The Blog Aquatic http://blog.oceanconservancy.org News, opinions, photos and facts from Ocean Conservancy Fri, 19 Sep 2014 14:44:10 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.4.2 Will We See You Tomorrow at the 29th Annual International Coastal Cleanup http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2014/09/19/will-we-see-you-tomorrow-at-the-29th-annual-international-coastal-cleanup/ http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2014/09/19/will-we-see-you-tomorrow-at-the-29th-annual-international-coastal-cleanup/#comments Fri, 19 Sep 2014 14:00:44 +0000 Allison Schutes http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/?p=9248

Photo: Ocean Conservancy

The 29th annual International Coastal Cleanup is tomorrow! I’m extremely excited to see the amazing impact volunteers will have – and I can only image all the weird items we’ll find on our beaches.

Marine debris isn’t an ocean problem – it’s a people problem. That means people are the solution. More than 648,000 volunteers cleaned almost 13,000 miles of beaches and shorelines last year alone. That massive effort collectively removed 12.3 million pounds of trash worldwide!

You can be part of this marine debris solution by joining us tomorrow! A great way to turn the tide on trash is to sign up to clean up your local beach, shoreline or park as part of this year’s International Coastal Cleanup. Preventing the trash we find on beaches and shorelines from ever entering the ocean isn’t the only way of making our seas trash free. However, it’s an important step to protecting endangered animals that are threatened by marine debris.

You can also join the 25,000 people taking the Last Straw Challenge. Every time you’re at a sit down restaurant, tell your waiter to hold the straw. You can help prevent 5 million plastic straws from entering our ocean and landfills by not using a straw when you go out to eat.

Plastic pollution poses a significant threat. Plastics fragment in the ocean and become bite-sized pieces that marine life can accidentally consume. This can cause digestive problems for ocean animals and even death. Spending some time cleaning your beach can have an amazing impact on marine life like sea turtles and seals.

If you can’t join us tomorrow, it’s okay. Cleaning up beaches and shorelines isn’t just a one-day affair. The most important thing you can do when you go to the beach is to leave it just as you found it – or leave it in an even better condition for your next trip. Cigarette butts, food wrappers, plastic bottle caps and straws all make the top 10 most collected items of trash we find during the International Coastal Cleanup. You can be an ocean champion every day by collecting any trash you find out of place.

If you’re at a Cleanup site tomorrow, we want to hear from you! Tweet us your ICC experience by using #2014CleanUp. If you find something weird, tweet or Instagram a picture of it using #WeirdFinds.

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Two Days Until the International Coastal Cleanup http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2014/09/18/two-more-days-until-the-international-coastal-cleanup/ http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2014/09/18/two-more-days-until-the-international-coastal-cleanup/#comments Thu, 18 Sep 2014 15:31:37 +0000 Jackie Yeary http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/?p=9242

The International Coastal Cleanup is only two days away! We can’t wait to see all of you at your local beaches and waterways this weekend! You can check out our map to find the cleanup location nearest you, if you haven’t already.

If you’re planning on coming to the cleanup, we recommend that you wear closed-toe shoes, sunscreen and a hat. If you have work gloves or a bucket, feel free to bring them along, but our Cleanup Coordinators will provide any other supplies you may need.

If you’re on Instagram or Twitter, be sure to tag your posts with #2014Cleanup so we can see all of the great work you’re doing! And if you find anything cool or unusual, send us a photo tagged #WeirdFind. We’ll be sharing some of our favorites on our social media channels!

We’re so grateful that you’ll be joining us for the 29th annual International Coastal Cleanup! It’s an important part of solving our ocean trash problem. Thank you again for signing up– and we’ll see you at the beach on Saturday!

