Posts Tagged ‘ocean health’

Dolphins are some of the smartest beings on our planet.

I have always known the amazing intelligence of dolphin and all cetacean. This video captures an amazing relationship, though brief, between a Bottlenose dolphin and a diver who is there when it mattered.

The Backstory:

A wounded dolphin approaches a man during a night dive.

Its behaviour seemed to point that it’s asking for help.

Attached to its left pectoral fin was a plastic wire (fish line).

The diver removes the embedded hook & cuts the majority of the line, leaving only a very little piece.

Watch the trust that the dolphin shows towards the diver.

It looks as if it knows exactly what the man is doing.

At the end the dolphin swims away, freed from the fish line.



Beautiful and compelling.

Begs the question: What have you done today to help save our oceans?

Here’s a list of a few:



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For at least the past 10 years, I’ve been telling anyone who will listen about the impending catastrophic results of dumping plastic into our oceans. I’ve written about various research projects into the Pacific Gyre –  AKA: The Great Pacific Garbage Patch, and Project Kaisei, Mary Crowley San Francisco-based expedition team that studies marine debris in the North Pacific Gyre in hopes of cleaning up the pollution that will ultimately cause irreversible damage to oceans. Problems like Acidification, temperature rise and worse, destruction of marine habitats.

They were among the first to study ways in which we can perhaps clean up the garbage and fortunately, many have followed. Scripps Institute of Oceanography, in conjunction with the University of California, San Diego, has also been involved in important research.

A new study, release in May 2012, follows a report published last year by Scripps researchers in the journal Marine Ecology Progress Series showing that nine percent of the fish collected during their study in 2009, called SEAPLEX (Scripps Environmental Accumulation of Plastic Expedition), “contained plastic waste in their stomachs. That study estimated that fish in the intermediate ocean depths of the North Pacific Ocean ingest plastic at a rate of roughly 12,000 to 24,000 tons per year.”

It’s enough to make you sick, just thinking about it! The cause… a 100-fold upsurge in human-produced plastic garbage in the ocean, which is altering habitats in the marine environment, according to the study led by graduate students at Scripps.

SEAPLEX concentrated their studies a thousand miles west of California, onboard the Scripps research vessel New Horizon. During the voyage, they documented “an alarming amount of human-generated trash, mostly broken down bits of plastic the size of a fingernail floating across thousands of miles of open ocean.”


LEFT: Examples of a not-yet-hatched sea skater (Halobates sericeus) egg (top), about the size of a grain of rice, and a hatched egg (bottom). Photo: Miriam Goldstein, Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego. RIGHT: SEAPLEX researchers collected an alarming amount of small bits of broken down plastic floating across thousands of miles of open ocean. Photo: Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego.


A fully-grown sea skater

Another new study, this one in the journal Biology Letters, reveals that plastic debris in the area known as the “Great Pacific Garbage Patch” has increased by 100 times over the past 40 years, leading to changes in the natural habitats of animals such as the marine insect Halobates sericeus. These “sea skaters” or “water striders”-relatives of pond water skaters-inhabit water surfaces and lay their eggs on flotsam. Naturally existing surfaces for their eggs usually include, for example: seashells, seabird feathers, tar lumps and pumice. In the new study researchers found that sea skaters have exploited the influx of plastic garbage as a new surface for their eggs. This has led to a rise in the insect’s egg densities in the North Pacific Subtropical Gyre.


During SEAPLEX, sea skaters and plastic trash were collected with a fine-meshed net called a “manta net,” seen here being deployed from R/V New Horizon by Miriam Goldstein and Mario Aguilera. Photo: J. Leichter, Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego

Such an increase, documented for the first time in a marine invertebrate (animal without a backbone) in the open ocean, may have consequences for animals across the marine food web, such as crabs that prey on sea skaters and their eggs.

“This paper shows a dramatic increase in plastic over a relatively short time period and the effect it’s having on a common North Pacific Gyre invertebrate,” said Scripps graduate student Miriam Goldstein, lead author of the study and chief scientist of SEAPLEX, a UC Ship Funds-supported voyage. “We’re seeing changes in this marine insect that can be directly attributed to the plastic.”

In April, researchers with the Instituto Oceanográfico in Brazil published a report that eggs of Halobates micans, another species of sea skater, were found on many plastic bits in the South Atlantic off Brazil.

“Plastic only became widespread in late ’40s and early ’50s, but now everyone uses it and over a 40-year range we’ve seen a dramatic increase in ocean plastic,” said Goldstein. “Historically we have not been very good at stopping plastic from getting into the ocean so hopefully in the future we can do better.”

