Ocean Currents » beaches http://blog.oceanconservancy.org News, opinions, photos and facts from Ocean Conservancy Tue, 25 Apr 2017 13:47:57 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.4.2 San Francisco Bans Polystyrene Foam http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2016/07/07/san-francisco-bans-polystyrene-foam/ http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2016/07/07/san-francisco-bans-polystyrene-foam/#comments Thu, 07 Jul 2016 17:30:38 +0000 Nick Mallos http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/?p=12400

Great news from the west coast! Last week, the San Francisco County Board of Supervisors unanimously passed a ban on the sale of polystyrene foam. Foam packing, cups and mooring buoys will be prohibited starting January 1, 2017. This is a major win for the health of our ocean and marine life!

As you may already know, the problems associated with expanded polystyrene (foam) products is that they often fragment into small pieces once in the ocean, where fish, sea turtles or seabirds can mistakenly eat the tiny plastic bits. Nearly 425,000 foam cups, plates and food containers were removed from beaches by volunteers during the 2015 International Coastal Cleanup alone. And even more astounding are the more than 950,000 pieces of foam volunteers found on beaches around the globe during the 2015 Cleanup.

The ban in San Francisco is another step towards trash free seas! We continue to see dirty beaches and debris floating on the ocean’s surface. That’s why my colleagues and I are committed to continuing to work to stop the flow of trash at the source, before it has a chance to reach the water to choke and entangle dolphins or endanger sea turtles, or ruin our beaches and depress our local economies.

Will you help to stop the flow of trash into the ocean? I have two quick ways that you can join us to help keep beaches and the ocean free of debris.

  1. Join a global movement to keep beaches, waterways and the ocean trash free. Head out to your favorite beach and use Ocean Conservancy’s brand-new app to easily record each item of trash you collect. Then share your effort with family and friends.
  2. Sign up to cleanup this September! For nearly three decades, volunteers with Ocean Conservancy’s International Coastal Cleanup® have picked up everything imaginable along the world’s shorelines: cigarette butts, food wrappers, abandoned fishing gear and even automobiles and kitchen appliances. Join us this September!

I applaud the San Francisco County Board of Supervisors for taking bold action to stem the tide of foam polluting our beaches and waterways. And, I applaud the many volunteers who come out daily, weekly or yearly to keep our beaches trash free. I hope to see you at a Cleanup in the near future!

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Every Piece, Every Person, Every Community: Building on 30 Years of the International Coastal Cleanup http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2015/09/16/every-piece-every-person-every-community-building-on-30-years-of-the-international-coastal-cleanup/ http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2015/09/16/every-piece-every-person-every-community-building-on-30-years-of-the-international-coastal-cleanup/#comments Wed, 16 Sep 2015 12:41:16 +0000 Sarah Kollar http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/?p=10747

Back in 1986, Linda Maraniss moved to Texas from Washington, DC, where she had been working for Ocean Conservancy (then called the Center for Environmental Education). She had been deeply impressed by the work her Ocean Conservancy colleague Kathy O’Hara was doing on a groundbreaking report called Plastics in the Ocean: More than a Litter Problem that would be published the next year.

When Linda discovered a Texas beach covered with huge amounts of things like plastic containers and old rope, she knew this trash posed a serious threat to wildlife and ecosystems. And she felt compelled to take action.

Linda and Kathy reached out to the Texas General Land Office and other dedicated ocean-lovers, and planned what would become the first official Cleanup. They asked volunteers to go beyond picking up trash and record each item collected on a standardized data card in order to identify ways to eliminate ocean trash in the future.

The Cleanup has grown immensely in the 30 years since Linda and Kathy’s first Cleanup. It has become the perfect illustration of what can be accomplished when people come together around a common goal. Renee Tuggle, Texas State Coordinator for the International Coastal Cleanup, has been involved since the very first beginning.

“What I have learned from the Cleanup experience,” Renee said, “is that even though the Cleanup started in Texas with a small number of 2,800 volunteers… it has grown into a massive cleanup that involves both national and international volunteers all pitching in for the same common goal of cleaning up our coastal waters and taking care of our beaches. I am proud to be a part of this global movement and I appreciate all of the help and support I get from the Ocean Conservancy staff.”

