Ocean Currents » The News Aquatic http://blog.oceanconservancy.org News, opinions, photos and facts from Ocean Conservancy Fri, 27 Feb 2015 16:41:20 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.4.2 Remembering Dr. Eugenie Clark, the “Shark Lady” http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2015/02/27/remembering-dr-eugenie-clark-the-shark-lady/ http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2015/02/27/remembering-dr-eugenie-clark-the-shark-lady/#comments Fri, 27 Feb 2015 16:08:11 +0000 Adena Leibman http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/?p=9952

The ocean lost an amazing ally this week. Dr. Eugenie Clark passed away at the age of 92 in Sarasota, Florida. She received her Ph.D. from New York University and embarked on a 50+ year career in the name of the ocean. She worked in a variety of prestigious research institutions, including the American Museum of Natural History and the Scripps Institution of Oceanography. She founded the Cape Haze Marine Laboratory (now the Mote Marine Laboratory) in Sarasota, which conducts research on sharks and a number of other marine species and issues.

It’s difficult for me to properly express how much Dr. Eugenie Clark meant to me. Since I was two or three, I knew I wanted to work for the oceans. My family was incredibly supportive, taking me to numerous aquariums and trips to the beach, letting me decorate my room with shark posters, jaws, and sharks in jars, humoring me when I asked for a membership to the Center for Marine Conservation (now Ocean Conservancy) as a birthday present, and leading me towards scientists and pioneers in the field as my role models. Of those great science and political icons that I latched onto, Dr. Eugenie Clark was at the top of my list.

“Shark Lady,” a biography about her life and work, was the first chapter book I ever read. I taped and repeatedly watched her TV appearances. During elementary school, I wrote to tell her about my latest shark-themed science fair project and saltwater career plans. After spending a number of years buried in my graduate work and law school textbooks, my sister managed to have Dr. Clark sign two of her books for me in congratulations for completing my juris doctor in 2013. They remain among my most prized possessions.

It’s easy to understand how Dr. Clark could be such a driving force for a budding ocean scientist and advocate such as myself. She was immune to societal boundaries, building a prolific scientific career in a traditionally male-dominated field on her own terms. Dr. Clark was proof that you really could have it all; she balanced her seemingly insatiable drive for knowledge with a family and a career that took her around the world (sometimes on the back of whale sharks).

She was a powerful voice in changing the public’s perception of sharks. Long before GPS tracking was making great whites (the first of which by OCEARCH was nicknamed ‘Genie’ in Dr. Clark’s honor) and other notorious “man eater” species more accessible to the public, Dr. Clark was a strong advocate in educating people about the wonder of sharks, and we’re starting to see a real sea change in how people view and appreciate sharks. Global support is increasing for bans on shark finning, some sharks and rays finally received protections under CITES, and shark sanctuaries have been established off the coasts of Honduras, the Bahamas, and French Polynesia.

Sharks still face threats from overfishing, finning, entanglement with fishing gear (bycatch), and climate change. Thankfully, I’m certain that I’m not the only ocean advocate that Dr. Clark inspired. There are generations of scientists and policy-makers who are working for sharks and the oceans thanks to her work. Dr. Clark’s legacy will continue in the good work of others and in every shark saved thanks to her influence. She will be greatly missed.

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Local Boston Theater Raises Funds and Awareness for Ocean Conservancy http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2015/02/26/local-boston-theater-raises-funds-and-awareness-for-ocean-conservancy/ http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2015/02/26/local-boston-theater-raises-funds-and-awareness-for-ocean-conservancy/#comments Thu, 26 Feb 2015 17:03:39 +0000 Brett Nolan http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/?p=9940

Photo: Debbie Morey

The Poets’ Theater in Cambridge, Massachusetts, has put on nearly 50 performances of its show Albatross, based on “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner” by Samuel Taylor Coleridge. Ocean Conservancy supports efforts to protect all marine life, including sea birds like the albatross, so a partnership with The Poets’ Theater seemed natural. We even have an albatross in our logo!

The Rime of the Ancient Mariner is a poem that tells the tale of a lost sailor and his crew who are helped out of the Antarctic by an albatross. Despite the aid, the mariner kills the giant bird. The mariner then loses his entire crew, suffers great storms, and even faces manifestations of death as punishment for his crime against nature. The mariner is cursed to forever tell his tale as warning to others. Albatross follows the immortal mariner’s travels 300 years later in the year 2015.

Benjamin Evett, the one-man show’s star and cowriter, wanted this epic story about the sea to support Ocean Conservancy’s efforts. Online and at the end of every performance, he asks audience members to donate to the Poets’ Theatre and to Ocean Conservancy. Despite Boston being blanketed by several feet of snow, they’ve managed to find an audience and raise both awareness and funds for Ocean Conservancy.

To Benjamin, this is a timeless story that has as very powerful message about how people treat the natural world. “It’s a play about thoughtless actions. The mariner’s punished as an example of how important it is to be mindful of all living things.”

