Ocean Currents » tips http://blog.oceanconservancy.org News, opinions, photos and facts from Ocean Conservancy Fri, 21 Oct 2016 18:12:45 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.4.2 Photographer Joshua Cripps Shares His Tips for Capturing the Ocean on Film http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2013/07/26/photography-tips-joshua-cripps/ http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2013/07/26/photography-tips-joshua-cripps/#comments Fri, 26 Jul 2013 23:15:59 +0000 Lauren Malkani http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/?p=6288 photographer capturing the ocean

Credit: Juan Ramon Rodriguez Sosa via Flickr

Photographer Joshua Cripps, winner of Ocean Conservancy’s 2012 Marine Life and Seascape Photo Contest, explains why the ocean makes for dynamic images, how to take better photos and why photography can help save the planet:

What attracted you to photography?

After college, I did a lot of traveling, and my experiences as I journeyed from country to country opened up my eyes to the incredible beauty and magic in the world. But my ability to convey my sense of awe and wonder to my friends and family back home was sadly lacking, and I began to yearn for a better way to share the world as I saw it.

Thus the seed of photography was planted. But it wasn’t until a year or so later, when I got my first digital single-lens reflex (DSLR) camera, that the seed began to sprout. After that, all hope was lost: like a rampant vine, my love of photography grew and grew until it pretty much took over my life.

What do you value most in a photo?

What I value most in a photo is a good story, especially a story of a place I haven’t seen or heard of before. When I see a photo, I want to feel compelled to find out more about what’s happening in the image, where it was taken, how it came to be and what it makes me think about. A good photo should provoke something in the viewer.

What tips do you have for budding photographers?

  • Take a lot of photos. Shoot until you can’t shoot anymore, and then shoot more. Shoot anything and everything that catches your fancy, but always ask yourself why you are taking that photo.
  • Find photos you love. Then figure out why you love them. What are the technical, compositional and processing techniques the photographer used to get you to feel the way you do? Break them down piece-by-piece and figure out why they work.
  • Find photos you don’t like. Then figure out why. Where is the photographer failing? Why don’t these photos work? Join critique groups and ask other photographers to offer you suggestions.
  • Take as many workshops as you can afford. There is no single better or faster way to become a better photographer than by learning from photographers who are more experienced and can help steer you in the right direction for your art.

What attracts you to the ocean as a photographic subject?

Simply put, the ocean is the most dynamic landscape I can think of. It changes from month to month, day to day and even second to second. I’ve been to beaches where within a single 24-hour period, hundreds of tons of sand have been scooped from one end of the beach and deposited on the other, exposing certain rocks and burying others.

When shooting waves, a mere half-second pause between photos can create images of startling difference. The ocean is a place where all aspects of photography come together to create some of the most fun and dynamic image-making I’ve experienced.

Do you think photography can help raise awareness about ocean issues?

Absolutely. There’s no other form of media that has the instantaneous impact of a photo. A photo can be taken in at a glance but can tell a story with a richness and eloquence that words can’t match. Photos help people understand our planet and our ocean and the state they’re in.

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Innovation at the Miami Boat Show http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2013/02/18/innovation-at-the-miami-boat-show/ http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2013/02/18/innovation-at-the-miami-boat-show/#comments Mon, 18 Feb 2013 16:10:41 +0000 TJ Marshall http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/?p=4690  

Being a waterman who has owned boats ranging from catamarans to skiffs throughout my life, I always look forward to the Miami Boat Show — a premier event each year for those of us who love the salt life.   Thanks to the generosity of the National Marine Manufacturers Association (NMMA), Ocean Conservancy was granted a complimentary booth at the show to share our GoodMate “Charting a Course to Clean Water” program made possible by the Brunswick Foundation.

It was inspiring to see the advancements and mindset of the boating and salt life community toward conservation  on display throughout the show.

I particularly enjoyed meeting Al Baurley, President of Arid Dry Bilge Systems, and a native of my old haunt of Pompano Beach.  Al has created an ingenious system that filters engine fluids from a boat’s bilge water,  reducing hydrocarbon traces to 1 part per million(ppm), well below the 15ppm government standard.

Cutting edge technologies were on display as well and NMMA deserves credit with their “Innovation Awards” competition.  Torqeedo of Starnbeerg Germany was the 2013 winner with their new “Deep Blue” high powered, all-electric outboard engine.   As a fisherman who has to power almost 20 miles offshore to reach fishing grounds, the idea of saving fuel appeals to me.  As a conservationist, it’s inspiring to see a vessel that doesn’t have the same footprint as a traditional gas-powered boat on the  delicate resources of the marine environment.

Just as impressive was Lehrs propane powered outboard motor and the recycled plastic Global Dock.  Lehr received the EPA Clean Air Excellence Award for their technology and I’m glad to see the trend toward alternative fuels that are safer for the marine environment in case of accidental spillage.  Global Dock is another positive trend — complete marina designs utilizing floating dock made entirely of recycled material.