Other volunteers talked about the impacts they’ve seen the Cleanup have on the community. “It has been very rewarding being able to see throughout my 13 years how people have become more environmentally aware,” said Mexico coordinator Alejandra López. “We can sense this by increasing the number of volunteers at our International Coastal Cleanup every year. Also, local authorities have taken more responsibility in locations like Playa Miramar and Laguna del Carpintero.”

Renee and Alejandra’s remarks are great reminders of just a handful of the valuable lessons we’ve learned since the Cleanup’s beginning. Most of all, we’ve learned that there’s a powerful community of volunteers who love the ocean as much as we do.  Don’t forget to sign up and get involved in the 30th International Coastal Cleanup.

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Join Us for the 30th Annual International Coastal Cleanup http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2015/08/28/join-us-for-the-30th-annual-international-coastal-cleanup/ http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2015/08/28/join-us-for-the-30th-annual-international-coastal-cleanup/#comments Fri, 28 Aug 2015 12:57:51 +0000 Michelle Frey http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/?p=10687

The 30th Anniversary of the International Coastal Cleanup is almost here! Help Ocean Conservancy to keep our beaches and waterways clean. Please join us at a cleanup near you.

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Trashing Paradise: The Case of the Philippines http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2015/02/16/trashing-paradise-the-case-of-the-philippines/ http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2015/02/16/trashing-paradise-the-case-of-the-philippines/#comments Mon, 16 Feb 2015 13:00:42 +0000 Guest Blogger http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/?p=9864

A guest blog by Andrew Wynne

An island archipelago nation laying in the western Pacific Ocean, the Philippines is commonly known for its idyllic beaches, rugged volcanic interior, routine natural disasters, and amicable people. But perhaps less known is the battle against solid waste that is currently enveloping the country. I spent two and a half years on the front lines of this battle as a U.S. Peace Corps volunteer and can attest to what a study published just last week in the respected journal Science found; the Philippines, along with a small number of other developing countries, is a major vector for plastics and other debris flowing into the global ocean.

With the vast majority of the population and economy tied to the coastline, managing solid waste is exasperating already stressed resources and forcing individuals into economically inefficient ways of making a living that strain the coastal environment. In addition, the Philippines’ location in the western Pacific Ocean likely leads to the transportation of waste around the globe, thereby affecting everyone from local barangays to American coastal cities.

The fundamental issue is how to solve this large and growing problem on land, and in doing so, protect the ocean from the harm that debris causes. The Philippine government has adopted a number of laws needed to help mitigate solid waste.  The problem is these laws and product bans don’t work well if community members don’t understand the consequences of their actions or know why these policies were designed. This lack of awareness about solid waste and its effects on local waterways and the ocean is ultimately crippling the Philippines’ national process to confront the problem. To stem it nationwide, a concerted effort is needed from the ground-up, one that actively involves community members in the discussion.

I recently returned from Tabaco City, Albay, a port city in Southern Luzon facing the Pacific, where I was a U.S. Peace Corps volunteer working on coastal resource management. After seeking input from local leaders and experts, I worked with Bicol University Tabaco Campus (BUTC) and Dean Plutomeo Nieves to develop and launch the Save the Rivers, Save the Sea Program.

Begun in January 2014, this three-year program has been using a participatory, community-based approach to address solid waste management, improve river water and habitat sustainability, and thereby protect our ocean. Local students and youth representatives are both the facilitators and target audience; the program seeks to empower them to initiate action, repair existing degradation, and be leaders in sustaining their local ecosystems for future generations.

Thus far, 36 BUTC students have facilitated a community needs assessment amongst almost 300 local households. The students interviewed residents and sought information related to solid waste management practices, community involvement, and river usage. River water quality testing and cleanup events are ongoing, and future program activities will include educational campaigns to inform and educate the community and the establishment of a Bantay Ilog, or “river watch team.”  With this groundwork in place, the Save the Rivers, Save the Sea Program hopes to facilitate the co-management efforts needed for future urban river sustainability and solid waste management in Tabaco City.

