The Blog Aquatic » Guest Blogger http://blog.oceanconservancy.org News, opinions, photos and facts from Ocean Conservancy Mon, 26 Jan 2015 16:12:50 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.4.2 Bicoastal State Action on Ocean Acidification http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2014/11/11/bicoastal-state-action-on-ocean-acidification/ http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2014/11/11/bicoastal-state-action-on-ocean-acidification/#comments Tue, 11 Nov 2014 14:24:07 +0000 Guest Blogger http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/?p=9486

By Guest Authors Mick Devin, Jay Manning and Eric Schwaab

Last week at the Restore America’s Estuaries Summit hundreds of people gathered near the nation’s capital to talk about coastal restoration and management practices. We were invited to lend a voice to a significant new coastal threat – - ocean acidification.  Acidification threats have been recognized by coastal communities and businesses as not just a concern for restoration practitioners, but to the fishing and aquaculture businesses that support the economies of many coastal communities. Ocean acidification threatens fish and wildlife around the world, but also jobs and livelihoods in coastal communities throughout the US.

The most well-known example of acidification impacting coastal businesses and communities happened in 2007 and 2008 with the shellfish industry in the Pacific Northwest. Hatchery owners, working closely with scientists, found that acidification was killing billions of baby oysters. As a result, shellfish farms and hatcheries along the West Coast faced serious financial losses. These businesses have been able to take steps to respond to the continued threat of acidification, and bounce back.  But there are many more businesses and sectors around the US, and in our states in particular, that are at risk due to acidification.

Up to a third of all carbon pollution in the atmosphere is absorbed by the ocean, causing a chemical change in seawater that turns it more acidic.  This makes it harder for shell-building animals to survive.

Based on community concerns, our states have taken recent action to better understand and respond to ocean acidification.  As chairs of the Maine, Washington and Maryland state panels on ocean acidification, we spoke alongside NOAA Ocean Acidification Program Director Libby Jewett about better monitoring, enhanced coordination, mitigation opportunities and other specific actions planned or underway.

Our three states contribute billions of dollars to the national economy through our coastal communities and fisheries, yet our iconic lobster, blue crab and shellfish fisheries may be vulnerable to acidification impacts.  We are taking steps now to respond and are committed to doing even more. Washington has already established research and policy centers to work on this issue, and Maine and Maryland are issuing reports for legislative actions in the coming months.

It was great to share experiences and discuss how to collaborate and tackle a problem that is inherently bigger than all of our states combined.  However, we are encouraged and hopeful that with each state that takes action, we will find ways to roll back acidification and its negative impacts.

About the Guest Authors:

Mick Devin is co-chair of the Maine Commission on Ocean Acidification, and was recently re-elected as a member of the Maine State House of Representatives, representing Maine’s 51st District.

Jay Manning is the former Chief of Staff to Washington State Governor Christine Gregoire, and Co-chair of the Washington State Blue Ribbon Panel on Ocean Acidification.  He is currently an environmental lawyer and consultant based out of Olympia, Washington.

Eric Schwaab is the chair of the Maryland Ocean Acidification Task Force, and former US Department of Commerce acting Assistant Secretary for Conservation and Management, and Assistant Administrator for Fisheries at NOAA.  He is currently the Senior Vice President and Chief Conservation Officer at the National Aquarium in Baltimore, Maryland.

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Tidal Anatomy http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2014/10/20/tidal-anatomy/ http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2014/10/20/tidal-anatomy/#comments Mon, 20 Oct 2014 21:11:09 +0000 Guest Blogger http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/?p=9354  

Photo: John Madere

This blog post was written by John Madere, an award winning photographer. 

I’m pleased to announce that the book launch and exhibition of my Tidal Anatomy portrait series opens at Site 109 in Manhattan on October 21. The images are the result of two years of photographing surfers from an unlikely perspective with my camera placed high above the surfer and beach.

The inspiration for this project came to me while walking along the shore in Montauk, New York, on a raw, windy day in the Spring of 2013. An unusually harsh winter had radically altered the beach, leaving behind arresting scenes of strewn rocks, stratified clay, decaying driftwood, driven sand, and man made debris.

