The Blog Aquatic » beach cleanup http://blog.oceanconservancy.org News, opinions, photos and facts from Ocean Conservancy Thu, 28 Aug 2014 17:32:30 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.4.2 Thanks for Picking Up, Now Let’s Prevent It http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2013/09/25/thanks-for-picking-up-now-lets-prevent-it-2/ http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2013/09/25/thanks-for-picking-up-now-lets-prevent-it-2/#comments Wed, 25 Sep 2013 14:30:39 +0000 Nick Mallos http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/?p=6656

On Saturday, Sept. 21, millions of people around the world joined the world’s largest volunteer effort on behalf of ocean and waterway health. Thousands of International Coastal Cleanup events were held at locations ranging from beaches to riverfronts, lakeside to underwater reefs. Whether you picked one bottle cap off the beach or hauled a refrigerator from a creek bed, thank you for participating.

And everyone who participated helped tackle one of the biggest threats to the health and resiliency of our ocean and waterways: trash. This trash, namely disposable plastics, is entirely human-generated. That means it’s entirely preventable, and we can all play a role in solving it.

How can you help? There are still Cleanups happening all over the world, so you can find one near you or plan a small cleanup of your own with friends and family.

You can also continue to take personal responsibility for your trash—both at the beach and in everyday life. Trash is not just something we throw away. It’s tangible evidence of wasted resources. Pledge to reduce your consumption of one-time-use products, helping stop ocean trash before it starts.

And download Ocean Conservancy’s free mobile application Rippl to help you make simple, sustainable lifestyle choices that will help you save money and reduce your trash impact.

Together, we can work toward trash free seas.

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As Coastal Populations Grow, How Will We Reduce Our Impacts? http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2013/09/19/as-coastal-populations-grow-how-will-we-reduce-our-impacts/ http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2013/09/19/as-coastal-populations-grow-how-will-we-reduce-our-impacts/#comments Thu, 19 Sep 2013 16:00:31 +0000 Alexis Baldera http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/?p=6642 International Coastal Cleanup in the Gulf of Mexico

Photo © Cheryl Gerber / Ocean Conservancy

Some of the fastest growing populations in the United States are located in the Gulf Coast region. The population size in the Gulf states of Alabama, Florida, Mississippi, Louisiana and Texas is approximately 56 million, accounting for nearly 20 percent of the total U.S. population.

Growth in coastal populations is expected to put additional pressure on coastal and marine environments, including wildlife and water quality. In addition, rising sea levels, land subsidence and episodic storm events will also challenge human communities along the Gulf Coast.

Our Gulf of Mexico Ecosystem: A Coastal and Marine Atlas helps us see these interconnected issues. Check out the map below to see coastal population densities in the Gulf:

It is important that we lessen the impacts of dense human populations when we can. One of the easiest actions we can take is to reduce the amount of trash we put into the ecosystem and take out what is already there.

Marine debris is a serious pollution problem that affects the health of people, wildlife and economies. Trash in the water and on the shore can kill marine animals, injure swimmers and beachgoers, and ensnare boat propellers.

Come help us clean up the Gulf! During our International Coastal Cleanup on Sept. 21, volunteers will be cleaning up beaches all around the world, including many spots along the Gulf of Mexico. Click on the map below to find a Cleanup near you. Can’t participate in a Cleanup? Take the pledge to reduce your impact and help turn the tide on ocean trash.

Map of International Coastal Cleanup sites

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VIDEO: Immense Plastics, Many Perspectives, One Solution http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2013/09/03/video-immense-plastics-many-perspectives-one-solution/ http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2013/09/03/video-immense-plastics-many-perspectives-one-solution/#comments Tue, 03 Sep 2013 20:00:35 +0000 Nick Mallos http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/?p=6584

Scientists, artists, educators, citizens—we all view the world through different lenses but we can agree on one thing:  there is no place for plastics in our natural environment. This was the sentiment that brought together Team GYRE, a group of 14 experts from drastically different backgrounds—science, art, education, film—to research, educate and eliminate marine debris from the ocean.

Over the course of seven days, my teammates and I surveyed some of Alaska’s most remote beaches in an attempt to document the scale and scope of marine debris on the vast coastline. Alaska is unique in that the magnitude of debris on its isolated pocket beaches are is among the largest concentration of plastics and trash on this planet, yet adjacent to these artifacts of human consumerism, magnificent wildlife thrive both above and below the ocean’s surface.