With proactive national and provincial policies, local awareness and activism, and financial resources to build a foundation of leadership, we can take the next step in stemming the flow of debris in the rivers and coastal environment of the Philippines.  This will be one small step in solving the global problem of plastics pollution in the ocean identified last week in Science. While it is troubling that the scientists found that the Philippines is a major source of ocean trash, efforts such as the Save the Rivers, Save the Sea Program can be a model for how other local communities can contribute to a global effort to protect the oceans from the threat of land-based debris.

About Andrew Wynne

Andrew Wynne is a graduate student in Environmental Studies at the University of Charleston, South Carolina and a Returned Peace Corps Volunteer. He served in the Philippines (2012-2014) as a Coastal Resource Management Advisor, and hopes to continue to educate and inspire others to create healthy coastal environments. A SCUBA diver and former college athlete, Andrew lives an active lifestyle fueled by travel and exploration, but never strays too far from the water.

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International Coastal Cleanup Day 2014 http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2014/09/30/international-coastal-cleanup-day-2014/ http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2014/09/30/international-coastal-cleanup-day-2014/#comments Tue, 30 Sep 2014 16:58:13 +0000 Michelle Frey http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/?p=9293 Every year, hundreds of thousands of volunteers all around the world remove trash from their local beaches and shorelines for the International Coastal Cleanup. View some of the photos we collected from the 2014 Cleanup.

Photo: Jackie Yeary/Ocean Conservancy Photo: Jackie Yeary/Ocean Conservancy Photo: Jackie Yeary/Ocean Conservancy Photo: Jackie Yeary/Ocean Conservancy Photo: Elyse Butler Mallams/Ocean Conservancy Photo: Elyse Butler Mallams/Ocean Conservancy Photo: Jackie Yeary/Ocean Conservancy costas 014 ]]>
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My Labor of Love http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2014/05/21/my-labor-of-love/ http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2014/05/21/my-labor-of-love/#comments Wed, 21 May 2014 13:30:41 +0000 Guest Blogger http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/?p=8307

Colleen Rankin is a debris cleanup veteran. She lives in Blue Fox Bay, Alaska. Colleen regularly hauls debris from miles away back to her home, where she re-uses whatever she can and stores the rest for eventual disposal.

I am fortunate to live in one of the most remote locations on Earth. I have one seasonal neighbor 5 miles away and another family 25 miles from there. The closest town is 40 miles from us. All of us live on different islands separated by the powerful waters of the Gulf of Alaska. To live here is to witness the rhythm of the interdependent cycles of life on these beaches  ̶  the sea depositing kelp and seashells on the shorelines, creating what I call the line of life. We see bears, birds and other animals foraging in them. We call it the ocean’s gift of nutrition.  I have felt a part of an ancient world. But that is changing. And even here on the coast of Alaska, I’m surrounded every day by reminders of people from far away places.

That’s because the beaches near my home are literally covered in plastic, trash and netting. I take my skiff out and fill it with debris, stopping only because the boat is full to capacity. The beaches are accumulating trash at an alarming rate, and I am giving back to this beautiful place that has enriched my life so much in the most obvious way I can. And that is cleaning the beaches, sometimes the same beach over and over.

I separate the debris so that records can be kept to find out what the trash consists of. The largest growing category is plastic. Almost every piece of plastic debris I find that can fit in a bear’s mouth has bite marks on it – the bears and other animals are fascinated with plastic, and they chew it.

Every time I see a plastic bottle lying on the beautiful beach, I wonder how many of these one-use items do we use in a year? It’s a real chance for us to look at our lives as a species and ask, “What are we gaining by their use? Is it to save time? And are we actually improving our lives with that time we think we are saving?”

That’s why I think it’s so important that you and I pledge to reduce our use of plastic every day.

