The Blog Aquatic

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The Blog Aquatic

News, opinions, photos and facts from Ocean Conservancy

About Nick Mallos

Nicholas Mallos is Director of the Trash Free Seas Program at Ocean Conservancy. His earliest memories are of waves and sandcastles on the Jersey shore and from an early age he longed to be a marine biologist. Nick has spent the past decade researching the ecological, economic and behavioral components associated with ocean plastic pollution. Nick is inspired by the ocean and by determined people around the globe who are working tirelessly to protect our blue planet. He is also an avid surfer and works hard to catch a wave wherever his travels take him. Follow him on Twitter @NickMallos.

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Plastics Are a Whale of a Problem for Our Ocean

Posted On August 26, 2014 by

Photo: Eric Patey via Flickr Creative Commons

Sei whales are majestic animals and I’ve had the great fortune of witnessing their grace and splendor in the open ocean. Last week, however, a 45-foot sei whale washed up on the shores of the Elizabeth River in Virginia. An 11-foot bruise above her left jaw and two fractured vertebrae led the Virginia Aquarium Stranding Response Team to believe she was killed by blunt force trauma following a collision with a ship.

However, a necropsy revealed that the whale also had “a large sharp piece of rigid, black plastic” roughly the size of a standard index card lodged in her stomach.

In the days leading up to her death, the Virginia Aquarium team said that she “was thin and its movements were not indicative of a healthy whale.” They believe that the plastic in the whale’s stomach prevented her from feeding normally. This likely weakened the whale and could explain why she swam up the Elizabeth River.

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You’re Invited

Posted On August 25, 2014 by

 

It’s time to make a difference!

On Saturday, September 20th, Ocean Conservancy is hosting the International Coastal Cleanup. Volunteers around the world are gathering to remove trash from their beaches and waterways. And you’re invited!

The Cleanup is so important for a healthy ocean. Last year, volunteers collected a record-breaking 13.6 million items of trash. With your help, we can collect even more.

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The Five Myths (and Truths) About Plastic Pollution in Our Ocean

Posted On July 17, 2014 by

Photo by John Kieser

As the Director of Ocean Conservancy’s Trash Free Seas Program, I’ve had the opportunity to meet people who care about the ocean and are making a difference for the communities that depend on it. However, I’m always surprised by the number of misconceptions about ocean plastics.

With many people visiting the beach this summer, not to mention all the coverage that ocean plastics has received recently, it’s a great opportunity to clear up some of these myths:

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Declare Your Independence from Plastic

Posted On July 3, 2014 by

Photo: Ocean Conservancy

Trash has infiltrated all reaches of our ocean from our coastlines to the deepest depths. This Fourth of July, declare your independence from plastic and help reduce marine debris! Here are 10 easy ways you can free yourself from unnecessary plastics:

  1. It’s easy to skip the straw when you’re at a sit down restaurant. By simply asking your waiter to hold the straw, you can prevent another piece of plastic from ending up on our beaches or in the ocean
  2. When you throw away (or preferably recycle) a plastic bottle, keep the bottle cap on. This prevents it from escaping the bin and ending up in the ocean. Bottle caps are buoyant plastics that can be consumed by seabirds, marine life and other animals.
  3. Plastic bags pose a serious threat to ocean wildlife. Sea turtles can mistake them for jellies, their favorite snack. Bring a reusable bag with you whenever and wherever you go shopping.
  4. Try only using trashcans and recycling bins that are sealed or have a top. Don’t let the wind blow away your green deed of the day.
  5. Use a reusable mug or bottle when you’re on the go. Some coffee shops will even fill it for a discount. Save some cash by saving the ocean. Continue reading »

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Where Has All the Plastic Gone?

Posted On July 2, 2014 by

Photo: Thomas Jones

We live in a society of plastics, no doubt about it. And as our insatiable appetite for plastics has increased year after year, so too has the quantity of plastics flowing into our ocean. The magnitude of this input and the ultimate resting place of ocean plastic pollution, however, remain up for debate.

In a study just published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), Dr. Andres Cozar and his colleagues estimate the total amount of floating plastic debris in the ocean is several orders of magnitude less than the 1 million tons extrapolated from data published by the National Academy of Sciences in the 1970s.

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Washington, DC: “Farewell Foam… Hello Clean Water!”

Posted On July 1, 2014 by

Volunteers cleanup plastic-foam along the Anacostia River in Washington, DC.

July 18, 2014 update: Our nation’s capital has banned plastic-foam food containers!

As a conservationist, ocean lover and resident of Washington, DC, I have some exciting news to share! Last week, lawmakers in our nation’s capital voted to ban the use of plastic-foam food and drink containers throughout the District by 2016. This is a fantastic step for the health of the Anacostia River and a major step towards trash-free seas!

Each year during Ocean Conservancy’s International Coastal Cleanup, we see massive quantities of foam polluting beaches, waterways and coastlines—1.2 million items of foam during the 2013 Cleanup alone. And foam doesn’t just disappear. A best-case scenario would have a single plastic-foam cup fully “biodegrading” in 500 years; however, it’s likely that these plastics will never truly go away. Foam is lightweight and brittle, fragmenting into small pieces at the slightest touch. These properties are the very reason it disperses so easily and widely on beaches and into rivers and marine environments.  With each piece of foam that fragments into waterways or the ocean, the likelihood that fish, sea turtles, or seabirds will mistakenly eat those plastic bits increases, threatening the health animals and our oceans.

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Illinois Takes a Big Stand on Tiny Plastics

Posted On June 17, 2014 by

© Peter Hoffman / Aurora Photos

Last week, Illinois Governor, Pat Quinn signed state-wide legislation banning the manufacture and sale of cosmetic products containing synthetic microbeads. This legislation made Illinois the first state to take action against the harmful plastics, which are used as exfoliants in many personal care products including soaps, toothpastes and cleansers.

Governor Quinn’s strong stance against microbeads in cosmetics has major implications for the health of our ocean. All too frequently, these plastic bits find their way into the ocean where they pollute the water and are accidentally ingested by fish. Banning their manufacture and sale brings us one step closer to the trash free seas (and lakes) we deserve.

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