It was a ton of fun to tour the show, greet Ocean Conservancy members, cross paths with Alberto Ruiz the  International Coastal Clean Up Coordinator from Puerto Rico, get thumbs up and waves from folks concerned for our oceans and the sincere thanks many gave for what the Ocean Conservancy team does for the big blue.


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High-flying Balloons Pose a Definite Downside for Ocean Wildlife http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2012/08/29/high-flying-balloons-pose-a-definite-downside-for-ocean-wildlife/ http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2012/08/29/high-flying-balloons-pose-a-definite-downside-for-ocean-wildlife/#comments Wed, 29 Aug 2012 16:24:11 +0000 Catherine Fox http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/?p=2499

Balloons that soar eventually fall, with serious impacts for wildlife.
Credit: Jerry Downs flickr stream

What’s more joyful than the sight of colorful balloons soaring up into the blue sky? People release festive bunches of them for lots of reasons, including to

  • celebrate birthdays, weddings and anniversaries
  • commemorate the passing of a loved one
  • inspire excitement at sporting events
  • announce the opening of a business or a super sales event

And sometimes they simply escape our grasp and go skyward.

What goes up must come down
Alas, balloons eventually fall back to Earth. That’s when the dark side of their existence begins. When balloons and their ribbons or strings fall or blow into the ocean and waterways, wildlife can suffer and die.

“Like many other forms of synthetic debris, balloons can resemble prey and pose a threat to all kinds  of marine organisms around the world, many of which are threatened or endangered,” says Ocean Conservancy Marine Debris Specialist Nicholas Mallos.

Trash in the water, including balloons, affects more than 260 species worldwide.
Animals, birds and fish get sick or choke when they eat balloon fragments and plastic valves and attachments.  Many others marine animals drown when they get entangled in trailing ribbon or string.

Pictures tell the grim story, along with scientific research like this:

Ocean Conservancy promotes solutions
Ocean Conservancy and volunteers all around the world have worked together to help identify this wildlife threat by tracking balloons (along with other ocean trash) for more than 25 years through the International Coastal Cleanup.

Last year alone, volunteers picked up 93,913 balloons littering waterways and the ocean. We’re proud of our long history of putting numbers like that to use promoting positive change for the sea.

For example, back in 1990, International Coastal Cleanup volunteers picked up an astounding 30 pounds of balloons along Virginia’s Assateague Island on the Atlantic Ocean on just one day.

Analysts found that the balloons—many imprinted with the names of businesses or events—came from 52 sources in six states.

Ocean Conservancy presented the data—and the balloons—to the Virginia Assembly, and in 1991 the state legislature passed a law prohibiting mass balloon releases. Today releasing big quantities of balloons is against the law in a number of places.

Enjoy balloons – but hold on
Like many of the volunteers who help run the International Coastal Cleanup, Virginia Coordinator Katie Register of Clean Virginia Waterways works hard to raise awareness about ocean trash— including balloons.

“Go ahead and celebrate—but now that you know the down side, just make sure balloons don’t become litter,” says Register. “There are easy solutions, like attaching weights to the ribbon to keep a balloon from going into the sky if a child lets go.”

As word spreads around the world, hopefully more people will choose to mark their celebrations in ways that don’t harm ocean life. In the United Kingdom, for example, International Coastal Cleanup Coordinator Lauren Davis works for the Marine Conservation Society, which runs an education program called “Don’t Let Go.”

“There are so many positive emotions attached to balloon releases that sometimes it’s hard to get people to understand,” says Register, who recommends options that allow for safe disposal of balloons—or better yet, celebratory actions that don’t generate any trash.

Here are a few:

  • Drop balloons downward in a festive cascade in gyms, churches or ballrooms.
  • Plant a tree.
  • Donate a book to the library.
  • Blow bubbles.

You can help protect wildlife and our ocean by growing the worldwide movement for trash free seas. Be mindful of ways you can properly dispose of trash in your daily life. Reduce as much as you can. And join like-minded ocean lovers around the world for the upcoming International Coastal Cleanup on September 15.

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How to Make a Good Day on the Water Great: 5 Tips to Reduce Trash http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2012/08/02/how-to-make-a-good-day-on-the-water-great-5-tips-to-reduce-trash-2/ http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2012/08/02/how-to-make-a-good-day-on-the-water-great-5-tips-to-reduce-trash-2/#comments Thu, 02 Aug 2012 15:00:41 +0000 Catherine Fox http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/?p=1537

Love clean water? Pick up as you go to keep it that way! Credit: JohnCramerPhotography flickr user

With record temperatures coloring the weather map red across much of the country this summer, many of us are seeking relief on lakes, rivers, bays and the ocean. This past weekend, I beat the heat by floating blissfully down the Shenandoah River at Harper’s Ferry, West Virginia in an inner tube.

