Governor Quinn’s strong stance against microbeads in cosmetics has major implications for the health of our ocean. All too frequently, these plastic bits find their way into the ocean where they pollute the water and are accidentally ingested by fish. Banning their manufacture and sale brings us one step closer to the trash free seas (and lakes) we deserve.
Plastics are everywhere. And by that I don’t just mean in the physical sense, but also in terms of the media. Everywhere I look lately newspaper and blog headlines are focused on the increased pervasiveness of plastic pollution in our ocean.
Plastic in our ocean — I think we can all agree this isn’t a good combination. The question is what do we do about it? This year, Ocean Conservancy and our partners collected the largest amount of trash in the 28-year history of our International Coastal Cleanup. In that time, volunteers have removed more than 175 million pounds of trash, much of it plastic, from beaches and waterways around the world. From this first-hand experience, we know the problem is getting worse, and it goes deeper than you might think. The good news is this is a problem we can fix. It will require a new approach to how we deal with plastic pollution, but it is a global issue we can and must solve. Let’s consider the facts. In the next 25 years, ocean plastics could grow to 300-500 million tons, or about one pound of plastics for every two pounds of fish in the sea. So where does it all go? We can’t yet say for sure, but when plastic fragments into smaller, bite-sized pieces, we do know that it is being ingested by fish, sea turtles, marine mammals, and a host of other ocean creatures. Because plastic particles adsorb pollutants in concentrations that can be 100,000 to 1 million times greater than that found in surrounding seawater, the implications to the health of marine life are profound and deeply troubling.
Today is dedicated to celebrating all the amazing dads in the world. However, human dads aren’t the only spectacular paternal figures in nature. Here are some examples of great ocean dads who might be as incredible as your dad.
After traveling over 60 miles inland on Antarctica and laying her egg, the female emperor penguin makes the long journey back to the ocean to hunt for food. This leaves the male emperor penguin to care for the egg for two months. Trying to breed in the Antarctic winter was the easy part for these dads. The male will carefully keep his egg covered by his feathered skin, called a brood pouch, to protect it from the extreme Antarctic cold of June and July. While caring for the egg, this penguin dad will forgo eating to ensure his baby’s safety. By the time mom comes back two months later, the male emperor penguin may have lost nearly half of his body weight. Since fat is the main way that emperor penguins stay warm, it’s a testament to these dads’ devotion to their young that they’re able to endure the Antarctic cold on half their body weight. Once reunited, penguin parents share the responsibility of taking care of their chick by taking turns feeding it and keeping it warm.
On June 16-17th, Secretary of State John Kerry and the Department of State will bring together scientists, stakeholders and leaders from around the world for the Our Ocean Conference. This international event will focus on three pressing ocean issues: sustainable fisheries, marine pollution, and ocean acidification. I am honored to be speaking on the ocean acidification panel at this conference.
I will be sharing stories I gathered from my year-long Watson Fellowship, studying how ocean acidification might affect human communities around the world. Over that year, I saw just how far-reaching ocean acidification’s impacts could be. We already know, from our experience in the US, that it hurts shellfish growers and the communities that depend on them. But around the world, there are whole countries and communities that depend on threatened species, such as coral for tourism, and fish for food and livelihoods. The stories I heard convinced me that we need to raise awareness and take action against ocean acidification at the international level. Here are some of those stories:
Enter your photos today to help celebrate the ocean, raise money for ocean conservation, and win great prizes! We have moved our photo contest from the winter to the summer and are expecting this change to bring in even more amazing photos.