Search Results for: world oceans day

World Oceans Day is June 8th, but then what? 10 ways to show the ocean love throughout the year

Acknowledging all of the movements and days of awareness can seem like a lot to keep up. Just yesterday was World Environment Day and in two days it will be World Oceans Day. Of course, I want to celebrate, support, and demonstrate a commitment to making a difference every day and especially on these special days. The first step has to be “being prepared”! So here is a guide I created for all the important days to look out for the next year. Mark those calendars, add a reminder on your phone, get ready to throw down for some serious high key awareness!

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July is Marine Debris/Plastic Free Month when you can take the challenge and urge people to refuse single use plastic. Why does reducing our plastic use matter? Here are two alarming facts from Scientific American:

  • Chemicals added to plastics are absorbed by human bodies. Some of these compounds have been found to alter hormones or have other potential human health effects.
  • Plastic debris, laced with chemicals and often ingested by marine animals, can injure or poison wildlife.

August 5th is National Oyster Day! Did you know oysters spawn during the summer months and therefore tend not to be as tasty. This is the epitome of the old wives’ tale on why “you shouldn’t eat oysters in months that don’t end in ‘R’.” Find an oyster festival near you here.

This September hosts the 15th Annual Sea Otter Awareness Week during September 24th-28th in 2017. Did you know that the sea otter has a fur that is not as dense as river otters?

October is National Seafood Month. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Fisheries takes this month to highlight sustainable fisheries as the smart seafood choice. Learn about sustainable choices as well as lots of recipes (someone please make the flounder stuffed with crabmeat for me, please!) from FishWatch.gov.

The 15th of November is designated as America Recycles Day. It’s a national initiative from Keep America Beautiful to learn what can be recycled in your community, recognize what can be reduced, and identify products made with recycled content. Learn more here.

December into January each year is one of the largest citizen science projects: Christmas Bird Count. Each year since the early 1900s the Audubon Society has been at the forefront of organizing this event. Get the app and see what a remarkable value you can be especially in providing data for reports such as the 2014 Climate Report.

International Polar Bear Day is February 27th. Let’s not pretend it just because they’re cute and cuddly. After all, they’re ferocious and male polar bears might eat their young if they can’t find food. This day is all about calling attention to their habitat loss (i.e., they’re in need of some serious sea ice) due to climate change.

The last Wednesday in March is Manatee Appreciation Day. These slow-moving creatures are slightly adorable and slightly gnarly. Regardless of your feelings they’re populations are going down and it’s primarily caused by human interactions.

Many people reading may know that April hosts is Earth Day but did you know that April 25th is World Penguin Day? This is the time of the year when the penguins travel north from Antarctica as winter moves in on the southern hemisphere.

May finishes the annual list with World Turtle Day on the 23rd! Did you know that if you see a tortoise, turtle, o terrapin is crossing a street, you can pick it up and send it in the same direction it was going – if you try to make it go back, it will turn right around again! Also, drive slow.

Now, when can we fit in a celebration for horseshoe crabs?

World Oceans Day is June 8th

June 8th is World Oceans Day, the UN-designated day for the global community to celebrate and take action for our shared ocean. So start the weekend off on a wave of advocacy and share the message that you have concern for the sea with your friends and family.

My call to action in honor of World Oceans Day? The Majestic Plastic Bag is one of the oceans greatest threats because chances are it’s so mundane you don’t even notice it effects. Look around you right now: how much plastic do you see and where does it go? Switch one disposable plastic habits for a sustainable, ocean-friendly one: such as bringing reusable food containers from home when eating out for your ‘doggie bag.’ Head out to your nearest and dearest body of water with some friends and pick up all the trash you find. You’ll be surprised at how much of it is plastic. Many communities around the world are banning plastic bags from being used at their stores. Learn how to start a campaign to stop plastic bags use in your town!

Here are some United States Events to celebrate World Oceans Day 2012 with others in your town.