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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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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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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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Petition: Help Kids Protect the Ocean http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2014/09/09/petition-help-kids-protect-the-ocean/ http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2014/09/09/petition-help-kids-protect-the-ocean/#comments Tue, 09 Sep 2014 12:05:06 +0000 Allison Schutes http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/?p=9194

Thanks to a group of fifth grade students who care passionately about the environment, Dunkin’ Donuts has agreed to stop using foam cups at all their store locations. These young students researched the problems associated with foam cups and were really upset to learn that foam products fragment into the ocean, where fish, sea turtles, or seabirds can mistakenly eat the plastic bits. Nearly 350,000 foam cups, plates and food containers were removed from beaches by volunteers during the 2013 International Coastal Cleanup alone.

The students launched a petition on Change.org asking Dunkin’ Donuts to stop using foam cups and have had an amazing show of public support more than 272,000 people signed on to their petition!

Ocean Conservancy wants to thank Dunkin’ Donuts for committing to making these changes. Dunkin’ Donuts has already launched in-store foam recycling pilot projects and are working to introduce an improved reusable cup program in the next 6-12 months.

Will you join us in applauding Dunkin’ Donuts for taking those steps towards improving their environmental footprint?

There’s just one more donut hole size ask we want to make of Dunkin’ — and that’s to commit to a timeline for phasing out polystyrene foam cups from their stores.

Let’s join together to sweeten the deal to truly help protect the environment that these students will grow up to take care of.

Kids don’t often have a big voice when it comes to policies but with a lot of passion and determination, these amazing young students have been able to have a big voice in support of a cleaner ocean.

Please join us today!

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Trash-Talking On Our 42nd Birthday http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2014/09/07/trash-talking-on-our-42nd-birthday/ http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2014/09/07/trash-talking-on-our-42nd-birthday/#comments Sun, 07 Sep 2014 12:00:43 +0000 Andreas Merkl http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/?p=9177  

Photo: Kanyarat Kosavisutte

Ocean Conservancy is turning 42 today – that makes us one of the oldest conservation organizations in the US.  But 42 is the new 17, and we’re feeling anything but settled these days.  Sure, we are delighted at our successes (none more so than the complete turnaround of US fisheries).  There are definitely a few things that really frost our cookies – and none more so than that disgusting and dangerous mess that is clinically known as “marine debris.”

Let’s call it what it is:  trash in the ocean. The ocean contains a staggering amount of it.  There’s enough to fill more than 200 professional football stadiums. In ten years or so, there will be one ton of trash for every 2-3 tons of fish.  If you love the ocean, that’s just completely unacceptable.

And it’s not like that trash just bobs around on the surface (about 70 percent of plastics produced float), looking ugly but doing little harm.  Quite the opposite – we have report after report coming in that most of the plastic degrades into tiny pieces, which, if you’re an anchovy or a sardine or a turtle, look a lot like food.  Much of it is eaten and is inside the animals.  And to makes things worse, these tiny plastic pellets have the nasty property of adsorbing and concentrating the low-level industrial pollution that is ubiquitous in seawater, effectively turning plastic fragments into toxic pellets.  So what we get is a slow contamination of the entire ocean biota.

The majority of ocean trash hails from rapidly industrializing countries where plastics consumption is exploding and waste management infrastructure lags far behind.  Eventually, these countries will implement waste systems, but by then it will be too late – plastics stick around the ocean for hundreds of years.  Unfortunately, there are no silver bullet solutions – plastics are unlikely to be banned or replaced in time to avoid the avalanche over the next ten years. To address the systemic problem, what is needed is for plastic and consumer product industries to step to the forefront and put their enormous resources to work.  We can’t do it without them.  Nobody knows logistics better.  Nobody is more skilled at social marketing.  And certainly, nobody has more financial resources.

We are starting a major campaign on ocean trash that goes far beyond the scope of our traditional International Coastal Cleanup.  In the years to come, we will lead the development of an entirely new approach to financing and establishing critically needed infrastructure in those places which spew the most plastic into the ocean.  Stay close, stay tuned in, and become involved.  We can do this.

Forty-two has never looked better. And our biggest birthday wish is to stop the flow of plastics into the ocean.  But before we can achieve that reality, the best gift you can give us for our birthday is to join us on September 20 for the International Coastal Cleanup.

We thank you. And the ocean thanks you.

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