Ocean Currents » marine debris http://blog.oceanconservancy.org News, opinions, photos and facts from Ocean Conservancy Wed, 28 Jan 2015 13:00:26 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.4.2 (E)PS, We Don’t Love You http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2015/01/12/eps-we-dont-love-you/ http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2015/01/12/eps-we-dont-love-you/#comments Mon, 12 Jan 2015 18:11:08 +0000 Nick Mallos http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/?p=9685

New York City officially became the largest U.S. city to ban expanded polystyrene (EPS) foam last week! The momentum for EPS bans has been steadily increasing, and more than 70 cities have made the cut!

Frequently used for take-out containers, disposable drink cups and other single-use products, EPS is a hazard to our environment—not only because of its brittle nature and propensity to fragment into small pieces—but also because it can’t be recycled, economically. This is compounded by the fact that we use so much of it! Last year, the city of New York collected about 28,500 tons of polystyrene! (That’s a lot of take-out!)

After the announcement was made official, New York Mayor Bill de Blasio said, “These products cause real environmental harm and have no place in New York City.” Or the ocean, if you ask us!

Each year during Ocean Conservancy’s International Coastal Cleanup, volunteers pick up millions of EPS products and pieces. During the 2013 Cleanup alone, 1.2 million items made of EPS were removed from beaches and waterways!

New York City’s ban on polystyrene foam is a huge step for our ocean. Not only will it eliminate the possibility of harmful waste from entering our environment, it also sets the precedent for other cities to follow suit. Bans and taxes on single-use products, like EPS food and beverage packaging, are key steps in preventing trash from entering our ocean.

Mayor de Blasio stated “…today’s announcement is a major step towards our goal of a greener, greater New York City.” And on an island where all streets lead to the sea, the Big Apple’s decision to say farewell to foam will lead to a healthier and more resilient Hudson River, New York Harbor, and Atlantic Ocean.

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What’s Haunting Our Ocean? http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2014/10/27/whats-haunting-our-ocean/ http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2014/10/27/whats-haunting-our-ocean/#comments Mon, 27 Oct 2014 21:08:43 +0000 Allison Schutes http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/?p=9405

Photo: Ocean Conservancy

What’s haunting our ocean? Ghost crabs or witch flounder? What about devil rays or goblin sharks? Sure, there are tons of monsters and ghouls hidden beneath the waves, but like in any scary movie, the most dangerous villains may be the least obvious.

Let’s take cigarette butts for example. When you think of the ocean, they’re probably not the first thing or even among the top ten things you think of. Yet, they’re the most common specter we find on our beaches year after year. In 2013, volunteers collected over 2 million cigarette butts.

Food wrappers are other trolls lurking around our beaches. International Coastal Cleanup volunteers removed more than 1.6 million of them last year alone.

Plastic beverage bottles are also regular beach phantoms. In 2013, we found more than 940,000 plastic bottles on local beaches and shorelines. You can put them to rest by drinking out of a reusable water bottle.

Don’t think the litter caused by the 940,000 plastic bottles is the end of their terror. Volunteers found more than 847,000 bottle caps that were beheaded from their bottles still on the beach. This is even scarier because bottles without their caps can be doomed to sink to the bottom of the sea where they’ll spend all eternity.

If you wanted a scarecrow on the beach, you’d be able to build him just with the plastic straws you find there. More than 555,000 were found on beaches and shorelines last year. We don’t need sage to banish straws from the beach though. If you skipped the straw every time you were at a sit down restaurant, you can help remove their presence from your beach.

Plastic grocery bags are common ghosts on the beach with more than 440,000 exorcised by International Coastal Cleanup volunteers last year. Once they enter the ocean, they can trick sea turtles into thinking they’re jellyfish, the sea turtle’s favorite meal. Sea turtles who swallow plastic bags can suffer from digestive problems or even death.

Ghoulish glass beverage bottles are big problems for beaches. More than 394,00 were collected last year alone.

Plastic grocery bags aren’t the only plastic bags haunting the beach. We found more than 368,000 other kinds of plastic bags creeping their away along the shoreline.

If you’re walking the beach, there’s a good chance a paper bag maybe stalking you. Howling winds can blow paper bags from far off and onto shorelines. Try to use a trashcan with a lid when throwing away easily blown away items.

Hundreds of thousands of beverage cans prowl beaches all over the world.

The sea monsters of folklore or even sharks with rows and rows of serrated teeth can’t make us scream in fright like these 10 things haunting our ocean and endangering marine life. Good thing we all have the power to stop these ocean threats.

