The Blog Aquatic » Nick Mallos http://blog.oceanconservancy.org News, opinions, photos and facts from Ocean Conservancy Thu, 23 Oct 2014 18:38:33 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.4.2 Putting a Lid on Ocean Trash http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2014/09/22/putting-a-lid-on-ocean-trash/ http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2014/09/22/putting-a-lid-on-ocean-trash/#comments Mon, 22 Sep 2014 14:06:40 +0000 Nick Mallos http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/?p=9263

This weekend, we wrapped up another fantastic International Coastal Cleanup. Thank you so much to all of our volunteers and supporters who came out to make a difference for our ocean.

Hundreds of thousands of people turned out all over the world to clean up their local beaches and waterways. We’ve collected our favorite photos, tweets and Instagram pictures to share some our favorites from around the globe. Check out our Storify below!

Thank you again to everyone who participated in the International Coastal Cleanup. I am so grateful to have allies like you joining me in the fight against marine debris. While beach cleanups alone can’t solve the ocean trash problem, they are an integral piece to the overall solution.

If you weren’t able to join us for the International Coastal Cleanup, you can still make a difference. Take our Skip the Straw Challenge and help prevent plastic straws from entering our ocean.

 


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Three Reasons for the International Coastal Cleanup http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2014/09/12/three-reasons-for-the-international-coastal-cleanup/ http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2014/09/12/three-reasons-for-the-international-coastal-cleanup/#comments Fri, 12 Sep 2014 13:20:48 +0000 Nick Mallos http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/?p=9218

Ocean Conservancy’s International Coastal Cleanup is a little over a week away! As the world’s largest cleanup event for the ocean, the International Coastal Cleanup is a crucial part of the fight for trash free seas. Why?

1. First, and foremost the Cleanup provides our team with data—and lots of it! Every year, hundreds of thousands of volunteers fill out data cards to record what they find while picking up their beaches and waterways. This information helps Ocean Conservancy and myriad other ocean and environmental organizations around the world identify the most harmful items of debris, and find ways to stop them from entering the ocean.

For example, over the years we’ve found that straws are the fifth most common item collected during the International Coastal Cleanup. Like many other items of plastic debris, straws are easily consumed by birds and other marine life who mistake them for food. Ocean Conservancy launched The Last Straw Challenge and asked ocean lovers to “skip the straw” when dining out. Since May, more than 25,000 people have taken the challenge and we’ve kept more than 5 million plastic straws from ever ending up in our ocean or landfills.

2. The International Coastal Cleanup is a great way to get people involved. While beach clean ups alone can’t solve the problem of ocean trash, they certainly help! For many of our volunteers, the Cleanup is the only time that they witness the effects of marine debris first-hand. By participating in a cleanup at their local beach or waterway, they see the impacts of their trash and are more likely to think about the products they use, what they throw away and its implications for the environment.

3. The International Coastal Cleanup is an easy way to give back. The ocean provides us with so much. It’s important to make sure we are taking care of it, so that it can continue to take care of us.  This September, volunteers around the world are giving back to our ocean and joining the fight against ocean trash. Make sure you sign up for a clean up near you!

September 20th is my birthday. Celebrate with me by coming out and cleaning up your local beach, creek, park or reef. I hope you’ll join us!

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25,000 Ocean Lovers Accepted the Last Straw Challenge http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2014/09/06/25000-ocean-lovers-accepted-the-last-straw-challenge/ http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2014/09/06/25000-ocean-lovers-accepted-the-last-straw-challenge/#comments Sat, 06 Sep 2014 18:00:19 +0000 Nick Mallos http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/?p=9184

Photo: Samantha Reinders

We did it! We were able to get 25,000 ocean lovers to accept the Last Straw Challenge before the International Coastal Cleanup on September 20. This means we’re preventing 5 million plastic straws from ever ending up in our ocean or landfills.

That’s right — 5 million plastic straws. A small gesture like asking your waiter to hold the straw every time you’re at a sit down restaurant is a big help for marine wildlife. Endangered animals like sea turtles, albatross and seals are at especially high risk of the dangers of plastic pollution. They mistakenly consume pieces of plastic and are at risk of choking on them or damaging their digestive systems.

International Coastal Cleanup volunteers picked up more than 555,000 straws on our beaches and shorelines last year alone. With the average American eating out four times a week and almost always using a straw or two, the dinner table is a great place to start turning the tide on trash. With this kind of commitment, we’re that much closer to having trash free seas.

There’s still more we can do! The International Coastal Cleanup is on September 20. Sign up to clean up your local beach or shoreline today!

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Plastics Are a Whale of a Problem for Our Ocean http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2014/08/26/plastics-are-a-whale-of-a-problem-for-our-ocean/ http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2014/08/26/plastics-are-a-whale-of-a-problem-for-our-ocean/#comments Wed, 27 Aug 2014 01:35:37 +0000 Nick Mallos http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/?p=9123

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.