“Never be afraid to raise your voice for honesty and truth and compassion against injustice and lying and greed. If people all over the world…would do this, it would change the earth.” ― William Faulkner

World Oceans Day

On today, World Oceans Day, I’d like to bring your attention to an editorial published yesterday in the Huffington Post “Looking for a Sea Change on World Oceans Day” by Vicki Spruill, Ocean Conservancy CEO. Please share your thoughts on the article and don’t forget to wear your blue!

Tomorrow is World Oceans Day!

Since a 2008 resolution by the United Nations, June 8 has been designated as the universal “World Oceans Day”. Each year, non-profit The Ocean Project pulls together a great list of events from around the world celebrating World Oceans Day. The theme for 2010 is “World of Life”.

Image (c) http://theoceanproject.org

Wear Blue, Tell Two

In 2009 the Ocean Project began a campaign to get people to wear blue as a way to represent the ocean on World Oceans Day. Another part of this campaign is to tell two people interesting facts about the ocean to inspire them to feel connected in hopes they will also become stewards of our marine environment.

You know where to tell people to go for interesting ocean facts … http://www.beachchairscientist.wordpress.com!

100 ocean quotes

Because there is not just one quote that summarizes how ethereal and majestic the ocean is, and in honor of World Oceans Day, and because you know I like lists, here is an archive of some inspiring quotes about the important aspects of our ocean all from people you may have heard of a time or two. If you have another favorite, please don’t forget to share and comment below.