I used to feel like it was impossible to conquer all of this plastic and trash in the ocean, but now I’m amazed by what I’ve seen happen in the last year with the increase in awareness and the motivation of people like you to reduce the amount of plastic you use every day.

I know now that I’m not alone. Last year, 648,015 people like you volunteered at International Coastal Clean-up events across the country, and cleaned 12,329,332 pounds off of 12,910 miles of coast.

Ocean Conservancy has just released its latest Data Report, and you’d be surprised by what they’ve found! Items like straws, bottle caps and plastic bags are among the items you’ll find in the Top 10 List, and they’re all things that you and I can reduce.

I hope you’ll join me in the fight to prevent plastic pollution in our ocean. I know firsthand that every one of us can make a difference – from my home in Alaska to your town.

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What Does 10 Million Pounds of Trash Look Like? http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2013/05/14/what-does-10-million-pounds-of-trash-look-like/ http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2013/05/14/what-does-10-million-pounds-of-trash-look-like/#comments Tue, 14 May 2013 13:00:33 +0000 Nick Mallos http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/?p=5786

Volunteers mark the data card while throwing away trash at the International Coastal Cleanup at James Campbell National Wildlife Refuge in Kahuku, Hawaii. credit — Elyse Butler

Take your pick: 41 blue whales, 10 Boeing 747 jumbo jets, 5,000 tons or 10 million pounds. Whichever one you prefer, that’s roughly the weight of trash that was collected by volunteers during Ocean Conservancy’s 2012 International Coastal Cleanup (Cleanup). More than 10 million pounds of trash – that’s an astounding amount.

Each year in September, citizen scientists around the world mobilize during the Cleanup to remove plastic trash and other debris from the world’s shorelines, waterways and underwater habitats. Tallies of trash recorded by the more than 550,000 volunteers who participated in the 2012 Cleanup are a snapshot of the persistent and proliferating problem of trash on our beaches and in our ocean.

The most commonly found items of trash plaguing our coastlines are the same products we use in our everyday lives and households: food wrappers, plastic utensils, beverage containers and, as always, the most incessant item were cigarettes with more than two million butts collected. Much like cigarettes, plastics bags have always been atop the list of trash items, and in 2012 they were still unable to elude volunteers. The one million plus (1,019,902) plastic bags picked up were the fourth most abundant item of trash found, bringing the 27 year total to just under 10 million bags. The amount of oil required to manufacture this quantity of bags is in excess of 1,175 barrels, or enough gasoline to drive a car around the Earth three times (approx. 75,000 miles).

The items volunteers find on the beach are not only unnatural to the ocean, but are dangerous to marine organisms that depend on healthy ecosystems. And whether it’s the smallest bottle cap or the weirdest finds, like the 117 mattresses collected, every piece of trash affects the health of our ocean, and subsequently our economy, environment and health.

Every piece of trash that is picked up during the Cleanup should be a challenge for change. Trash simply shouldn’t be in the ocean or on a beach. The items we use – or don’t use – have a lasting impact. Trash doesn’t start and stop at the trash can, and out of sight doesn’t mean out of our ocean. For too long we’ve focused our attention on plastics and other debris by looking at the beach and seaward, when in reality, emphasis should’ve been concentrated between the beach, trash can and beyond.

We have a responsibility all year long to reduce, remove and reinvent – we all have a role to play. The good news is that everyone can be a part of the solution for trash free seas. Here are three things you can do right now to help tackle trash:

  1. Pledge to fight trash: What would happen if 10,000 people decided not to make as much trash for one month? We could reduce the trash on Earth by over 1 million pounds. Take the pledge to help turn the tide on trash.
  2. Download Rippl Ocean Conservancy’s free mobile application that helps you make simple, sustainable lifestyle choices.
  3. Mark your calendar for September 21 so that you can be part of the next International Coastal Cleanup.

Solutions are built on individual actions of people, organizations and companies, but it will take a collective movement to make a lasting difference. Whether it’s by changing our habits to create less trash, pushing industries and governments to find alternative uses or funding innovative scientific research, the time is now for everyone to work together to find a solution to make our beaches and seas trash free.

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