Unfortunately we cannot dismiss this as a tragic, isolated incident. Plastic pollution in the marine environment has become a persistent and proliferating threat to our ocean. Plastics pose a great threat to the animals that live in and around the ocean, and our fight for a clean ocean is just as much for them as it is for us.

While there is no “catch all” solution for ocean trash, you can join the fight for a healthy ocean. This September, Ocean Conservancy is hosting its 29th annual International Coastal Cleanup. The Cleanup will not eradicate the perils of plastics in the ocean, but it can eliminate the chance that items littering our beaches and waterways ever find their way into our marine environment.

Join us, and you can help make a difference for our ocean.

 

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You’re Invited http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2014/08/25/youre-invited/ http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2014/08/25/youre-invited/#comments Mon, 25 Aug 2014 13:49:07 +0000 Nick Mallos http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/?p=9085

 

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.

But having more trash on our beaches to pick up is not a thing to celebrate. The sad truth is that our beaches and waterways are polluted and littered with trash. This summer as millions of Americans head to the beach, they’ll encounter plastic bottle caps, straws, cigarette butts and more.

That’s why we need to work together to stop the flow of trash before it has a chance to reach the water to choke and entangle dolphins, endanger sea turtles, ruin our beaches, and depress our local economies.

Tell us you’ll join us at this year’s International Coastal Clean Up.

Once you’ve registered, you’ll be directed to our Cleanup map, where you can find the details for a cleanup near you.

I can’t wait to see you at the International Coastal Cleanup this September!

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The Five Myths (and Truths) About Plastic Pollution in Our Ocean http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2014/07/17/the-five-myths-and-truths-about-plastic-pollution-in-our-ocean/ http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2014/07/17/the-five-myths-and-truths-about-plastic-pollution-in-our-ocean/#comments Thu, 17 Jul 2014 18:00:39 +0000 Nick Mallos http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/?p=8754

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:

  1. Myth: There are floating islands of plastics in every ocean.
    Fact: Only a small percentage of ocean plastics float at the sea surface.Most plastics are dispersed throughout the water column, resting on the seafloor, trapped in Arctic ice, or inside ocean animals. The plastic gyres you hear about in the news are primarily composed of tiny plastic particles that are the degraded fragments of their original form (i.e., bottles, containers, toys)—many are the size of a grain of rice. 
  2. Myth: Ocean plastic primarily comes from ocean dumping and industry, such as cruise ships or container ships. .
    Fact: Most of the plastics in the ocean come from items we use every day—bags, bottles, caps, food containers, etc. By limiting single-use plastics in our everyday lives and disposing of these items properly, we can reduce the amount of plastic waste entering the ocean. 
  3. Myth: Ocean trash gyres, large areas of the ocean where currents concentrate trash, can simply be cleaned out of existence.
    Fact: While some surface trash can be cleaned, many plastics break down and become dispersed. Only a small percentage of total ocean plastics inputs rest at the surface. The rest is distributed throughout the ocean or winds up inside animals. We don’t have a realistic, efficient way to remove these plastics from the system (yet).
  4. Myth: Ocean plastics are just a trash problem.
    Fact: Plastic particles are now found inside animals and throughout the ocean food chain—from mussels to fish to turtles to whales. 
  5. Myth: There is one, simple solution capable of solving our ocean plastics problem.
    Fact: Bans, fees, recycling nor product redesign alone can fix this. The ultimate solution is a combination of all of these and more. The biggest impact will come from stopping the massive amounts of plastic litter before it travels over land, and into our waterways and ocean.

With all this in mind, you might be thinking—what can I do to make a difference? You can sign up to clean your local beach or waterway by joining Ocean Conservancy in the International Coastal Cleanup on Saturday, September 20. You’ll be among hundreds of thousands of volunteers working towards a cleaner ocean.

Cleanups alone can’t solve this problem, but volunteers are instrumental in helping us assemble our Ocean Trash Index. This provides us with a snapshot of what’s trashing our ocean so we can work towards preventing the most abundant and problematic items of trash from reaching the water in the first place.

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Declare Your Independence from Plastic http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2014/07/03/declare-your-independence-from-plastic/ http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2014/07/03/declare-your-independence-from-plastic/#comments Thu, 03 Jul 2014 13:00:17 +0000 Nick Mallos http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/?p=8705

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.
  6. Cigarette butts have been the most common item of trash found on beaches every year since the International Coastal Cleanup began in 1986. Volunteers collected over 2 million in 2013 alone. If you need a smoke break while on the beach, be sure to take your butt with you and dispose of it properly once off the sand.
  7. Ask your favorite to-go place to leave the bag, plastic utensils and napkins behind. And give those food containers a second life by storing all the random stuff you have but don’t know where to put.
  8. Check out some Pinterest DIY tips or YouTube tutorials on how to turn extra plastics into your favorite accessories or decorations.
  9. Take part in the International Coastal Cleanup to rid your local beach,  shoreline or waterway of trash.
  10. Share this with your friends to help them declare their independence from plastic!
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