100 Quotes about the ocean from the Beach Chair Scientist

1. “Man cannot discover new oceans unless he has the courage to lose sight of the shore.” – Andre Gide
2. “In one drop of water are found all the secrets of all the oceans” – Kahlil Gibran
3. “We know that when we protect our oceans we’re protecting our future.” – Bill Clinton
4. “It isn’t the oceans which cut us off from the world — it’s the American way of looking at things.” – Henry Miller
5. “The sea! the sea! the open sea!, The blue, the fresh, the ever free!” – Bryan W. Procter
6. “To me the sea is a continual miracle; The fishes that swim–the rocks–the motion of the waves–the ships, with men in them, What stranger miracles are there?” – Walt Whitman
7. “There is the life of the plankton in almost endless variety; there are the many kinds of fish, both surface and bottom living; there are the hosts of different invertebrate creatures on the sea-floor; and there are those almost grotesque forms of pelagic life in the oceans depths. Then there are the squids and cuttlefish, and the porpoises, dolphins and great whales.” – Sir Alister Hardy
8. “Every time we walk along a beach some ancient urge disturbs us so that we find ourselves shedding shoes and garments or scavenging among seaweed and whitened timbers like the homesick refugees of a long war.” – Loren Eiseley
9. “For whatever we lose (like a you or a me), It’s always our self we find in the sea.” – e.e. Cummings
10. “We are tied to the ocean. And when we go back to the sea, whether it is to sail or to watch – we are going back from whence we came…” – John F. Kennedy
11. “I seem to have been only like a boy playing on the seashore, and diverting myself in now and then finding a smoother pebble or a prettier shell than ordinary, whilst the great ocean of truth lay all undiscovered before me.” – Isaac Newton
12. “Life is life’s greatest gift. Guard the life of another creature as you would your own because it is your own. On life’s scale of values, the smallest is no less precious to the creature who owns it than the largest.” – Lloyd Biggle Jr.
13. “It is a curious situation that the sea, from which life first arose, should now be threatened by the activities of one form of that life. But the sea, though changed in a sinister way, will continue to exist: the threat is rather to life itself.” – Rachel Carson
14. “We ourselves feel that what we are doing is just a drop in the ocean. But the ocean would be less because of that missing drop.” – Mother Teresa
15. “To me, the sea is like a person–like a child that I’ve known a long time. It sounds crazy, I know, but when I swim in the sea I talk to it. I never feel alone when I’m out there.” – Gertrude Ederle
16. “My soul is full of longing for the secrets of the sea, and the heart of the great ocean sends a thrilling pulse through me.” – Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
17. “The sea will grant each man new hope, and sleep will bring dreams of home.” Christopher Columbus
18. “Animal protection is education to the humanity.” – Albert Schweitzer
19. “The least movement is of importance to all nature. The entire ocean is affected by a pebble.” -Blaise Pascal
20. “You can’t do anything about the length of your life, but you can do something about its width and depth.” – Evan Esar
21. “Our knowledge is a little island in a great ocean of nonknowledge.” – Isaac Bashevis Singer
22. “The greatest use of life is to spend it for something that will outlast it.” – William James
23. “The ocean stirs the heart, inspires the imagination and brings eternal joy to the soul.” – Wyland
24. “The tradition of freedom of the high seas has its roots in an era when there were too few people to seriously violate the oceans — but in hindsight that era ended some 150 years ago.” – James Carlton
25. “The true peace of God begins at any spot a thousand miles from the nearest land.” – Joseph Conrad
26. “Why do we love the sea? It is because it has some potent power to make us think things we like to think.” – Robert Henri
27. “The sea hath no king but God alone.” – Dante Gabriel Rossetti
28. “We never know the worth of water till the well is dry.” – Thomas Fuller
29. “After a visit to the beach, it’s hard to believe that we live in a material world.” – Pam Shaw
30. “Primeval forests! virgin sod! That Saxon has not ravish’d yet, Lo! peak on peak in stairways set— In stepping stairs that reach to God! Here we are free as sea or wind, For here are set Time’s snowy tents
In everlasting battlements Against the march of Saxon mind.” – Joaquin Miller
31. “The oceans deserve our respect and care, but you have to know something before you can care about it.” – Sylvia Earle
32. “The sea, once it casts its spell, holds one in its net of wonder forever.” – Jacques Yves Cousteau
33. “A lot of people attack the sea, I make love to it.” – Jacques Yves Cousteau
34. “From birth, man carries the weight of gravity on his shoulders. He is bolted to earth. But man has only to sink beneath the surface and he is free.” – Jacques Yves Cousteau
35. “No aquarium, no tank in a marine land, however spacious it may be, can begin to duplicate the conditions of the sea. And no dolphin who inhabits one of those aquariums or one of those marine lands can be considered normal.” – Jacques Yves Cousteau
36. “Water and air, the two essential fluids on which all life depends, have become global garbage cans.” – Jacques Yves Cousteau
37. “The sea is emotion incarnate. It loves, hates, and weeps. It defies all attempts to capture it with words and rejects all shackles. No matter what you say about it, there is always that which you can’t.” -Christopher Paolini
38. “Because there’s nothing more beautiful than the way the ocean refuses to stop kissing the shoreline, no matter how many times it’s sent away.” -Sarah Kay
39. “Hark, now hear the sailors cry / smell the sea, and feel the sky / let your soul & spirit fly, into the mystic.” -Van Morrison
40. “Total physical and mental inertia are highly agreeable, much more so than we allow ourselves to imagine. A beach not only permits such inertia but enforces it, thus neatly eliminating all problems of guilt. It is now the only place in our overly active world that does.” -John Kenneth Galbraith
41. “It’s hard for me to put into words why I like the beach so much. Everything about it is renewing for me, almost like therapy… Beach Therapy.” -Amy Dykens
42. “A pool just isn’t the same as the ocean. It has no energy. No life.” – Linda Gerber