Coauthors of the study include Marci Rosenberg, a student at UCLA, and Scripps Research Biologist Emeritus Lanna Cheng.


Microplastic concentrations in 1972-1987 (a and b) and 1999-2010 (c and d) based on new data (SEAPLEX, NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer cruises), Algalita Marine Research Foundation as well as published data based on Wong et al (1974), Shaw (1977), Day & Shaw (1987), Gilfillan et al (2009) and Doyle et al (2011).

To read the entire research article, go to http://scrippsnews.ucsd.edu/Releases/?releaseID=1271

If you’d like to make a difference, here are

10 Things You Can Do To Save Our Oceans:

  1. DONATE to the Ocean Conservancy
  2. Be a part of the expedition
  3. Ditch plastic and use reusable bags, bottles, containers, utensils, and even straws. Try going completely plastic free to appreciate how much of the plastic in our lives goes unnoticed.
  4. Participate in International Coastal Cleanup. Pick up litter on beaches and help reduce coastal pollution. Much of the plastic and debris found in the ocean are first discarded on the beach. Bring a trash bag with you for your garbage, and organize a beach cleanup party with friends and family or local community members.
  5. Recycle as much as you can. The more, the better, so it goes nowhere else than into the virtuous cycle of humans reusing our own junk.
  6. Reduce your energy use
  7. Use less fertilizer -Grow your lawn and garden organically.
  8. Choose your seafood wisely
  9. Tell Congress to Fight Ocean Plastic!
  10. Take a Pledge To Stop Plastic Trash – It’s time!

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Last night I saw a report on NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams called “Living Better With Les.” In the report they featured a few viewers who have “gotten back to basics” by ridding themselves of a lifetime of accumulated “stuff.” Could it be that Americans are starting to catch on? Is Consumerism on the wane? Lord, let it be so…


Saga is visited by a ulu in the San Blas Islands. N.Birnbaum©2004

Perhaps it’s my hippie roots, but I’ve always considered rampant consumerism a sickness. Like overdoing it with drugs or alcohol, Americans just can’t say no when it comes to buying useless stuff. I guess that’s why I took so easily to the Cruising Lifestyle. When Jann & I met in 1998 (doing the Baja Ha Ha Rally) and decided to go cruising, i set out to rid myself of 27 years of accumulation. Five garage sales and one flea market later, I had indeed separated myself from almost all my worldly possessions. Friends would ask me, “How did you do it?” or “You must have cried!” But actually, it was liberating, a feeling most of those interviewed for the NBC piece, also reported. Jann on the other hand had unwillingly lost all of his possessions in the 91′ Oakland Hills Fire, when he lost his house and all that was in it.

It’s hard to say which is harder, getting rid of your stuff willingly or unwillingly. Both have their inherent pros and cons. I was happy to have some control over how much my stuff sold for, though i wouldn’t recommend garage sales in the hills of Marin Country where I sold my stuff! Of course, I donated lots of it to charities, which felt good to do. We’ve done the “land-thing” and started over twice since we set off on our cruise in 1999, each time acquiring new stuff, just to sell it or give it away before setting off again. Sometimes it can’t be helped. For us it was ill parents that required a temporary move back to the States with new jobs, new apartment, and new stuff that one must get. We’ll do it again. Soon, I hope!

Cruisers are either good at doing more with less or perhaps they just learn from experience. Of course some keep their stuff in storage when they head off on a long voyage. Some have rental properties in which they’ve wisely converted a small room into a locked storage space. And others, like us, try to squeeze all their stuff onto a small boat! In fact, folks often told us that we had a 55′ boat crammed into our little Alberg 35! Cruisers know how to conserve. They know that they can only use as much power as they can put back into their onboard batteries; they often have alternative power such as solar or wind generators; they install watermakers, and don’t waste much. When they are cruising pristine islands with no trash disposal at hand, they have pot lucks around a trash burn bonfire! They NEVER throw anything overboard that can’t spend the remainder of its life as a home for a sea creature at the bottom of the ocean. They usually don’t take souvenirs off the beach


Visiting Cruisers anchored in the Banana River for the SSCA Gam. N.Birnbaum©2008

(well, maybe just a couple of pretty shells!), and never leave trash behind. And, there’s one more thing that cruisers know how to do…something that really speaks to the whole concept of Living Better with Less…cruisers know how to fix s&%t. A lost art in America, though common in third world countries. We don’t just toss it when it breaks, we fix it! Or as the old cruising adage goes, “If it breaks and you ca

n’t fix it, discover why you didn’t need it in the first place!”

