Ocean Currents » plastic http://blog.oceanconservancy.org News, opinions, photos and facts from Ocean Conservancy Fri, 21 Apr 2017 20:52:17 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.4.2 Meet Chloe: Teen Advocate for our Ocean http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2016/10/07/meet-chloe-teen-advocate-for-our-ocean/ http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2016/10/07/meet-chloe-teen-advocate-for-our-ocean/#comments Fri, 07 Oct 2016 13:00:04 +0000 Guest Blogger http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/?p=13053  

by Nelle Crossan

Meet Chloe—a 14 year old from Colorado, working to bring awareness and advocate for the ocean by encouraging other teens to get involved in their local communities!

Ocean Conservancy: When did you first find your passion for the ocean?

Chloe: Every year we would visit my great grandmother in Florida and I always found the ocean both calming and empowering. The ocean is so unique—we still don’t know exactly what is out there. I remember finding butterfly shells (coquina clams) on the beach and picking up starfish and throwing them back to sea. Also, my grandparents, Carol and Michael Altman have always encouraged my love of the ocean and are donors to OC! I have continued to love the ocean even though I live in Colorado. I am part of a club at school that works with the organizationTeens4Oceans, which has been a great way to learn more about ocean health and what teens can be doing to advocate, protect and preserve it.

Ocean Conservancy: Teens4Oceans sounds like an awesome organization! Tell us more about your involvement.

Chloe: I knew I wanted to learn more about the ocean and give back, so I started researching organizations with my mom. We heard about Teens4Oceans and two friends of mine approached me about starting a club at our school. We were able to have someone come out and visit my school with a mobile lab from Teens4Oceans, and it was so cool. We got to do different experiments that showed the effects of coral bleaching. We learned more about the plastic gyres in the Pacific Ocean, endangered fish species and how our actions affect the ocean, even from a landlocked state like Colorado.  As a club we also held bake sales and raised enough money for two water bottle refilling stations in our middle school!

Ocean Conservancy: Wow! What a great way to bring the ocean to teens! In your opinion, what do you think teens could be doing in their daily lives to make an impact on ocean issues?

Chloe: If teens and kids my age are really passionate there is so much they can do! Teens can create groups that meet monthly, go to coastal clean ups, or go online and learn more about ocean issues. Other ideas are having bake sales with informational handouts about the ocean and using reusable water bottles so not as much plastic ends up in the water. I think the biggest problem for people our age is that we don’t know what our impact is on the ocean and I want to make sure teens are informed about their actions.

Ocean Conservancy: Thank you so much, Chloe for all of your work to engage teens on this issue and for being a supporter of our work. We need more teens like you!

Nelle Crossan is the Individual Giving Specialist at Ocean Conservancy, based in Washington, DC. Nelle grew up on the north shore of Massachusetts and spent her summers at the beach, soaking up all the ocean has to offer. When she’s not advocating for ocean health you can find her singing, watercolor painting or swimming. Follow her @nellecrossan.

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Meet Keila: A 5th Grader with a Passion for the Ocean http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2016/09/27/meet-keila-a-5th-grader-with-a-passion-for-the-ocean/ http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2016/09/27/meet-keila-a-5th-grader-with-a-passion-for-the-ocean/#comments Tue, 27 Sep 2016 13:42:48 +0000 Guest Blogger http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/?p=12991

By Megan Swanson

Keila reached out to Ocean Conservancy concerned about the pollution plaguing our ocean and eager to make a difference. Growing up alongside the Pacific Ocean, she developed a deep respect for the ocean and its inhabitants from an early age and considers it as part of her home. After learning more about the problem of ocean trash in one of her classes, she decided to take action. This summer, she delivered cookies and talked with friends and family to bring awareness to the issue while raising money for Ocean Conservancy. Keila also participated in the 31st annual International Coastal Cleanup on September 17th at her local beach in California. I had the privilege to talk to Keila about why she loves the ocean and what drove her to do this work.

Ocean Conservancy:  What’s your favorite sea creature?

Keila: Some of my favorite animals are sea turtles, dolphins and sea lions because they are cute and graceful animals. I visited the Bahamas this summer and I got to swim with dolphins and sea lions and that just made me love them even more.

OC: What’s your favorite way to spend time in the ocean?

Keila: I love to enjoy the ocean by walking in the waves as they as they come up onto the sand and to watch pods of dolphins and whales as they swim by, whenever I can.

OC: How did you become aware of the problem of trash entering our waterways and negatively affecting ocean health and wildlife?

Keila: In my fourth grade class, my teacher read us information on fifty ways to heal the earth. She read us an article on ways that human trash hurts sea animals. Also, I remember my Grandma and I were traveling to Hawaii and I looked out the window of the airplane and saw a lot of debris floating in the ocean and it really bothered me.

OC: What inspired you to raise money for Ocean Conservancy?