43. “I spent uncounted hours sitting at the bow looking at the water and the sky, studying each wave, different from the last, seeing how it caught the light, the air, the wind; watching patterns, the sweep of it all, and letting it take me. The sea.” – Gary Paulsen
44. “Fishes live in the sea, as men do a-land; the great ones eat up the little ones.” – William Shakespeare
45. “I could never stay long enough on the shore; the tang of the untainted, fresh, and free sea air was like a cool, quieting thought.” – Helen Keller
46. “When anxious, uneasy and bad thoughts come, I go to the sea, and the sea drowns them out with its great wide sounds, cleanses me with its noise, and imposes a rhythm upon everything in me that is bewildered and confused.” – Rainer Maria Rilke
47. “The ocean makes me feel really small and it makes me put my whole life into perspective… it humbles you and makes you feel almost like you’ve been baptized. I feel born again when I get out of the ocean.” – Beyoncé Knowles
48. “The sea does not reward those who are too anxious, too greedy, or too impatient. One should lie empty, open, choiceless as a beach – waiting for a gift from the sea.” – Anne Morrow Lindbergh
49. “The use of sea and air is common to all; neither can a title to the ocean belong to any people or private persons, forasmuch as neither nature nor public use and custom permit any possession therof.” – Elizabeth I, Queen of England
50. “The voice of the sea speaks to the soul. The touch of the sea is sensuous, enfolding the body in its soft, close embrace.” – Kate Chopin
51. “I felt the full breadth and depth of the ocean around the sphere of the Earth, back billions of years to the beginning of life, across all the passing lives and deaths, the endless waves of swimming joy and quiet losses of exquisite creatures with fins and fronds, tentacles and wings, colourful and transparent, tiny and huge, coming and going. There is nothing the ocean has not seen.” – Sally Andrew
52. “The waves of the sea help me get back to me.” – Jill Davis
53. “There’s nothing wrong with enjoying looking at the surface of the ocean itself, except that when you finally see what goes on underwater, you realize that you’ve been missing the whole point of the ocean. Staying on the surface all the time is like going to the circus and staring at the outside of the tent.” – Dave Barry
54. “I couldn’t imagine living in a state that didn’t reach the ocean. It was a giant reset button. You could go to the edge of the land and see infinity and feel renewed.” – Avery Sawyer
55. “If we don’t manage this resource, we will be left with a diet of jellyfish and plankton stew.” Daniel Pauly
56. “I want to get out in the water. I want to see fish, real fish, not fish in a laboratory.” —Sylvia Earle
57. “People ask: Why should I care about the ocean? Because the ocean is the cornerstone of earth’s life support system, it shapes climate and weather. It holds most of life on earth. 97% of earth’s water is there. It’s the blue heart of the planet-we should take care of our heart. It’s what makes life possible for us. We still have a really good chance to make things better than they are. They won’t get better unless we take the action and inspire others to do the same thing. No one is without power. Everybody has the capacity to do something.” – Sylvia Earle
57. “It is important to remember that the ocean’s resources are finite. The commitment these kids are making here today is a clear and compelling call to all of us to pay attention to our ocean.” – Ted Danson
58. “My boat is on the shore, And my bark is on the sea.” George Gordon Byron
59. “Even castles made from sand fall to the ocean” – Jimi Hendrix
60. “Ever since I was a child I’ve felt connected to water: lakes, rivers, streams––I love to jump in and swim around. But it’s the ocean where I go for rejuvenation, revelation, and solace.” Susan Rockefeller
61. “No love is Like an ocean with the dizzy procession of the waves’ boundaries …” – Jack Spicer
62. “I pray to be like the ocean, with soft currents, maybe waves at times. More and more, I want the consistency rather than the highs and the lows.” – Drew Barrymore
63. “Without water, our planet would be one of the billions of lifeless rocks floating endlessly in the vastness of the inky-black void.” – Fabien Cousteau
64. “We are blessed with a magnificent and miraculous world ocean on this planet. But we are also stressing it in ways that we are not even close to bringing under control.” – Carl Safina
65. “The world’s finest wilderness lies beneath the waves …” – Wyland
66. “It is particularly appropriate that we unveil this campaign on this first day of the annual international coastal clean-up effort, … Beach cleanups are something each of us can do any time of the year. I’m proud to be participating in the cleanup efforts today and I encourage everyone to make the time for these types of activities.” – Ted Danson
67. “The ocean is a mighty harmonist.” – William Wordsworth
68. “Limitless and immortal, the waters are the beginning and end of all things on earth.” – Heinrich Zimmer
69. “The more clearly we can focus our attention on the wonders and realities of the universe about us, the less taste we shall have for destruction.” – Rachel Carson
70. “The sea lives in every one of us …” – Wyland
71. “Always remember that the ocean delights in feeling your feet in her eternal bath …” – Wyland
72. “Ocean energy can contribute a great deal toward the protection or our atmosphere – without damaging marine ecosystems that are equally vital to the planet’s future.” – Fred Krupp
73. “Do what we will, the Colorado will one day find an unimpeded way to the sea.” – Donald Worster
74. “At the end of the day, no amount of investing, no amount of clean electrons, no amount of energy efficiency will save the natural world if we are not paying attention to it – if we are not paying attention to all the things that nature give us for free: clean air, clean water, breathtaking vistas, mountains for skiing, rivers for fishing, oceans for sailing, sunsets for poets, and landscapes for painters. What good is it to have wind-powered lights to brighten the night if you can’t see anything green during the day? Just because we can’t sell shares in nature doesn’t mean it has no value.” – Thomas L. Friedman
75. “It was the Law of the Sea, they said. Civilization ends at the waterline. Beyond that, we all enter the food chain, and not always right at the top.” – Hunter S. Thompson
76. “There is nothing more enticing, disenchanting, and enslaving than the life at sea.” – Joseph Conrad

