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Ocean Currents

News, opinions, photos and facts from Ocean Conservancy



“Midway” Film Answers Plastic Pollution Question “Why Care?”

Posted On September 12, 2013 by

albatross chick

Photo: still from Chris Jordan’s “Midway”

Midway Atoll is truly “out there.” The closet population center is Honolulu, 1,200 miles to the southeast and a five-hour trip by plane. But despite its remoteness, Midway is not immune to the impacts of plastic debris.

Midway’s central position in the North Pacific Gyre makes it a sink for debris, which results in immense, daily accumulations on the island’s sandy beaches. This collection of debris—almost entirely plastics—threatens the endangered monk seals and sea turtles that inhabit Midway’s beaches and forage in the atoll’s shallow waters. Plastics that threaten the 1.5 million Laysan albatross on Midway, however, arrive in a different manner.

Continue reading »


VIDEO: Immense Plastics, Many Perspectives, One Solution

Posted On September 3, 2013 by

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.

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This Week’s Top Tweets: February 16 – 22

Posted On February 22, 2013 by

We all know that the ocean is one of our original visions of beauty, and the top tweets of this week certainly lend some good reminders of that. From the majestic creatures that rule the ocean ecosystem, to the small animals that make up a colorful underwater community and to the small child that utilizes the power of the ocean to overcome difficult obstacles, we can see why the ocean is hugely important in so many different ways. And for good measure, we’ve also got a tweet that shows how badly our consumption of plastic harms one of the most coveted aspects of our planet. With quite the well-rounded week to look back on, let’s dive right in with number one:

1. An Oceanic Escape

Our most popular tweet of the week was one that illustrates how big of an impact the ocean can have on our lives. A young boy with cerebral palsy named Alex surfs regularly to help strengthen his muscles. The Orange County Register article quoted Alex’s father as saying that when he is in the water, “he’s just totally happy, he never wants to get out. It doesn’t matter how cold it is, how windy it is, how sloppy it is. For some reason, there’s this gravitation to the water.” While a specific example, the description of Alex’s affinity for being in the ocean speaks to many of our own personal experiences with and feelings toward the ocean.

2. Trash Talking with a Pro

This tweet was about pro surfer Mary Osborne‘s experience at the South Atlantic garbage patch. Osborne says that “it’s hard to go back and actually explain to people what we saw…The only way I can really describe it is this plastic soup, this confetti-like soup.” While seeing may be the most tangible way of believing the damage plastics have done to our oceans, she suggests that changes can be made in individual consumer behavior, in terms of purchasing power and recycling. We couldn’t agree more! In fact, we created our mobile app, Rippl, in order to help you make small choices and changes in your daily lifestyle to better the ocean’s health.

3. The Live Humpback Hunt

Our third top tweet links to a video of a humpback whale’s hunt for food, courtesy of the National Geographic “critter cam” team. Cool view, eh?

4. Are Your Shark Senses Tingling?

If you weren’t excited about this tweet, you probably just don’t have a pulse. The video and photo progressions of shark conservationist Ocean Ramsey’s peaceful swim with a great white shark had us on the edge of our seats. Well actually, it wasn’t just a swim, but more of an underwater piggyback ride; Ramsey first maintained a calm composure as to not frighten the shark, then eventually grabbed its dorsal fin and went for a short ride. Amazing!

5. Baja Beauty

Our last on the list of top tweets for the week is a video made by Erick Higuera that showcases the beauty which can be found in the ocean. In the video’s description, Higuera says that “the gruesome and cruel destruction of these creatures is unnecessary, tragic and extremely alarming. It is imperative to act quickly to protect marine species populations that still prevail before it’s too late.” Indeed, our last tweet this week is another shining reminder of why we all need to continue the fight for a healthy ocean.

Be sure to follow us on Twitter at @OurOcean so that you can get all your ocean-related news as it happens, along with funny and interesting ocean-based content. Until next time, have a great weekend!


Are We Building Plastic Beaches?

Posted On August 14, 2012 by

Credit: Sustainable Coastlines flickr stream

13 billion. That’s the number of tiny, pre-production plastic pellets—often referred to as “nurdles”—that remain afloat in the waters off Hong Kong. Six 40-foot containers filled with these plastic pellets were lost off a shipping vessel when it was caught by hurricane-force winds and heavy seas during last month’s Typhoon Vicente. Exactly how much plastic did these containers contain? Each container carried at least 25,000 kilograms of plastic pellets, meaning approximately 150 tons—or 300,000 lbs.—of plastic were sent overboard during the storm. Keeping in mind that plastic is an extremely lightweight material, this number is roughly equal to the weight of two Boeing-737 aircraft.

Since the spill, large quantities of the pellets and the bags have been appearing on beaches and coastlines all over Hong Kong. Ecovision, the International Coastal Cleanup Coordinator for Hong Kong, is taking a role by joining hands with a number of committed local conservation groups and government departments to initiate the Hong Kong Plastic Pellet Patrol. The Patrol divided Hong Kong into different Cleanup sectors and assigned participating NGOs areas of responsibility. Through their combined efforts, they have succeeded in removing an estimated 71 tons of the plastic from the sea and coastlines; but again, up to 13 billion pellets remain unaccounted for off the Hong Kong coast. Continue reading »

Even in the Ocean, Every Rose Has Its Thorn

Posted On June 8, 2012 by

Debris found during cleanup near Yokohama, Japan

Debris collected from Transect #1 at Sea Paradise Beach -- Nick Mallos

Mawar is the Malaysian word for rose, but Typhoon Mawar has been nothing but a thorn since we arrived in Yokohama, Japan. Like hurricanes, typhoons form when tropical depressions escalate into cyclones; in the Pacific, these cyclones are called typhoons, while in the Atlantic they are known as hurricanes.

This past weekend, Mawar delivered heavy rain and sustained winds of 110 mph to the Philippines, gusting up to 130 mph and taking the lives of eight Filipinos. We felt peripheral effects of Mawar in Japan as intensifying winds and strong gusts jostled boats and tested the strength of dock lines in the marina.

So far, Mawar has delayed our departure on the Algalita/5 Gyres Japan Tsunami Debris Expedition by almost one week. To say anticipation and angst on board has been high would be an understatement. However, we have not allowed our time on land to be wasted. Continue reading »

Follow Me on a Journey to the Center of the Ocean

Posted On May 29, 2012 by

Nick Mallos

Nick Mallos

I’ve been in Japan for a week now, witnessing firsthand the devastation caused by the tsunami 15 months ago and helping with ongoing cleanup efforts as much as I can. At the end of the week, I set sail on the Algalita/5 Gyres Japanese Tsunami Expedition that will take me out to the middle of the Pacific Ocean in search of tsunami debris that was washed out to sea.

National Geographic has asked me to share updates about the expedition on their News Watch blog, so I posted my first entry while still on dry land.

Here’s an excerpt: Continue reading »