Read more at JohnMadere.com.

 

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Tell the EPA You Support Cutting Carbon Emissions http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2014/10/16/tell-the-epa-you-support-cutting-carbon-emissions/ http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2014/10/16/tell-the-epa-you-support-cutting-carbon-emissions/#comments Thu, 16 Oct 2014 17:50:22 +0000 Guest Blogger http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/?p=9341

This blog post was written by Benoit Eudeline, the hatchery research manager at Taylor Shellfish Farms. 

Here at the Taylor Shellfish Hatchery in Washington State, we are facing real threats to our business and our livelihood.

Ocean acidification, largely caused by carbon pollution, can damage shell-building animals, like oysters, clams and mussels. Given the changes we’re seeing in the ocean, it will be increasingly difficult for these organisms to build healthy shells, and will ultimately impact their ability to survive.

We are taking action here in Washington State, but we must do more – for everyone who relies on the ocean.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has proposed an action that would cut power plants’ carbon emissions—emissions that are changing the very nature of our ocean. We need your help to tell the EPA that we must take these steps to cut emissions now. Fishermen, shellfish farmers, and coastal communities who depend on a healthy ocean will suffer if we don’t respond now.

We all know power plants emit large amounts of carbon into the atmosphere. What most people don’t know is that around 30% of all carbon emissions are absorbed by the ocean. This makes life difficult for oysters because as the water becomes more acidic, it is deprived of the chemical building blocks that oysters and other shellfish need to grow their shells and survive.

I, along with my children, my friends and my neighbors living here in Northwest Washington State, want to continue working on the water and preserving our culture, our ocean, and our way of life for a long, long time.

Click here to tell the EPA that you support their efforts to cut carbon emissions on behalf of the ocean. 

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Growing the New York State Cleanup to 6,000 Volunteers http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2014/09/16/growing-the-new-york-state-cleanup-to-6000-volunteers/ http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2014/09/16/growing-the-new-york-state-cleanup-to-6000-volunteers/#comments Tue, 16 Sep 2014 14:25:32 +0000 Guest Blogger http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/?p=9228

Photo: Mat Szwajkos/Aurora Photos

This blog is part of a series of stories about the International Coastal Cleanup from Coordinators. This blog was written by Natalie Grant, a Coordinator for the International Coastal Cleanup in New York.

I am honored to be the New York State Coordinator for the International Coastal Cleanup. Coordinating New York State’s participation in this annual event is such a rewarding task! I find it thrilling each year when new volunteers sign up to help clean our shorelines and make a difference for the future of not only marine mammals but also our children and our communities.

Approximately 15 years ago, I first began my involvement with the Cleanup as a volunteer. This initial experience was such a positive one that I continued to volunteer each year. Eventually, I became a beach captain, recruiting new participants and volunteers to clean a shoreline in my community. I lived in a waterfront community and learned first-hand the dire problem of marine debris and knew how important this annual event is to New York State and to the waterways and shorelines worldwide.

Soon, I began to assume additional roles such as gathering the resulting data, maintaining databases, and shipping supplies. After several years, the long-time State Coordinator announced that she was retiring. I knew I wanted to continue helping and become the State Coordinator for New York. For the past few years, I have diligently worked to increase participation and expand the number of sites. I have maintained long and loyal relationships with our beach captains and I am very proud that they return every year to clean the beaches and shorelines in their communities. Many also “adopt” their shoreline, returning throughout the year to maintain the site. I am very proud that we have grown this grass roots event from 4 shorelines and 100 volunteers in 1986 to 157 shorelines with over 5,900 volunteers cleaning 173 miles in 2013.

This year mark’s my fourth year as the Cleanup Coordinator for the International Coastal Cleanup. Each year, I try to solicit the help of more and more volunteers to remove debris miles of shorelines across the State of New York. For the 2014 Beach Cleanup, I am thrilled to have 194 beach captains set to host thousands of volunteers.