77. “And I shall watch the ferry boats, and they’ll get high, on a bluer ocean against tomorrow’s sky. and i will never grow so old again, and i will walk and talk, in gardens all wet with rain…” – Van Morrison
78. “‎I have always been fascinated by the ocean, to dip a limb beneath its surface and know that I’m touching eternity, that it goes on forever until it begins here again.” – Lauren DeStefano
79. “A pool just isn’t the same as the ocean. It has no energy. No life.” – Linda Gerber
80. “No matter how remote we feel we are from the oceans, every act each one of us takes in our everyday lives affects our planet’s water cycle and in return affects us.” – Fabien Cousteau
81. “Into the ocean went a world more fantastic than any imagination could inspire …” – Wyland
82. “You never enjoy the world aright, till the sea itself floweth in your veins, till you are clothed with the heavens and crowned with the stars.” – Thomas Traherne
83. “I do an awful lot of scuba diving. I love to be on the ocean, under the ocean. I live next to the ocean.” – James Cameron
84. “I heard silence, silence infinite as the bottom of the ocean, a silence that sealed.” – Anne Spollen
85. “The virtues are lost in self-interest as rivers are lost in the sea.” – Franklin D. Roosevelt
86. “Waves are the voices of tides. Tides are life.” – Tamora Pierce
87. “The fishermen know that the sea is dangerous and the storm terrible, but they have never found these dangers sufficient reason for remaining ashore.” – Vincent Van Gogh
88. “Your heart is like the ocean, mysterious and dark.” – Bob Dylan
89. “Individuals of all ages can make an important difference in the overall health of our ocean by the actions they take every day. Simple things like picking up trash on the beach, recycling and conserving water can have a big impact on the health of our ocean.” – Ted Danson
90. “With every drop of water you drink, every breath you take, you’re connected to the sea. No matter where on Earth you live.” – Sylvia Earle
91. “That the sea is one of the most beautiful and magnificent sights in Nature, all admit.” – John Joly
92. “To stand at the edge of the sea, to sense the ebb and flow of the tides, to feel the breath of a mist moving over a great salt marsh, to watch the flight of shore birds that have swept up and down the surf lines of the continents for untold thousands of year, to see the running of the old eels and the young shad to the sea, is to have knowledge of things that are as nearly eternal as any earthly life can be.” – Rachel Carson
93. “The three great elemental sounds in nature are the sound of rain, the sound of wind in a primeval wood, and the sound of outer ocean on a beach” – Henry Beston
94. “There is, one knows not what sweet mystery about the sea, whose gently awful stirrings seem to speak of some hidden soul beneath.” – Herman Melville
95. “To heal the ocean, we must heal ourselves.” – Dr. Rod Fujita
96. “If you like to eat seafood or swim in the ocean, it’s time to get involved.” – Julie Evans-Brumm
97. “And I have loved thee, Ocean! And my joy of youthful sports was on thy breast to be borne, like thy bubbles, onward; from a boy I wantoned with thy breakers. They to me were a delight; and if the freshening sea made them a terror, ‘twas a pleasing fear.” – Lord Byron
98. “Catch a wave, and you’re sitting on top of the world.” – The Beach Boys
99. “The sea is not a bargain basement.” – Jacques Cousteau
100. “Only God almighty and naval research can save us from the perils of the sea.” – John Warner