Keila: I chose Ocean Conservancy because it not only helps the ocean but it helps the animals in the ocean and both are close to my heart.

OC: What do you do in your everyday life to prevent marine debris?

Keila:  If I see the plastic rings that carry soda cans, I will bring them home and cut the rings and then recycle them. And when I see trash wash up on the beach, I throw it away.

Through Keila’s hard work this summer, she raised $1,300 to support Ocean Conservancy’s fight for a healthier, more sustainable ocean. From all of us here at Ocean Conservancy, thank you Keila for your dedication to keeping our ocean trash-free!

Megan Swanson is a Trash Free Seas intern at Ocean Conservancy. 

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Thanks for a Fantastic International Coastal Cleanup! http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2016/09/20/thanks-for-a-fantastic-international-coastal-cleanup/ http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2016/09/20/thanks-for-a-fantastic-international-coastal-cleanup/#comments Tue, 20 Sep 2016 13:00:37 +0000 Allison Schutes http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/?p=12890

Thank YOU! This weekend, we wrapped up another spectacular International Coastal Cleanup. Thank you so much to all of our volunteers and supporters who came out to make a difference for our ocean.

Hundreds of thousands of people turned out all over the world to clean up their local beaches and waterways.

Thank you again to everyone who participated in the International Coastal Cleanup. I am so grateful to have allies like you joining me in the fight against marine debris. While beach cleanups alone can’t solve the ocean trash problem, they are an integral piece to the overall solution.

From all of us at Ocean Conservancy – Thank You! See photos from International Coastal Cleanups below:

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Fight Back Against Marine Debris http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2016/08/18/fight-back-against-marine-debris/ http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2016/08/18/fight-back-against-marine-debris/#comments Thu, 18 Aug 2016 13:00:44 +0000 Guest Blogger http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/?p=12635

Written by Senator Cory Booker

Every 60 seconds, what amounts to roughly a garbage truck full of plastic makes its way into the ocean.  That means that over the next year about 8 million tons of plastic will enter the ocean, creating a massive amount of marine pollution.

It’s estimated that if we don’t do anything to address this source of pollution, there will be one pound of plastic for every three pounds of fish in the ocean by 2025.

Preventing further damage to our oceans will require a coordinated global effort, and the United States has a vital role to play in leading this charge.

Here at home, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, or NOAA, is responsible for the Marine Debris Program, which leads the government effort to address, research and prevent waste pollution in our oceans. But the congressional authorization for this program expired back in 2015, and it now faces uncertain prospects. What’s more, while marine debris is a global issue, current law doesn’t recognize the authority of the Marine Debris Program to work collaboratively with international partners. Empowering program staff to engage in international collaboration will allow the Marine Debris Program to share its expertise and further its impact here in the U.S. and around the world.

Recognizing the need for an updated law, I recently introduced the Marine Debris Act of 2016, a bill that if passed will extend the authorization of the Marine Debris Program until 2021. The bill also recognizes the authority of the program’s staff to work with a coalition of international partners, making it easier for the United States to help develop and lead a coordinated response to the global problem of marine debris.

Passing this bill won’t solve our global marine debris problem, but it will mark a renewed commitment by the United States to leading the effort to clean up our oceans.

When it comes to making our oceans cleaner and healthier, we don’t have a minute to waste.

Take Action: Join Senator Booker and show your support for the Marine Debris Act of 2016 today!

Cory Booker was elected to represent New Jersey in the United States Senate in 2013. 

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Taking on Plastic at the Met Gala http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2016/05/03/taking-on-plastic-at-the-met-gala/ http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2016/05/03/taking-on-plastic-at-the-met-gala/#comments Tue, 03 May 2016 19:54:46 +0000 Jackie Yeary http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/?p=12018

Photo: Emma Watson/Facebook

True confessions: I’m secretly a total Harry Potter nerd. Okay, maybe it’s not so secret… (#TeamHufflepuff anyone?) Which is why I did a literal happy dance in my living room when I saw Emma Watson’s gown for last night’s Met Gala.

Her look, designed by Calvin Klein with help from Eco-Age, incorporated recycled plastics into the body of the gown.  “Plastic is one of the biggest pollutants on the planet,” said Watson on Facebook. “Being able to repurpose this waste and incorporate it into my gown for the #MetGala proves the power that creativity, technology and fashion can have by working together.”

Emma’s point about the power of creativity is an important reminder. There are a lot of problems—big problems—facing our planet, and it’s going to require ingenuity and innovation to solve them. And if finding a sustainable way to create red carpet fashion brings more people to the table, then I say, “The more the merrier!”

