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Postcards from Louisiana

Posted On April 21, 2015 by

In honor of the 5-year anniversary of the BP Deepwater Horizon oil disaster, Ocean Conservancy interviewed residents about the spill, its impacts and what the Gulf means to them. Over the next 87 days—the length of the spill itself—we will be releasing “postcards from the Gulf” to share their stories. This blog is the second of a four-part series featuring some of the full-length interviews from our postcards.  Be sure to follow Ocean Conservancy on Facebook and Twitter over the next couple of months to see all of the postcards.

Chief Albert Naquin
Isle de Jean Charles Band of Biloxi-Chitimacha-Choctaw
Pointe-aux-Chenes, LA

At the edge of Terrebonne Parish, Louisiana there is a narrow road bordered on both sides by piles of rocks and nearly open water peppered with the remnants of what was once thick marsh. This road leads to a small island, only a couple miles long and a half -mile wide. The island, called Isle de Jean Charles, is home to a Band of Biloxi-Chitimacha-Choctaw Indians, who settled there more than two centuries ago. The land, which sustained this tribe for generations, is vanishing.

Chief Albert Naquin has served as tribal leader since 1997. He reflects on what life was like on the island: “The land has changed in my lifetime from what it was to what it is today. When I was growing up, we could catch our fish, catch our seafood and wildlife that we needed to survive. Now we have no land; basically it’s all water.”

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New Industry Technologies Speak to the Need for Smart Ocean Planning

Posted On April 21, 2015 by

Photo: Brian Kusko

Throughout America’s history, the majority of products we import have arrived by ship. For much of the last two centuries these ships have been powered by coal and diesel.  This past Saturday in San Diego, California, TOTE Maritime launched the first cargo ship to use liquid natural gas (LNG) as the primary fuel, which will meaningfully reduce shipping emissions relative to other traditional fuels.  This is just one of many rapid and significant changes we are seeing in the operations of the age-old shipping industry.

Another new technology that has the potential to significantly change the footprint of human uses in the ocean is being developed by offshore wind companies. For example, Principle Power, based in Seattle, Washington, is designing a floating wind turbine foundation that will allow for the siting of offshore wind installations regardless of water depth.  Until now, offshore wind has been constrained to areas closer to shore because of the need for foundations connected to the ocean floor.

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The Five “Rs” of Oil Spills

Posted On April 16, 2015 by

Five years ago, I didn’t know much about oil spills. I worked for an environmental nonprofit in coastal Alabama, where I could literally see natural gas rigs pumping in the distance when I stood on the beach. But I didn’t think much about what a big spill could mean for my community until the worst-case scenario showed up on my doorstep.

Now, on the eve of the five-year memorial of the BP Deepwater Horizon explosion that took the lives of 11 men and led to the largest environmental disaster in U.S. history, I know a great deal more about oil spills and the toll they can take on communities.

Here are the five most important lessons I’ve learned in the last five years.

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Little Footprints in the Sand—A First Trip to the Ocean

Posted On April 15, 2015 by

A successful trip for Grandma, introducing her newest love Maggie, to her oldest love, the ocean.

This is a story about family, but also about love and nature and tradition. My mother was raised in Iowa, more than 1,000 miles from the nearest coast. Yet, she was always fascinated by the ocean—studying biology at a time when women were told they couldn’t be scientists and moving to the Caribbean as a young biology teacher—spending all her free time bumming rides on scuba diving trips.

Life took her back up to the frozen tundra of Minnesota, but she did her best to instill her love of the ocean in myself and my brother. My first experience in the sea was as a six-year-old—swimming after stingrays, angelfish and sea turtles—marveling at the coral right at my fingertips. Continued exposure to nature—whether snorkeling in the ocean, hiking in the deserts or camping in the north woods—predictably led me to a career in conservation science and policy.

When my niece, Maggie, was born 18 months ago, Mom started planning her introduction to the sea. In January, Grandma and Granddaughter trudged through the snow for weekly swimming lessons. In February, the flights were booked and miniature sunglasses were purchased. Stepping out of the Fort Meyers airport in March, Mom declared she could already smell the salt in the air.

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Tell Secretary Kerry: Stand Up for Arctic Wildlife

Posted On April 14, 2015 by

Polar Bears, ringed seals and beluga whales are seeing their home disappear. Protecting the Arctic Ocean would give them and all the animals who call the Arctic home a fighting chance.

In just two weeks, Secretary of State John Kerry is taking part in an Arctic Council meeting of leaders from every country with territory in the Arctic. The U.S. will take over as Chair of the Arctic Council that week.

He has already agreed that the Arctic Council should focus on protecting the Arctic Ocean. We need Secretary Kerry to keep his commitment and use the Arctic Council meeting to ensure that Arctic nations come together to conserve the Arctic Ocean.

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Postcards from Alabama

Posted On April 13, 2015 by

To commemorate five years since the BP Deepwater Horizon oil disaster began, Ocean Conservancy interviewed residents about the disaster, its impacts and what the Gulf means to them. Over the next 87 days—the length of the disaster itself—we will be releasing “postcards from the Gulf” to share their stories. This blog is the first in a series of full-length interviews from our postcards.  Be sure to follow Ocean Conservancy on Facebook and Twitter over the next couple of months to see all of the postcards.

Alabama is a special place, not only because of its unique landscape and abundant wildlife but also because of its people. Those of us who grew up in coastal Alabama did so with fishing pole in hand and feet in the water. It’s a privilege to work each day to preserve and protect this beautiful place alongside incredible people like Tammy and Matt. Here are their postcards.

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