A Ray of Hope in a Sea of Chum

Megalodon: The Monster Shark Lives
Discovery brings SHARK WEEK viewers on a search for a massive killer Great White shark responsible for a rash of fatalities off the coast of South Africa. One controversial scientist believes that the shark responsible could be Megalodon, a 60-foot relative of the Great White that is one of the largest and most powerful predators in history. Our oceans remain 95% unexplored, and this massive prehistoric predator has always been shrouded in secrecy, but after a rash of newly discovered evidence, authorities are forced to investigate and hunt for the predator long thought to be extinct. A crew of scientists and shark experts examine evidence and fearlessly seek answers to the many questions surrounding one of the last great mysteries of the deep ocean while creating the largest chum slick in history. (http://bit.ly/SharkWeek2013-programming) 

That’s the way Shark Week feels to me these days, like a big, multi-platform chum slick…a greasy, fetid soup of fear and fascination that titillates more that it educates. Is that over the top? Yeah, probably, but then it will fit right into a line-up that includes titles like: I Escaped Jaws, Great White Serial Killer, and Sharkpocalypse. In all honesty, most of these shows will not be nearly as bad as their titles suggest. My primary beef is (and continues to be) the lack of shark diversity during Shark Week.

But hark, what’s that? A bioluminescent beacon of light from the deep? On Thursday, August 8, Discovery’s feature program is Alien Sharks of the Deep. Reading that title out loud makes it sound worse than the rest…like an early draft of the robo-monster blockbuster Pacific Rim. But no, this program appears to explore the weird, wonderful, and diverse sharks of the oceanic abyss. Could this restore my faith in the potential that is Shark Week? Think of some of the possibilities:

 Goblin sharks: Goblins have been known as tenguzame, after tengu, a fantastical creature of Japanese mythology often depicted with an elongated nose or beak. Goblins are fantastical in their own right, with long, blade-like rostrums and slingshot protrusible jaws that have to be seen to be believed.

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Goblin shark

 Taillight and lantern sharks: Many deepsea sharks are bioluminescent, creating light with specialized organs called photophores. Many of these sharks use their photophores to hide in the downwelling light by erasing their shadows through counterillumination. Tailight sharks also secrete a blue luminescent fluid from their, um, ‘tail end.’ Since the species is known from only two specimens and has never been seen alive, no one knows exactly what this fluid is for.

 Megamouth: Not to be confused with Megalodon. In fact, the two couldn’t be less alike. Large Megalodon teeth may be 5-7 inches long (about the size of your hand), megamouth teeth 5-7 millimeters (half the size of your pinkie fingernail). Whereas Megalodon likely fed on whales and other large marine mammals and turtles, megamouth is a plankton specialist. There have been only 55 confirmed sightings of megamouth sharks since 1976, and only a handful of these have been examined by scientists.   

Megamouth-shark

Megamouth shark

 Frilled sharks: Frilled sharks are a freak show. They hardly look like sharks at all. Well, they do, just more like sharks from hundreds of millions of years ago. The long, eel-like body, terminal mouth, unusual teeth, fins, and other anatomical features are all distinctly ancient. 

Frilled-shark-showing-specially-adapted-teeth

Frilled shark

 Rough sharks: Rough sharks are another group that breaks the stereotypical shark mold—small and hunchbacked, with large spiny dorsal fins. They may be fairly common in the deep waters where they’re found, but still, we know very little.

Rough shark. Photo Joanna Franke

Rough shark. Photo Joanna Franke

 Six- and sevengills: Cow sharks are another group with distinctly ancient features. Many have seen sevengills in public aquariums, but the larger sixgill sharks don’t do as well on display. Sixgills are broad, ponderous creatures, with large specimens more than 16 feet long and as big around as a Volkswagen (as one diver describes them). These normally deepwater denizens have been occasionally spotted right under pier at the Seattle Aquarium. Puget Sound’s deep, glacier-etched profile provides a unique opportunity to observe and study these sharks without the need for research vessels or submersibles. 

