of his colorful cartoon friends. Continue reading »

Cleanups: Going after Clean Water Hook, Line and Sinker

Posted On September 12, 2012 by

Fishing is fine on North Carolina’s Outer Banks. Credit: Catherine Fox

Fishing. It’s a cherished pastime that takes us away from the daily grind and instantly sets the mind at ease. “When the fish are biting, no problem in the world is big enough to be remembered,” said writer Orlando A. Battista.

Whether you love fishing or just enjoy the thrill of walking along a clean beach and watching wildlife, it’s important to understand that lost tackle can have serious consequences if we don’t clean it up.

Fishing gear lost in the water may not seem like a big deal compared with other types of trash, but when left behind inadvertently by fishermen whose lines break or snag, it’s a definite hazard:

Continue reading »

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International Coastal Cleanup Coordinators Lead and Inspire Volunteers for Trash Free Seas

Posted On August 31, 2012 by

Yoshiko Ohkura (center) of JEAN (Japan Environmental Action Network) cleans a beach at Gamo Tidal Flat. Credit: Nick Mallos.

How much are some people willing to give to solve the problem of ocean trash? In the case of the amazing partners who organize the International Coastal Cleanup across entire countries and U.S. states, the answer is: everything they have.

We call them the “sea stars of the Cleanup.” Meet just two, Azusa Kojima and Yoshiko Ohkura from JEAN (Japan Environmental Action Network).

Like their fellow coordinators around the world, they manage a host of responsibilities, including:

  • identifying sites on the water to be cleaned and overseeing those sites;
  • educating the public and rallying a volunteer network;
  • engaging reporters from radio, television, newspapers and online news sources;
  • arranging cleanup day logistics; and
  • ensuring that data collected by volunteers reaches Ocean Conservancy for publication in the annual Ocean Trash Index.

JEAN’s efforts on behalf of the Cleanup for more than 20 years are legion. Now the recognized marine debris leader in Japan, JEAN unified existing cleanup efforts and inspired more participation by educating the public about the dangers of ocean trash. From 800 volunteers at 80 sites in 1990, JEAN has grown the Cleanup exponentially, with more than 22,000 volunteers at 234 sites in the peak year to date.

Continue reading »

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High-flying Balloons Pose a Definite Downside for Ocean Wildlife

Posted On August 29, 2012 by

Balloons that soar eventually fall, with serious impacts for wildlife.
Credit: Jerry Downs flickr stream

What’s more joyful than the sight of colorful balloons soaring up into the blue sky? People release festive bunches of them for lots of reasons, including to

  • celebrate birthdays, weddings and anniversaries
  • commemorate the passing of a loved one
  • inspire excitement at sporting events
  • announce the opening of a business or a super sales event

And sometimes they simply escape our grasp and go skyward.

What goes up must come down
Alas, balloons eventually fall back to Earth. That’s when the dark side of their existence begins. When balloons and their ribbons or strings fall or blow into the ocean and waterways, wildlife can suffer and die. Continue reading »