But right away I saw that my fellow tubers and I weren’t the only things being carried downstream. Around me bobbed all kinds of trash heading for the Potomac River, the Chesapeake Bay and eventually the Atlantic Ocean. Wind and ocean currents might even carry this trash to the North Pacific Gyre, or Pacific Garbage Patch.

My friend Steve and I made a fun and friendly competition of spotting and cleaning up Styrofoam cups, food wrappers, red-and-white fishing corks and even someone’s lost Croc.

There were so many single-use beverage containers,  I figured they likely bounced out of rafts or even people’s hands as they adventured through the rapids.

One of the most pervasive items was monofilament. We saw the sturdy fishing line everywhere—big snarls along with long, dangerous single strands almost impossible to see in the water, waiting to entangle hapless water birds, fish and other wildlife.

Collecting as much as we could carry, we wished we’d brought along a huge sack. But when we reached the outfitter’s pick up site at the end of the trip, a growing pile of trash was waiting for proper disposal thanks to our fellow adventurers.

It was great to see what a difference we’d all made together in one morning, working one by one. And it felt terrific knowing we left that beautiful river, a path to the ocean, cleaner than we found it.

How can each of us pitch in?

Simple: think ahead. If you’re going tubing, rafting, canoeing,  kayaking or heading out on a sailboat or power boat, it’s easy to protect wildlife and clean water.

  1. Take a bag—or two—for collecting trash; mesh lets the water drain out.
  2. Consider taking a dip net so you can easily snag items.
  3. Bring a reusable beverage bottle and secure it with twine so it doesn’t fall out and become trash; towing it in the water keeps your drink cool.
  4. Minimize trash when packing snacks or picnics.
  5. Recycle everything you can back onshore, including fishing line (find out about monofilament recycling here).

Got a notable experience with trash in the water you’d like to share, like finding weird items or large amounts of trash that surprised you? Share your story below in the comments section.


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What We Can Learn From Recent Bulldozing of Endangered Leatherback Sea Turtles http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2012/07/20/what-we-can-learn-from-recent-bulldozing-of-endangered-loggerhead-sea-turtles/ http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2012/07/20/what-we-can-learn-from-recent-bulldozing-of-endangered-loggerhead-sea-turtles/#comments Fri, 20 Jul 2012 17:17:21 +0000 Catherine Fox http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/?p=1794

A tiny leatherback hatchling on its way to the sea. Credit: Daniel Evans, www.conserveturtles.org

There was shocking news last week from Trinidad’s Grande Riviere beach, probably the densest nesting site for endangered leatherback sea turtles on the planet.

A long wet season had diverted a river’s flow, threatening turtle nesting areas as well as a hotel that hosts ecotourists who come to witness nesting season.

Government efforts to bulldoze the river back to its usual path, a move meant to save nesting areas, crushed sea turtle eggs and hatchlings. Early reports ranged to upwards of 20,000 small turtles lost, but revised numbers are much lower.

Communication, communication, communication
The incident is a classic case of inadequate planning and communication. All concerned agreed that redirecting the river was a good move. Unfortunately,

  • the government delayed responding to the request for several months,
  • the bulldozer arrived during peak nesting season when the sand was full of eggs and newly hatched leatherbacks, and
  • no advance notice was given to the community that the bulldozer was finally on its way so a knowledgeable person could guide the driver.

No one wants to hear about marine life being killed, but the story could have been a lot worse. “Sea turtle conservationists around the world admire the people in Trinidad who have safeguarded nesting females and changed the way they fish to prevent turtle capture in nets,” says Marydele Donnelley, director of international policy for the Sea Turtle Conservancy.

“Today, leatherbacks are the basis of eco-tourism programs that support numerous coastal communities, she adds. “While the recent and avoidable loss of hatchlings and eggs is heart-breaking, the overall population remains healthy.”

What Can You Do?  

Awareness and individual actions save sea turtles every day. If you’re planning to vacation at a beach where sea turtles nest, take a few precautions:

Sea turtle hatchlings need a clear, safe path to the ocean. Credit: Daniel Evans, www.conserveturtles.org