New York’s participation in the International Coastal Cleanup is sponsored and funded by the American Littoral Society’s Northeast Chapter. 2015 will mark the American Littoral Society’s 30th year in the International Coastal Cleanup. I find myself already planning for that historic event!

Will you join us on September 20, 2014? Check out Ocean Conservancy’s map to find a cleanup location near you?

Other blogs in this series:

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Dedicated Coordinators Expand Beach Cleanups in Mexico http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2014/09/11/dedicated-coordinators-expand-beach-cleanups-in-mexico/ http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2014/09/11/dedicated-coordinators-expand-beach-cleanups-in-mexico/#comments Thu, 11 Sep 2014 13:39:34 +0000 Guest Blogger http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/?p=9208

Photo: Alejandra Lopez

This blog is part of a series of stories about the International Coastal Cleanup from Coordinators. This blog was written by Alejandra Lόpez de Román, a Coordinator for the International Coastal Cleanup in Tamaulipas, Mexico.

In honor of the 10th anniversary of the first time I organized and coordinated the International Coastal Cleanup in Tamaulipas, Mexico, I’d like to share a bit of what I’ve felt and learned during all these years.

The way I became engaged with the ICC was fortuitous because I was invited by an instructor from the Professional Association of Diving Instructors to do an underwater cleanup that was not affiliated with Ocean Conservancy at the time. The water conditions were not appropriate for diving, so we did a beach cleanup instead. We found so much trash that I thought we should do this more often and invite many more people!

My instructor was very busy so I organized the next cleanup, inviting people from the Club de Regatas Corona, and family and friends.  I eventually connected with Ocean Conservancy because I wanted Tampico and Tamaulipas (my state) to be a part of Ocean Conservancy’s International Coastal Cleanup.

Since then, our Cleanup has grown exponentially in Tampico: from a handful of volunteers in 2003 to 1,233 registered volunteers in 2013! Our best move has been to invite high school and university students. We motivate students with talks about what Ocean Conservancy does, the damage marine debris causes our ocean, and the need to ACT NOW before it´s too late. Of course one of the best ways of acting is by joining forces with hundreds of thousands of other volunteers to participate!

Will you join us on September 20, 2014? Check out Ocean Conservancy’s map to find a cleanup location near you.

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Talking Trash and Taking Action http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2014/08/27/talking-trash-and-taking-action/ http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2014/08/27/talking-trash-and-taking-action/#comments Wed, 27 Aug 2014 07:00:40 +0000 Guest Blogger http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/?p=9096

This post was written by Ocean Conservancy’s Trash Free Seas Education and Outreach Fellow, Emily Parker. Emily recently graduated from Elon University with a major in Environmental Studies. She joined the Trash Free Seas team as in intern earlier this year to assist in the development and distribution of the Talking Trash & Taking Action program and is now working to help educate the public on the issue of marine debris as a Fellow. While not at Ocean Conservancy, you can find her hunting down the best food in Washington, D.C. and escaping to saltwater and sand whenever she can.

No matter what the cause, empowering students and youth to make a difference in the world through volunteerism always inspires me. It has always been said that children are the future, and this couldn’t be truer when it comes to ocean conservation. They are the next generation of ocean stewards, and there is no better way to ignite passion than to engage students in the ocean problems of today.

One of the greatest threats our ocean faces is marine debris. While many ocean issues are extremely complex and multi-faceted, trash is a bit easier to wrap our heads around. So when Ocean Conservancy brought the problem to the attention of City Year students in Washington DC this summer, we were not disappointed. As we spoke to them about ocean trash—where it comes from and why we care about it—we were met with raised hands, impressive answers and creative ideas. Students responded with empathy and imagined innovative prevention methods that impressed even our seasoned educators. After taking students down to Anacostia National Park to get their hands dirty and participate in a trash cleanup, the enthusiasm was unprecedented. We finished, tired yet proud, posing around the 700 pounds of collected trash. The event convinced many students to swear off single-use plastic bottles forever.