Bluntnose six-gill shark

Bluntnose six-gill shark

 Cookiecutters: Interested in learning about a glowing foot-long shark that feeds on whales, tunas, swordfish, and squid? So are scientists, as they don’t seem to agree on how this small, slow-swimming shark seems to manage it. While they might not have the physique for the feat, they have the oral equipment. Fleshy lips and a strong tongue create a suction grip that buys time for the cookiecutter’s large, triangular lower teeth to cut a plug from its unsuspecting victim. 

Photograph by Reuters/Tokyo Sea Life Park/Handout

Cookie cutter shark. Photograph by Reuters/Tokyo Sea Life Park/Handout

 Cats and dogs: The deepsea is really the realm of dogfish and catsharks…dozens of species, some with names alone that inspire curiosity. Don’t you want to know more about lollipop catsharks, mosaic gulper sharks, birdbeak dogfish, spatulasnout catsharks, velvet bellies, demon catsharks, frog sharks, pajama sharks, pocket sharks, and pygmy ribbontail catsharks? Me too.

 I’m excited for Alien Sharks in a way I haven’t been for Shark Week programming in a very long time. Wednesday night I’ll have trouble sleeping with visions of lanternsharks dancing in my head. There is soooo much more to sharks than white sharks and tigers and bulls (oh my). How can we encourage more programming that highlights this fascinating diversity? We can watch.

 That’s my call to action. Watch Alien Sharks of the Deep on August 8, 10:00/9:00 central. Ask your friends to watch. Throw an Alien Sharks party. Dress up like an Alien Shark for work. Live tweet #AlienSharks like the second coming of Sharknado (you can follow and tweet at me @jimwharton). Show Discovery your love for Alien Sharks and beg them for more. Be as pathetic as you like. Let’s send a message that it’s a big wide world of sharks out there and we want to see more of it…and we’ll be happy to swim through an ocean of chum to get there.

3 truths on the fables about ‘dolphin-safe’ labels

It all started recently as my 2 year-old showed those tendencies towards becoming a picky eater. I embarked on a supermarket safari for proteins and soon enough I found myself in the canned tuna aisle. Have you been there lately? It’s a little overwhelming with all of the labels. I usually just go for the salmon for the additional omega-3s, but I had a feeling the toddler would turn that down. Also, I am all about rites of passage and isn’t canned tuna with mayonnaise on toast right up there with peanut butter and jelly and macaroni and cheese? Given that I do care, especially with the recent findings of an Oceana report that states 1 in 3 fish are mislabeled,  the nerd in me had to navigate the meaning behind all those ‘eco-safe’ labels found on canned tuna.

Here’s some surprising truths behind the fables about the ‘dolphin-safe’ label you’ll need to know before baking your next casserole:

1) The U.S. wouldn’t sell anything that’s not ‘dolphin-safe’ – label or not. While it’s true that the U.S. has the most restrictive definition of what it means to be ‘dolphin-safe’ it’s also true that canned tuna is the #1 seafood import in the U.S. The internationally accepted definition of ‘dolphin-safe’ is “tuna caught in sets in which dolphins are not killed or seriously injured,” but the U.S. requires that “no tuna were caught on the trip in which such tuna were harvested using a purse seine net intentionally deployed on or to encircle dolphins, and that no dolphins were killed or seriously injured in the sets in which the tuna were caught.” Unfortunately, if we’re rarely eating tuna from the U.S. we can’t say how it’s caught.

2) ‘Dolphin-safe’ labels are designated by the government. I was shocked to realize that its independent observers (i.e., private organizations) making claims to what is ‘dolphin-safe’. But, then I remembered that tuna are an especially difficult species to manage given that they migrate all over the world. The good news on the horizon is that during his State of the Union address in January, President Obama mentioned the U.S. will begin negotiating a free trade agreement (FTA) with the European Union. What does this have to do with tuna fisheries? Well, apparently the talks for the FTA would include discussions on non-tariff barriers. Non-tariff barriers include “things like labels indicating a product’s country-of-origin, whether tuna is dolphin-safe, or whether your breakfast cereal has genetically-modified corn in it.” The need to be more consistent as to how we label tuna was also acknowledged by the World Trade Organization (WTO). The WTO noted that, “while well-intentioned, the ‘dolphin-safe’ labels are deceptive to consumers and quite outdated”. Also, according to the Campaign for Eco-Safe Tuna, “There’s no denying that more than 98% of the tuna in the U.S. market today is sourced from unmonitored and untracked fisheries where thousands of dolphins are killed every year.” That’s a frightening statistic if you’re trying to make the right choice on what can of tuna to purchase.

