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Posts Tagged ‘save our seas’

A SEA OF TRASH

sea-of-trash

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.”

scrippsnews.ucsd.eduimages-Halobates-Plastic

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.

scrippsnews.ucsd.eduimages-Halobates-skater

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.

SEAPLEX-researchers

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-graph-scripps-institute

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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Take the Seafood Pledge for Worlds Ocean Day!

Today is World Oceans Day and on behalf of the world’s oceans and the Sea Turtle Restoration Project, I want to acknowledge the hard work these fine folks are doing and ask your support to help protect sea turtles and our precious oceans for all of us. Please join me and my fellow cruisers and help any way you can!

June is worth celebrating!

President Obama recently signed proclamations designating June as Great Outdoors Month and National Oceans Month.

“Both proclamations are an exceptional recognition for the value of our nation’s waterways and reinforce the vital role fishing and boating play in strengthening the U.S. economy and providing a means for Americans to ‘explore, play and grow together,” the National Marine Manufacturers Association said in a statement.

In his proclamation of Great Outdoors Month, Obama says, “This month, let each of us resolve to protect our great outdoors; discover their wonders; and share them with our friends, our neighbors, and our children.”  You can Read the proclamation Here.

West Marine Grants $30K to non-profits who protect marine habitats

In honor of World Oceans Day, West Marine, the largest specialty retailer of boating supplies and accessories, today announced the recipients of their annual Marine Conservation Grants program.  Grants for a total amount of $30,000 are being awarded to non-profit organizations throughout the U.S. who are working to “improve and protect marine habitat,” which is part of West Marine’s mission.  This year’s grant recipients are located in Florida, North Carolina, New Jersey, Maryland and California. For more info and a list of the recipients, go to Conservation Grants.

sea-of-trash

Here’s a few things you can do…

to participate in World Oceans Day and to help celebrate World Turtle Day on June 16th.

  1. Celebrate World Turtle Day June 16 with sea turtle scientists at the Cal Academy Night Life in Golden Gate Park. Pacific leatherback expert Scott Benson will reveal the latest findings about these rare and mysterious sea turtles. Join the Sea Turtle Restoration Project community at a party for the sea turtles at the incredible California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco! If you can help STRP and volunteer, send an email to info@seaturtles.orgturle_caught_in_plastic
  2. “I pledge to protect myself against mercury”

    Sadly, capture and drowning in shrimp trawl, swordfish and tuna fishing gear is the leading cause of deaths of sea turtles from human activity. By not eating this fish we can reduce demand for it and the need for more fishing. Much of this fish is also high in mercury. Join the over 1,100 ocean lovers and –  Take the Pledge Here!

  3. Visit Your Local Aquarium
    Many aquariums do fantastic research an advocacy for oceans, and the funds they receive from patrons can help them keep afloat, so to speak. Not only that, but you learn so much about local and exotic sealife. It’s hard to visit an aquarium and not walk away with a soft spot for marine ecosystems and fish.
  4. Donate to a Favorite Ocean Advocacy Group
    There are a range of nonprofits working to help the ocean, and they need your help. Why not send a little something (or a lot something) to one or a few groups making a difference. I recommend SeaTurles.org, Conservation International, or Save Our Seas, just to name a few.
  5. Sign the Care2 “Save Sharks” Petition
    As many as 73 million or more sharks are killed every year for shark fin soup. Around the world populations of these important predators are collapsing and species are going extinct. Many species such as the oceanic white tip and great hammerhead have dropped by 99% in just the last 50 years. They may strike fear in many, but we really do need them in the big picture! Sign Care2’s petition to help save sharks today, and protect this vital species from extinction.

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

Enjoy!

humpback-whale-and-man

“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.

Namaste,

-Nancy

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