  • Don’t drive on the beach. Day or night driving can
    •  crush eggs in nests,
    • disturb nesting females,
    • disorient emerging hatchlings, and
    • kill young turtles attempting to reach the ocean. In addition, tire ruts slow their trip to the water, increasing vulnerability to predators like hungry birds.
  • Keep your dog off the beach during nesting season to protect hatchlings and eggs.
  • Turn off porch lights and draw the curtains. Artificial lights on and near the beach disorient baby sea turtles. Instead of going to the water, they wander inland where they often die of dehydration or get run over by cars.
  • Don’t leave beach furniture or recreational equipment on the beach overnight.  Beach chairs and kayaks can block or even entrap sea turtles.
  • Plant umbrellas in sand near the water where eggs aren’t at risk.
  • Pick up trash and sign up for Ocean Conservancy’s International Coastal Cleanup this September. Even small items like cups and food wrappers create   obstacles  that delay and entangle tiny hatchlings as they dash to the ocean. At sea, large and small turtles can become ensnared in debris or mistake trash for food.
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Reduce Trash at Your July 4th Bash http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2012/07/03/reduce-trash-at-your-july-4th-bash/ http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2012/07/03/reduce-trash-at-your-july-4th-bash/#comments Tue, 03 Jul 2012 18:02:29 +0000 Catherine Fox http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/?p=1436

This Fourth of July, celebrate your independence from unnecessary trash. Credit: flickr user Thomas Hawk

It’s time for the great American barbecues, picnics and parties that—along with patriotic music and fireworks—create great Independence Day memories.

Food, drink, décor and fireworks can mean a lot of trash—trash that often ends up in the ocean. That’s right, even if you live hundreds of miles from the ocean, trash from your area can travel down waterways to the sea, fouling the water and endangering wildlife.

How big is the problem? Last year during Ocean Conservancy’s International Coastal Cleanup, volunteers picked up enough food packaging alone for one person to get takeout breakfast, lunch and dinner for the next 858 years.

So if you’re planning to entertain on July 4th, think red, white and especially blue: Keep these tips in mind for a clean and healthy ocean:

1. Ask guests to bring their own reusable cup. (Added benefit: They can easily identify their drinks if they set them down.)

2. Place a recycling bin in plain sight.

3. If you get take-out, ask the deli to put potato salad or fried chicken directly on your serving platter to reduce throw-away containers that become trash.

4. Replace plastic knives, forks and spoons with the real thing.

5. After the party, roll up your mini-flags and other decorations and put them away for next year instead of pitching them.

6. Pick up all fireworks fragments that fall to the ground for proper disposal.

Got another tip? Leave it for others in the comments section below. And enjoy the holiday!

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Hitting the Road for Memorial Day? Six Tips for a Trash-free Trip http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2012/05/24/hitting-the-road-for-memorial-day-six-tips-for-a-trash-free-trip/ http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2012/05/24/hitting-the-road-for-memorial-day-six-tips-for-a-trash-free-trip/#comments Thu, 24 May 2012 16:08:56 +0000 Catherine Fox http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/?p=358
Credit: Mamboman1 flickr stream

Credit: Mamboman1 flickr stream

After participating in Ocean Conservancy’s International Coastal Cleanup for five years, researching and writing three ocean trash reports and seeing hundreds of photos of wildlife sick or dying because of this major pollution problem, I know how badly trash can affect our ocean.

The dangers are stamped on my mind and heart, so I produce as little trash as possible, recycle whenever I can and – when I remember – take along reusable shopping bags, cups and carryout containers when I go out.

However, when I recently attended a conference out of town, I realized I hadn’t brought my trash ethic along on the trip. A mere ten minutes after the cashier put my breakfast order into my hands, I threw all of this away:

1 paper bag
1 coffee cup
1 cup cozy
1 stirrer
1 empty sugar packet
1 plastic bowl
2 plastic packets (one for nuts, one for dried cranberries)
1 plastic spoon
1 napkin

That’s right, ten items for one oatmeal breakfast. Did I mention I was attending an international marine debris conference?

I sat there in the coffee shop, stunned, thinking, “Here I am, working to help people change how they handle trash so the ocean can be clean and healthy, and I have blown it.”

I’d read research about how tough it is for us to change behaviors, and that good intentions alone are not enough to do the job. Now I really got it.

Since then, I’ve learned to think ahead. I’m doing a better job handling my trash day to day. It’s a matter of awareness and planning. The next time you head out for a holiday weekend or vacation, consider of these tips for trash-free travel:

1. Staying in a hotel or rental property? Take time to find one that offers a recycling program.

2. Try new products like tablet-shaped “toothpaste” sold in recyclable cardboard boxes, or bars of shampoo that don’t require a bottle.
3. Prefer an organized suitcase? Instead of buying trendy packing cubes to keep things in place, reuse those zippered cases your sheets, blankets, and comforters came in.

4. Include these on your packing list: water bottle, to-go cup, reusable carryout container, small napkins, and utensils.

5. Cut back on snack packaging by taking along granola bars, cookies or other goodies in reusable snack pouches.

6. Be prepared to carry your trash – especially recyclables — in case you don’t see an appropriate receptacle when you need one. Carry a suitable bag that’s waterproof in case of leaks.

Please add your own ideas in the comments section below. We’ll all do a better job for trash free seas if we support each other!

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