The Blog Aquatic

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The Blog Aquatic

News, opinions, photos and facts from Ocean Conservancy

About Sarah van Schagen

As senior writer, Sarah is responsible for crafting inspiring stories about Ocean Conservancy’s work. Before moving to the nation’s capital, Sarah lived in Seattle, where she spent her weekdays writing bad puns for Grist.org and her weekends volunteering at the Seattle Aquarium. When she’s not wordsmithing and comma-wrangling, she can be found exploring D.C. and wishing it was closer to the ocean.

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Bangladesh Cleanup Coordinator Bikes U.S. to Fight Ocean Trash

Posted On September 10, 2012 by

Riding along the highway

Credit: Muntasir Mamun

Muntasir Mamun was stopped at a gas station in Dayton, Ohio, when he saw a woman helping kids pick up the trash in their neighborhood.

As the International Coastal Cleanup Coordinator in Bangladesh, Muntasir would have found this scene inspiring in any context. But the fact that he was on a 3,500-mile bike ride across the United States to raise awareness about the impacts of trash made the moment all the more sweet.

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Do Your Clean Clothes Make the Ocean Dirty?

Posted On September 7, 2012 by

clothes line-drying outside

Photo: gemteck1 flickr stream

Did you know that while clean clothes make you look and feel better, they could actually have the opposite effect on the ocean? By changing your laundry habits even slightly, you may be able to save money, save water and protect the ocean from pollutants.

Here are 6 tips for ensuring you’re washing in ways that keep the ocean in mind:

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5 Questions with Underwater Photographer Feo Pitcairn

Posted On August 25, 2012 by

© Feo Pitcairn

Much has changed since a teenaged Feo Pitcairn took his first wildlife photographs and developed them in his parent’s cellar.

For one thing, he’s no longer using that darkroom; his equipment now includes high-definition digital cameras that produce images with up to 40 million pixels.

His work has been showcased at the Smithsonian, on PBS and in countless books, magazines and calendars. And his film “Ocean Voyagers,” narrated by Meryl Streep, has been converted to 3-D and nominated for an award at the upcoming BLUE Ocean Film Festival.

Most recently, he’s transitioned from natural-history filmmaking back to his first love, still photography, and he’s launching an online gallery to share his work with the world.

A former Ocean Conservancy board member and long-time supporter of the organization, Feo has also witnessed a great deal of change in the health of our ocean during his many years as a photographer. He shares his experiences and insights—as well as a slideshow of beautiful ocean images—after the jump.

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Shark Attack Survivors Fight to Save Sharks

Posted On August 15, 2012 by

tiger shark

Copyright Matthew D. Potenski 2010

Eight years ago, Debbie Salamone was attacked by a shark in the shallow waters of Florida’s Cape Canaveral National Seashore. The shark severed her Achilles tendon and led her to question her two-decade career as an environmental reporter.

After surgery and months of recovery, she came to realize that if she loved the ocean, she had to love everything in it – even sharks.

Sharks play an important role in the ocean ecosystem, Salamone explains. Removing these top predators – whether through overfishing or harmful practices like shark-finning – can have dire consequences that ripple throughout the ecosystem.

“I realized my unique position: Who could better speak up for sharks than myself and people like me?” she says.

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What Does Your Trash Say About You?

Posted On July 4, 2012 by

Volunteers pull a tire out of the water during Ocean Conservancy's 2009 International Coastal Cleanup in Athens, Greece. -- © Gerasimos Domenikos / Aurora Photos

Some people say “we are what we eat,” but maybe what we throw away is just as telling.

In profiling the film “Raw Material” about the garbage pickers of Athens, writer Jennifer Hattam points out how life has changed for these scavengers now that the entire country is facing an economic crisis:

In the shadow of the Acropolis, they set off before dawn. Men and boys driving rusty trucks, pushing heavy hand-carts, towing wagons behind battered motorcycles. As the city slowly comes to life, they are already well into their day’s work, scouring alleys and Dumpsters for old box-spring mattresses, appliances, car parts, anything they can salvage and sell at a scrap yard for a few dollars a day.

Many Athens residents have been struggling to get by since economic and political crisis erupted in Greece, threatening to engulf much of Europe. But the estimated 80,000 Athenians who collect and process scrap in the city’s informal economy were eking out their meager livings back when the rest of the city was still living large. Continue reading »

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Sanibel Sea School Aims to Transform, Not Just Teach

Posted On April 9, 2012 by

Child examining a seawall at low tide

Photo by Bruce Neill, Sanibel Sea School

People fall in love with the ocean in many different ways: surfing, boating, scuba diving, beach-walking. Sanibel Sea School, a day-school program on Sanibel Island, Florida, aims to help young people fall in the love with the ocean through intellectual discovery.

The school is the brain-child of marine biology professor J. Bruce Neill and his wife, Evelyn, who have high hopes that some day all people will value, understand and care for the ocean. It’s a “broad-reaching, idyllic goal,” Bruce says, which is why they’re focused on a much more manageable mission to “improve the ocean’s future one person at a time.”

Or in this case, up to 30 young people at a time. Called “college for 8-year-olds,” Sanibel Sea School offers students aged 6 to 13 two half-day courses a day focused on topics like gastropod mollusks and mangrove forests.

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