The Poets’ Theater seems to be as immortal as the mariner himself. It was first established in 1950 to give poets a stage to share their craft. A fire forced its doors shut a dozen years later. Nearly 25 years after that, the theater was resurrected in 1986 and continued until 2004. Albatross ushered in a new era for the theater last September.

Albatross’ life may prove to be just as long. Benjamin hopes to take the show on the road and perform in various other cities.

If you’d like to see Albatross before it soars away from The Poets’ Theater on March 1, click here for tickets!

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(E)PS, We Don’t Love You http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2015/01/12/eps-we-dont-love-you/ http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2015/01/12/eps-we-dont-love-you/#comments Mon, 12 Jan 2015 18:11:08 +0000 Nick Mallos http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/?p=9685

New York City officially became the largest U.S. city to ban expanded polystyrene (EPS) foam last week! The momentum for EPS bans has been steadily increasing, and more than 70 cities have made the cut!

Frequently used for take-out containers, disposable drink cups and other single-use products, EPS is a hazard to our environment—not only because of its brittle nature and propensity to fragment into small pieces—but also because it can’t be recycled, economically. This is compounded by the fact that we use so much of it! Last year, the city of New York collected about 28,500 tons of polystyrene! (That’s a lot of take-out!)

After the announcement was made official, New York Mayor Bill de Blasio said, “These products cause real environmental harm and have no place in New York City.” Or the ocean, if you ask us!

Each year during Ocean Conservancy’s International Coastal Cleanup, volunteers pick up millions of EPS products and pieces. During the 2013 Cleanup alone, 1.2 million items made of EPS were removed from beaches and waterways!

New York City’s ban on polystyrene foam is a huge step for our ocean. Not only will it eliminate the possibility of harmful waste from entering our environment, it also sets the precedent for other cities to follow suit. Bans and taxes on single-use products, like EPS food and beverage packaging, are key steps in preventing trash from entering our ocean.

Mayor de Blasio stated “…today’s announcement is a major step towards our goal of a greener, greater New York City.” And on an island where all streets lead to the sea, the Big Apple’s decision to say farewell to foam will lead to a healthier and more resilient Hudson River, New York Harbor, and Atlantic Ocean.

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Shell’s Kulluk Disaster Featured in New York Times Sunday Magazine http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2015/01/02/shells-kulluk-disaster-featured-in-new-york-times-sunday-magazine/ http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2015/01/02/shells-kulluk-disaster-featured-in-new-york-times-sunday-magazine/#comments Fri, 02 Jan 2015 15:19:09 +0000 Andrew Hartsig http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/?p=9668

Photo: Coast Guard

In late December of 2012, one of Shell Oil’s Arctic drillships, the Kulluk, snapped its tow-line during a powerful storm in the North Pacific. After multiple failed attempts to re-establish a tow, the Coast Guard evacuated the crew of the Kulluk, rescue tugs abandoned their efforts to pull the ship to safety, and the Kulluk grounded on Sitkalidak Island near Kodiak, Alaska.  The January 4 issue of the New York Times Sunday Magazine tells the dramatic story of the events that led up to the disaster in an article entitled, The Wreck of the Kulluk.

The Sunday Magazine story tells a gripping tale, especially if you like accounts of drama on the sea. Aside from being a good read, the story makes clear that Shell and its contractors easily could have avoided the disaster. Before leaving port, the tug’s tow master predicted that Kulluk’s planned route “guarantees an ass kicking.” Warnings signs don’t get much clearer than that. But the tow master’s caution, like many other warning signs—was ignored.

I wrote about Shell’s multiple mistakes and its failure to recognize risk in this blog post, which was published soon after the Coast Guard released a report on its investigation into the Kulluk incident. Another  Coast Guard investigation led to the recent announcement that Shell contractor Noble Drilling would plead guilty to eight felony charges and pay more than $12 million in fines relating to violations onboard Shell’s other Arctic drillship, the Noble Discoverer.

Unfortunately, Shell wants to return to the Arctic this coming summer. The oil giant has submitted plans to bring the Noble Discoverer and another drillship to the Chukchi Sea this year. That could spell double trouble for the Arctic. Tell the Secretary of the Interior to say “no” to Shell’s risky drilling plans. Please sign our petition today.

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Celebrating 2014’s Ocean Victories http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2014/12/29/celebrating-2014s-ocean-victories/ http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2014/12/29/celebrating-2014s-ocean-victories/#comments Mon, 29 Dec 2014 14:00:48 +0000 Brett Nolan http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/?p=9644

Photo: Tony Prince

This year was a great year for the ocean! We were able to make waves and accomplish some truly amazing things thanks to supporters and ocean lovers like you. From saving baby sea turtles to protecting the Arctic from reckless oil drilling, here are just a few of the major victories our ocean saw this year.

Gulf Leaders Protect the Gulf’s Deep Water

It’s been nearly 5 years since the BP Deepwater Horizon oil disaster, and Gulf leaders have proven they’re dedicated to restoring the Gulf’s shore as well as the Gulf’s deep water.  Mississippi, Alabama and Florida will invest in projects that protect dolphins and manatees, track the recovery of fish species like red snapper, and map the seafloor to inform sustainable fishing practices.