The video above, produced by National Geographic, perfectly illustrates this contrast.

Expedition GYRE imparted in me great optimism. It revealed to me that although we have blemished some of our most treasured natural landscapes with unnatural articles, we have not entirely spoiled them. There is still time to mend the damage done from a period of time when we did not know the true impacts of our actions. But that era is now over and the evidence is far too great to ignore.

Without question, the challenge of trash and plastic pollution in our ocean is complex but it is not insurmountable. We all have a role to play, and there is no time like the present to start turning back the clock.

Join Ocean Conservancy and 500,000 other devoted ocean advocates on Sept. 21 to play your role in the fight against ocean trash by participating in the 28th annual International Coastal Cleanup.

Ocean trash is not an ocean problem, it’s a people problem. And that means we are the solution.

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Gulf of Maine Cleanups Show Ocean Trash Is Global Problem With Local Impacts, Solutions http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2013/08/28/gulf-of-maine-cleanups-show-ocean-trash-is-global-problem-with-local-impacts-solutions/ http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2013/08/28/gulf-of-maine-cleanups-show-ocean-trash-is-global-problem-with-local-impacts-solutions/#comments Wed, 28 Aug 2013 21:50:18 +0000 Allison Schutes http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/?p=6565 Scientist aboard American Promise empties a net full of marine debris

Photo: Allison Schutes / Ocean Conservancy

200 miles, 7 beaches, 4 islands and over 7,500 pieces of trash: These numbers can be used to describe my time with Rozalia Project in the Gulf of Maine. But they don’t tell the whole story. Instead “inspiring” seems to capture most of my emotions.

Incredible scenery and wildlife served as the backdrop for the long days we spent collecting and removing trash while living aboard American Promise. Not only were we surrounded by a large pod of Atlantic white-sided dolphins as we sailed south from Hurricane Island, but we also had a finback whale come within 5 meters of the boat at sunset. We saw the spouts of another whale in the moonlight reflecting off the ocean, and we observed harbor porpoises and seals, a pair of bald eagles and even an ocean sunfish, or Mola mola, in Gosport Harbor.

Our crew of 10—eight people and two dogs—were united with one goal: to remove as much trash from the shoreline and ocean surface as possible while recording data about each and every item we removed. Sailing from Bar Harbor to Kittery, Maine, we conducted seven shoreline cleanups on four different islands, and aboard American Promise, we performed three Neuston net tows and multiple dip-net sessions—all resulting in the collection of a lot of trash.

Despite traveling to several remote islands off Maine’s rocky coast, we found many of the same items that top our list during the International Coastal Cleanup every year. Items like food wrappers, plastic beverage bottles, foam cups and plates, and bottle caps were prevalent on almost every cleanup conducted while sailing through the Gulf of Maine.

These results are not incredibly surprising because we know that trash travels. Whether carried by the wind, current or human hands, everyday trash is able to make its way to even the most remote of places. For example, I pulled a food wrapper, a cigarette butt and a strap for sunglasses out of the water while sailing 50 miles off the coast of Portland, Maine.

Yet during this journey, single use plastic items were not our biggest finds. Fishing gear, including rope, monofilament line, fishing buoys, pots and traps, and lobster claw bands topped our list of items collected through the entire journey. We even found lobster bands, bleach and beverage bottles with French labels and markings, indicating these items may have started their journey in Canada.

All of these data are further indicative that ocean trash is a global problem with local impacts and local solutions. We all have a role to play in combating ocean trash, and joining us for the 28th International Coastal Cleanup is a great place to start.

Want to get started before the Cleanup? Take the pledge to help turn the tide on ocean trash.

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Setting Sail to Search for Marine Debris in the Gulf of Maine http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2013/08/14/setting-sail-to-search-for-marine-debris-in-the-gulf-of-maine/ http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2013/08/14/setting-sail-to-search-for-marine-debris-in-the-gulf-of-maine/#comments Wed, 14 Aug 2013 22:10:09 +0000 Allison Schutes http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/?p=6521 American Promise sailboat

Photo: Rozalia Project

This week, I’m sailing with Rozalia Project as a guest scientist onboard American Promise. I joined the crew in Bar Harbor, Maine, and I’m spending seven days sailing south through the Gulf of Maine with our journey concluding at the ship’s home port of Kittery, Maine.