Below is a map that shows which monsters are most commonly found on US beaches:

Take a deeper look into the cauldron and see which monsters haunt your local beach:

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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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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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25,000 Ocean Lovers Accepted the Last Straw Challenge http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2014/09/06/25000-ocean-lovers-accepted-the-last-straw-challenge/ http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2014/09/06/25000-ocean-lovers-accepted-the-last-straw-challenge/#comments Sat, 06 Sep 2014 18:00:19 +0000 Nick Mallos http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/?p=9184

Photo: Samantha Reinders

We did it! We were able to get 25,000 ocean lovers to accept the Last Straw Challenge before the International Coastal Cleanup on September 20. This means we’re preventing 5 million plastic straws from ever ending up in our ocean or landfills.

That’s right — 5 million plastic straws. A small gesture like asking your waiter to hold the straw every time you’re at a sit down restaurant is a big help for marine wildlife. Endangered animals like sea turtles, albatross and seals are at especially high risk of the dangers of plastic pollution. They mistakenly consume pieces of plastic and are at risk of choking on them or damaging their digestive systems.

International Coastal Cleanup volunteers picked up more than 555,000 straws on our beaches and shorelines last year alone. With the average American eating out four times a week and almost always using a straw or two, the dinner table is a great place to start turning the tide on trash. With this kind of commitment, we’re that much closer to having trash free seas.

There’s still more we can do! The International Coastal Cleanup is on September 20. Sign up to clean up your local beach or shoreline today!

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Vote for Louisiana Cleanup Volunteer to Win Cox Conserves Heroes Award! http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2014/09/03/vote-for-louisiana-cleanup-volunteer-to-win-cox-conserves-heroes-award/ http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2014/09/03/vote-for-louisiana-cleanup-volunteer-to-win-cox-conserves-heroes-award/#comments Wed, 03 Sep 2014 13:20:24 +0000 Rachel Guillory http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/?p=9135

We are so excited that Benjamin Goliwas, a long-time volunteer who helps coordinate the International Coastal Cleanup in Louisiana, has been selected as a finalist for the Louisiana Cox Conserves Heroes Awards. Ben, who goes by “The Admiral,” has organized cleanups around Louisiana for years, and his hard work was crucial in cleaning up the storm debris from Lake Pontchartrain after Hurricane Katrina in 2004.

“After Hurricane Katrina, the things we pulled out of the water and removed from our shores were amazing,” said Ben. “Not just tires, but the whole car; refrigerators still full; dining room tables with the silverware; and just about everything anybody can think of. Every year since, we’ve found something equally unusual, including vessels and pieces of the dock. It’s very dangerous for boaters in the marina.”

In the New Orleans area, Lake Pontchartrain Basin Foundation plays a critical role in mobilizing volunteers, distributing supplies and collecting trash and data cards—not to mention organizing a big party on the lakefront afterward! Thanks to their dedication, thousands of Louisiana residents come together as a community every year to prevent trash from reaching the Gulf, where it poses a threat to marine wildlife and habitats, local economies and even human health.

The 2014 International Coastal Cleanup will be held on Saturday, September 20. Every year, nearly 650,000 volunteers around the world clean trash from beaches, lakes, rivers, streams and other waterways in more than 90 countries. Find a cleanup near you and join us on September 20!

Don’t forget to vote for Ben for the Cox Conserves Heroes Award. The winner receives $10,000 to donate to the nonprofit of their choice!

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You’re Invited http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2014/08/25/youre-invited/ http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2014/08/25/youre-invited/#comments Mon, 25 Aug 2014 13:49:07 +0000 Nick Mallos http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/?p=9085

 

It’s time to make a difference!

On Saturday, September 20th, Ocean Conservancy is hosting the International Coastal Cleanup. Volunteers around the world are gathering to remove trash from their beaches and waterways. And you’re invited!

The Cleanup is so important for a healthy ocean. Last year, volunteers collected a record-breaking 13.6 million items of trash. With your help, we can collect even more.

But having more trash on our beaches to pick up is not a thing to celebrate. The sad truth is that our beaches and waterways are polluted and littered with trash. This summer as millions of Americans head to the beach, they’ll encounter plastic bottle caps, straws, cigarette butts and more.

That’s why we need to work together to stop the flow of trash before it has a chance to reach the water to choke and entangle dolphins, endanger sea turtles, ruin our beaches, and depress our local economies.

Tell us you’ll join us at this year’s International Coastal Clean Up.

Once you’ve registered, you’ll be directed to our Cleanup map, where you can find the details for a cleanup near you.

I can’t wait to see you at the International Coastal Cleanup this September!

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