The U.S. Has Ambitious Plans to Protect the Arctic

In 2014, the eight-nation Arctic Council announced that the U.S. would assume the Council’s  Chair position for the next two years beginning in April 2015. As Chair, the U.S. hopes to focus on the impacts of climate change on the Arctic, encourage sustainable development in remote Arctic communities, and improve stewardship of the Arctic Ocean.

Smart Ocean Planning Gets Public Support from the Obama Administration

The Obama Administration publicly committed to completing smart ocean plans for the New England and Mid-Atlantic regions by the end of 2016. Smart ocean planning will make sure all stakeholders in these regions have a seat at the table. This will ensure valuable input from those who depend on the ocean for food, transportation, energy and recreation.

The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals Rules in Favor of the Ocean

The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals dismissed a lawsuit that Shell brought against Ocean Conservancy and several other conservation and Alaska Native organizations. Shell received permits from federal agencies to drill in the Arctic years ago and preemptively sued Ocean Conservancy and other organizations to stop us from challenging the validity of those permits. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals agreed with us that Shell’s lawsuit was just an attempt to intimidate nonprofits and discourage them from opposing risky Arctic drilling.

Businesses Stepped Up to Protect the Ocean

Thanks to the hard work of ocean loving school children, Dunkin’ Donuts has agreed to phase out the use of Styrofoam cups. Hilton Worldwide also announced that they would no longer be serving or taking new orders for shark fin dishes.

Congress Invests in Our Ocean’s Health

Ocean lovers made sure that ocean and marine life were top priorities for Congress. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) will receive $5.4 billion for their 2015 fiscal year budget. Ocean Acidification research will receive $8.5 million, a $2.5 million increase. Regional Coastal Resilience Grants, funds built to help communities deal with changes in marine ecosystems and economic shifts, will receive $5 million in funding. And attempts in Congress to weaken the National Ocean Policy were thwarted.

World Leaders Addressed Ocean Issues

We joined world leaders, scientists, and other ocean advocates at the Our Ocean Conference, hosted by Secretary John Kerry. Andreas Merkl, our CEO, spoke on a panel about the dangers of marine debris and how we can solve this problem together.

East Coast States Tackle Ocean Acidification

Maine and Maryland are leading the charge against ocean acidification on the East Coast. Both of these states have a rich maritime history. However, ocean acidification is threatening not only their way of life, but also their businesses and livelihoods. Maine and Maryland legislatures have formed a commission and taskforce to study the impacts of ocean acidification on each state’s coastal ecosystems and commercial shellfish industries.

The Gulf’s Iconic Red Snapper Gets a Major Boost

The Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council passed a measure called Amendment 40 that allows separate management of private recreational anglers and for-hire charter vessels that fish for red snapper. This is great news because it allows for better management strategies that are tailored to individual needs of fishermen. It also helps the red snapper’s long-term recovery.

We Protected Baby Sea Turtles with Your Help

We expanded our Preserve the Spirit: The Sea Turtle Protection Partnership thanks to generous supporters like you. This program had volunteers remove marine debris from beaches where sea turtles nest. These volunteers made beaches safer for baby sea turtles and provided us invaluable data on the threats sea turtles face.

International Coastal Cleanup Day 2014

We celebrated the 29th Annual International Coastal Cleanup Day in 2014. The report on what we found will be released in next spring. And we’ve already started planning big things for the ICC’s 30th birthday in 2015.

Thank you again for being a part of our amazing year. We look forward to seeing what we can accomplish together in 2015!

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It’s Your Last Chance! Donate to Get an Ocean Conservancy Calendar http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2014/10/23/its-your-last-chance-donate-to-get-an-ocean-conservancy-calendar/ http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2014/10/23/its-your-last-chance-donate-to-get-an-ocean-conservancy-calendar/#comments Thu, 23 Oct 2014 18:36:55 +0000 Marie Michelson http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/?p=9385

Photo: Ken Shew

Get your free 2015 Ocean Wildlife calendar in time for the holidays! If you donate by October 23, we’ll send you a free calendar featuring your favorite marine animals like whales, seals and sea turtles.

What are you waiting for? Today is your last day to donate and get this exclusive 2015 Ocean Wildlife calendar from Ocean Conservancy. Your support will help Ocean Conservancy pursue innovative solutions that will bring lasting, positive change for the ocean.

All of our success in this year is thanks to our supporters. All around the world, more than half a million people came out to clean their local beaches and shorelines for the International Coastal Cleanup. More than 25,000 people took our Last Straw Challenge and pledged to cut plastic straws out of their lives and help keep five million straws out of our ocean and landfills! We advocated for smart legislation that protects vulnerable marine life populations, like telling the U.S. government not to support Shell’s risky Arctic drilling. We accomplished so much. Please help us continue this momentum into next year.

As Ocean Conservancy enters its fifth decade of leadership for the ocean, we’re stretching our thinking even further, imagining the very best for our ocean, and pursuing innovative solutions that will bring lasting, positive change. We hope we can count on you to stand with us in our fight for a clean and healthy 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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