My home away from home is Rozalia Project’s “mother ship,” American Promise. Not originally meant to be a garbage-hunter, American Promise has a storied past. She was designed by America’s Cup champion Ted Hood to sail around the world in record time. From November 1985 to April 1986, American Promise did just that when Dodge Morgan became the first American to sail around the world alone in record-breaking time.

One of the main goals of this sail will be to remove as much trash from the water as possible. Much of our work regarding marine debris is centered around the items found along our coastlines and floating on the surface of coastal and inland waterways. However, we know marine debris comes in all shapes and sizes and is present throughout the water column.

In addition to using nets to gather debris, the Rozalia Project team is also equipped with two remotely operated vehicles that are able to reach depths of up to 1,000 feet. The ROVs will enable us to reach debris otherwise inaccessible to humans due to the depth, pressure or water temperature. The ROVs also allow for zero-impact trash removal, ensuring debris doesn’t drag along the seafloor or have an effect on marine life.

Removing trash from the water isn’t our only task. We will also be conducting beach cleanups on remote islands in the Gulf of Maine. Despite their location and the fact that the islands are relatively uninhabited, I expect to find many of the same trash items that we find during the annual International Coastal Cleanup.

How is that possible? Trash travels, and plastic items such as bottle caps, food wrappers and bags are easily carried by wind or storm water into local waterways and eventually to the ocean.

Throughout this entire journey, I will be collecting data on each item we collect, trying to find out more about that item and where it is from, and then hypothesizing on how exactly it made its way to the Gulf of Maine.

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Surfing Safari No More: Trash Has Arrived in Paradise http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2013/08/13/surfing-safari-no-more-trash-has-arrived-in-paradise/ http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2013/08/13/surfing-safari-no-more-trash-has-arrived-in-paradise/#comments Tue, 13 Aug 2013 18:00:48 +0000 Nick Mallos http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/?p=6511 surfer

Photo: Colm Walsh via Flickr

Trash travels. It’s a phrase that’s been uttered hundreds, maybe thousands of times to convey the pervasiveness of trash and plastics in our global ocean.

But now trash has infiltrated the lineup—that congregation of surfers floating just beyond the furthest break, each one jockeying to get the jump on the next wave. For me, the lineup has always been a place of simultaneous solitude, camaraderie and exhilaration. It is a firewall between tranquility and unrivaled adrenaline.

Indonesia—better known as “Indo” in the surfing world—is a mecca for surfers seeking some of the world’s most secluded yet infamous breaks. It’s an idyllic place. Placid turquoise seas erupt into mountains of water that break with tremendous power onto razor-sharp reefs just inches below the surface.

Surfers who triumphantly survive barreling tubes in this part of the world are almost surreal and have often earned the brave rider “Wave of the Year” honors.

During a recent trip to Bali, though, surfer and photographer, Zak Noyle, captured images of a new kind of barrel—one that may become as infamous as the waves themselves: waves of trash.

It could be said that the waves were perfect on a recent morning at a remote location in Java, in southern Indonesia.

Perfect, except for the appalling amount of trash and other debris, which transformed the typically amazing experience of getting barreled into one that left both surfer and photographer feeling nauseated.

What can we do to keep our breaks a little cleaner and prevent these waves of trash from crashing on our shores?

For starters, I’ll be paddling out on Sept. 21 to participate in the International Coastal Cleanup, and I hope you’ll join me at your local break or on a beach or waterway near you.

We can also make small changes in our everyday lives that help reduce our trash impact. Download Ocean Conservancy’s free mobile application, Rippl, to help you make simple, sustainable lifestyle choices.

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VIDEO: My GYRE Expedition to Alaska’s Remote Coastline http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2013/07/22/an-expedition-to-alaska/ http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2013/07/22/an-expedition-to-alaska/#comments Mon, 22 Jul 2013 19:39:16 +0000 Nick Mallos http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/?p=6349
This video is the final update from Ocean Conservancy Conservation Biologist and Marine Debris Specialist Nicholas Mallos about his GYRE Expedition in Alaska. Read his first update here, his second here and his third here.

I recently returned from an expedition to survey ocean trash on some of the most remote coastlines in all of Alaska. Rarely do you get the opportunity to be so close to the very animals you are working to protect.

In this video that I shot during the trip, I explain what I saw on my journey, from marine debris that would dwarf a human to breaching humpbacks, fin whales, mothers and their calves. Yes, we have blemished these landscapes, but the incredible wildlife that still thrive there is all the more the reason to continue our work to keep trash out of our waterways and our ocean.

Watch the video and join the fight for a healthy ocean.

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