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What Do We Actually Know About the Ecological Impacts of Marine Debris? http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2016/03/31/what-do-we-actually-know-about-the-ecological-impacts-of-marine-debris/ http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2016/03/31/what-do-we-actually-know-about-the-ecological-impacts-of-marine-debris/#comments Thu, 31 Mar 2016 13:00:26 +0000 Guest Blogger http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/?p=11795

The following is a guest blog from Dr. Chelsea Rochman, who is currently serving as a Smith Postdoctoral Fellow in Conservation Biology.

For decades, we have heard concerns regarding the entanglement of marine mammals and sea turtles in marine debris. We see images of seabirds, turtles and whales washing up with bellies full of trash. And more recently, we see constant media attention on microplastics—small pieces of plastic debris less than five millimeters in size. Marine debris is everywhere. It is reported from the poles to the equator and from the surface to the seafloor. It has been recorded in tens of thousands of individual animals encompassing nearly 600 species.

With such vast and abundant contamination, comes a perception that marine debris is a large threat to the ecology of our ocean. As part of a working group at the National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis (NCEAS) facilitated by Ocean Conservancy and focused on marine debris, I worked with a group of scientists to ask if the weight of evidence demonstrating impacts matched the weight of this concern? The findings of our analysis have just been published.

The Weight of Evidence


“What do we actually know about the ecological impacts of marine debris?

To answer this question, we dove into the growing scientific literature and quantified perceptions regarding impact and evaluated whether individual studies had rigorously tested and demonstrated an effect.

Overall, we found hundreds of perceived impacts and substantial evidence of demonstrated impacts caused by marine debris. We showed that in almost every case where a perceived impact was properly tested, an impact was demonstrated. While we found most evidence at suborganismal levels, it is not a foregone conclusion that sublethal effects due to debris will result in an ecological impact. To be sure that such an ecological response exists, requires a heavier weight of evidence; i.e. more science!

Show Me the Data!

The majority of all impacts were caused by plastic items. For example, my own studies have demonstrated changes in gene expression related to endocrine disruption and stress in the livers of fish exposed to microplastic (Rochman et al., 2013 Sci Reports; Rochman et al., 2014 STOTEN). Still, evidence of demonstrated impacts above suborganismal levels remains extremely sparse, mainly demonstrating death to individual organisms. Causes of impact were mostly due to ingestion, followed by entanglement and smothering. The most common items reported to cause effects at the organism or assemblage levels were lost fishing gear and other items of plastic debris such as rope, bags, straws and degraded fragments. Interestingly, a recent study led by Ocean Conservancy and CSIRO determined that these same marine debris items are perceived to be among the most hazardous by experts in the field.

Perceived, tested and demonstrated impacts of debris. Rows in each matrix represent different levels of biological organization. Columns represent order-of-magnitude sizes of debris from smallest (left) to largest (right). Shading in the individual cells of the matrix represent the magnitude of a) perceived b) tested and c) demonstrated impacts of debris. White represents 0, light grey 1 – 5, grey 6 – 10, dark grey 11 – 20 and black > 21 impacts. Diamonds in matrix 2c correspond to cells where at least one impact has been demonstrated by correlative evidence. 

Although we conclude that the quantity and quality of research evaluating ecological impacts requires improvement for risk to ocean health to be determined with precision, scientists have generated a lot of evidence over the last several decades regarding widespread contamination and suborganismal impacts of marine debris. Thus, there is enough information for policy makers, non-governmental organizations and industry to work together, such as through the Trash Free Seas Alliance® to strategize ways to invoke positive change now while scientists continue to rigorously increase our understanding of the ecological consequences of debris on ocean health.

For more information, the entire article can be found here.

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We Can Solve the Ocean Plastic Problem http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2015/09/30/we-can-solve-the-ocean-plastic-problem/ http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2015/09/30/we-can-solve-the-ocean-plastic-problem/#comments Wed, 30 Sep 2015 23:24:41 +0000 Andreas Merkl http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/?p=10799

Today, Ocean Conservancy released a major report: Stemming the Tide: Land-based strategies for a plastic-free ocean. We think it’s a big deal. It squarely addresses one of our biggest worries: the avalanche of plastic that cascades into the ocean every year.

It’s getting really bad. Practically every kind of animal, from plankton to whales, is now contaminated by plastic. It’s in the birds, in the turtles, in the fish. At the current rate, we could have 1 ton of plastics for every 3 tons of fish by 2025.

This is nobody’s plan. It’s not the plan of the plastics industry, it’s not the plan of the consumer goods industry and it’s certainly not the plan for those of us who love and need the ocean. Nobody wants this.

The problem is born on land. Most of the plastic originates in rapidly industrializing countries whose waste management infrastructure is lagging behind. This is a typical phase of development that all countries go through. The problem is simply that the enormous utility of plastic, combined with the explosive economic growth of Asia and Africa, combine to yield an enormous flow of unmanaged plastic waste into the ocean.

This was originally posted on Huffington Post. To read the rest of this blog, please click here.

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