It is this potential that has inspired Ocean Conservancy to develop a marine debris educational program entitled Talking Trash & Taking Action. This program, developed in collaboration with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association’s Marine Debris Program, combines concrete information along with engaging hands-on activities to teach students about marine debris and how it can be prevented. The program dives deep into the issue, covering marine debris composition and decomposition, the watershed and ocean current networks, ocean gyres and trash traps, environmental and economic impacts, and all types of prevention methods, from the individual and every day, the community-wide and unique.

Talking Trash & Taking Action is currently available for use by any and all formal and informal educators interested in teaching their students about marine debris. The program is designed so that educators can incorporate specific activities into existing curriculum or walk through the entire program step-by-step.

Join Ocean Conservancy in the fight against marine debris by leading your own educational program. Visit our website to download the Talking Trash & Taking Action program along with other helpful tools to engage youth and adults alike.

Interested in organizing a training program for the educators in your area? Contact Allison Schutes for more information. Together, we can all help to turn the tide on trash.

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Toilets Are Scary, Sharks Are Not http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2014/08/12/toilets-are-scary-sharks-are-not/ http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2014/08/12/toilets-are-scary-sharks-are-not/#comments Tue, 12 Aug 2014 13:00:44 +0000 Guest Blogger http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/?p=8982

Photo: Armando Jenik

This post was written by Ocean Conservancy’s Digital Communications Intern, Maggie Tehan. Maggie is a recent graduate from Clemson University where she majored in Communication Studies and minored in Writing. When she’s not working at Ocean Conservancy, you can find Maggie expressing her biting wit on social media (pun intended), cheering on her favorite football teams, and wishing she had a permanent ocean view. 

What emotion comes to your mind when you think about sharks? For many people around the world, that emotion is fear. But why is there so much fear surrounding the topic of sharks?

Unfortunately, sharks have a well-known negative image, instilled in us by movies and news stories that continue to terrify people. The media has introduced a sense of fear in us and because of this distorted framing; sharks have been branded as villains or “man-eaters,” and have been feared and hunted for centuries. But is the media really classifying the right group as villains?

Humans fear the unknown and assumed threats, but sharks fear the legitimate perils that they face everyday. I know what you are thinking, what should sharks be afraid of? Well, it’s us. Humans threaten sharks livelihood day in and day out.  Sharks are some of the most biologically vulnerable creatures in the ocean because they grow slowly, mature late and produce few young.

In the 400 million years that sharks have roamed the ocean, they have been hunted for their meat, fins, teeth and more. Every day, 250,000 sharks are pulled out of the ocean and killed for their fins, meat and liver oil or as bycatch when they are accidentally caught in fishing nets or on hook and line. Humans slaughter more than 100 million sharks every year. Recently, overfishing has caused severe declines in shark populations.  The spiny dogfish shark, previously one of the most ample shark species in the works is now depleted off the U.S. East Coast.

Additionally, sharks face the threat of finning, the practice of cutting off the shark’s fin and tossing the carcass back into the water where they face a certain death. Shark fins are highly prized ingredients to a so-called delicacy, shark fin soup.  While shark finning has been banned in all U.S. waters, it still occurs legally in many parts of the world.

The negative media spotlight continues to hinder shark conservation efforts. Sharks are apex predators, which means they play a vital role atop the ocean food web, balancing many trophic systems. Because of this, shark conservation is crucial. The absence of sharks would threaten to affect the balance of delicate marine ecosystems that we have come to know and love.

Every year, dogs, bees, snakes, and pigs kill more people than sharks do. And in a single year in the United States, 43,000 people were injured by toilets while only 13 were wounded by sharks. That’s right—your toilet is 3,000 times more likely to hurt you than a shark.  Don’t let your misguided fear hinder shark conservation efforts and instead be educated on the legitimate risks associated with sharks.

Thanks to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the U.S. government is now protecting scalloped hammerheads under the Endangered Species Act. Scalloped hammerheads are the first shark species to ever receive such federal protections. You can do your part too, let NOAA know that you appreciate and support what they have done to protect scalloped hammerheads.

Let’s all be informed, aid conservation efforts and avoid being another shark’s nightmare.

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