I write this as I am going through our storage unit looking for all the old cruising gear that we’re not using so that I can take it up to the Annual SSCA Gam this weekend in Melbourne, FL and get into the hands of this years cruising fleet at the flea market. I’m dedicated to recycling. Sometimes I think I’m the only one around here that is.


Saga's Settee Storage Re-do

So here’s to living better with less. We’re looking forward to getting our next boat — a catamaran (which we won’t be able to overload with stuff!), and getting back out there. I’m pleased to hear that Americans are finally catching on!

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I just had to share this amazing story with all of you…



“The Whale… If you read a recent front page story of the San Francisco Chronicle, you would have read about a female humpback whale who had become entangled in a spider web of crab traps and lines. She was weighted down by hundreds of pounds of traps that caused her to struggle to stay afloat. She also had hundreds of yards of line rope wrapped around her body, her tail, her torso, a line tugging in her mouth. A fisherman spotted her just east of the Farallon Islands (outside the Golden Gate) and radioed an environmental group for help. Within a few hours, the rescue team arrived and determined that she was so bad off, the only way to save her was to dive in and untangle her. They worked for hours with curved knives and eventually freed her. When she was free, the divers say she swam in what seemed like joyous circles. She then came back to each and every diver, one at a time, and nudged them, pushed them gently around as she was thanking them. Some said it was the most incredibly beautiful experience of their lives. The guy who cut the rope out of her mouth said her eyes were following him the whole time, and he will never be the same”

May you, and all those you love, be so blessed and fortunate to be surrounded by people who will help you get untangled from the things that are binding you.

And, may you always know the joy of giving and receiving gratitude.

I pass this on to you, my friends, in the same spirit.



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The reserach schooner Kaisei

Imagine an ocean filled with plastic…not a very nice image, is it? Fortunately, someone is finally doing something about this horrible fact.

Project Kaisei is a non-profit organization based in San Francisco and Hong Kong, established to increase the understanding and the scale of marine debris, its impact on our ocean environment, and how we can introduce solutions for both prevention and clean-up.

Now imagine you and three guests exploring the myriad uninhabited islands and secluded coves of French Polynesia for one week aboard ROCKET SCIENCE, a 50 ft. sailing yacht! Better, right?

Plastic trash in the global ocean is one the most serious problems facing the planet today. Help Project Kaisei continue its work.

Healthy Oceans Matter!

Purchase a ticket or two today! Grand Prize Drawing  August 28, 2010


S/V Rocket Science

Grand Prize – A week aboard Rocket Science in French Polynesia  (Includes all expenses paid for four people includes R/T airfare from anywhere in the continental US, all on board amenities, water sports galore and exquisite meals, plus $2,500.00 in spending cash!)

FusionStorm Foundation was established in 2009 to raise awareness about the complex environmental  issues facing the planet today. John Varel, CEO of FusionStorm, Inc, a leading systems integrator and managed services provider based in San Francisco was alarmed by the increase of plastic trash accumulating in the world’s ocean. The foundation’s first project is to support the work of OVI and its ocean clean up initiative, Project Kaisei.

Ocean Voyages Institute/Project Kaisei, established in 1979 by Mary Crowiey is a 501 (c) 3 organization based in Sausalito, California. Its mission is to raise awareness about the importance of ocean conservation and to take action to clean up and protect the global ocean. Over 70% of the planet is ocean and its health is important to the health of the entire planet and to our own health.

In 2009, Project Kaisei was established to increase the understanding and the scale of plastic marine debris, its impact on our ocean environment, and how we can introduce solutions for both prevention and clean-up. Project Kaisei derives its name from the 151 ft. brigantine, Kaisei which means Ocean Planet in Japanese and serves as the research vessel for the project. The project is focused now on the North Pacific Gyre, which constitutes a large accumulation of debris in one of the largest and most remote ecosystems on the planet. To accomplish these objectives, Project Kaisei is serving as a catalyst to bring together public and private collaborators to design, test and implement break-throughs in science, prevention and remediation.

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The School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology (SOEST) at the University of Hawaii at Manoa has released a video animation predicting the longterm fate of the BP oil spill.


HD animation of Gulf Oil Spill dispersal

Assuming that the oil flow is capped on September 17, and estimating that 50,000 barrels of oil per day will have been released continuously since the April 20th Deepwater Horizon oil rig explosion, the animation paints a devastating picture of the southern and eastern coastlines of the United States.

The research for the animation was supported by the Japan Agency for Marine-Earth Science and Technology (JAMSTEC), NASA, and NOAA.

MORE: http://www.soest.hawaii.edu/soest_web/soest.gulf2010_longterm.htm

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