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Image (c) World Wildlife Fund

3) If it’s ‘dolphin-safe’ it must be safe for all marine life. Let’s cut to the chase here. Canned tuna that is troll or hook-and-line caught is the best choice for a conscious consumer. Other methods of fishing for tuna (e.g., backdown technique, purse seines) have been shown to cause long-term stress to dolphins (leading to their eventual death), including heart and muscle lesions. You might also be disheartened to realize that sharks, billfish, birds, and sea turtles (see image) are often the unintended catch (known as ‘bycatch’) of fishing for tuna. The fish aggregating devices (FAD) commonly used to catch tuna are known as some as the most destructive fishing practices man has ever used.

Where does that leave me in the decision of what type of tuna to purchase for my family? As I mentioned, choosing hook and line (also known as ‘pole-caught’) canned tuna is the most sustainable choice. Fishing for tuna with hook and line 1) enables fish that are too small to be returned to the ocean, 2) practically eradicates any bycatch, and 3) ensures the ocean ecosystem to remain intact eliminating the potential loss of biodiversity. Be careful though since ‘line-caught’ can mean using a longline to catch tuna. However, this method produces ample bycatch as well.

Please feel free to comment below or email questions on this article to Ann McElhatton, Beach Chair Scientist, at info@beachchairscientist.com.

70 Degrees West project

I’m continuing the theme of “We affect what goes in our watershed” this week (see posts on pharmaceuticals and oil) and introducing you to an adventurous and creative couple, Justin Lewis and Michelle Stauffer, working together on the 70 Degrees West project. They launched this project almost a year ago in April of 2012 and have completed Phase I – an expedition to Greenland. They have 8 expeditions planned along the 70 degree line of longitude. According to their blog, they’re currently  traveling, taking pictures, and shooting video in  Penobscot Watershed in Maine.

But, what really brought them to my attention was this Kickstarter project for Phase III. They’re headed to the Sargasso Sea to provide an “informative, eye-opening account about what’s going on in the oceans”. You may have heard of the Pacific Garbage Patch, but there is also one that exists in the Atlantic Ocean. During the expedition they’ll merge science and art to  “demonstrate how human actions on land impact our oceans”, especially with the accumulation of marine debris in the sea. The Sargasso Sea lies in the center of a huge oval of still waters bounded by ocean currents – the only sea not bordered by land. Dr. Sylvia Earle has called the Sargasso Sea “the golden rainforest of the ocean” because of the extensive amounts of Sargassum that floats in mats on the surface of the ocean. The Sargasso Sea is also the epic place that eels mysteriously mate.

The project has just 25 days to go. Check out this video and learn more about them today!

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Computer model output of where plastic accumulates worldwide from Wired

What is marine debris? It is any type of garbage that can get into the ocean (e.g., glass, aluminum cans, plastic bags). It’s important to remember that even though you might not drop trash at the shoreline, if you’re dropping trash ANYWHERE it will lead to the ocean by waterways such as streams, rivers, and lakes. Did you know that the vast majority of marine debris is plastic? Learn more about how plastic can be harmful to marine life here.

Besides marine debris, petroleum, and pharmaceuticals, what are some other ways fish or aquatic life are affected by what we put in our waterways?

You can read about 5 incredible marine debris warriors here.

Lastly, best of luck to Justin Lewis and Michelle Stauffer as you continue your 70 Degrees West project!

Share your love of the ocean with these unique and inspiring gifts

With less than two weeks before the big ‘gift-o-rama’ day, it’s time to hunker down and get those gifts in time for wrapping and shipping (after all, shipping ground is a lot less harmful for the environment than air). Here’s a list of gift ideas that will inspire anyone on your list to follow your lead to take an active role in loving and learning about the ocean.

1. Beach Amazonite necklace from Peace of Mind on Etsy: It’s a piece to be treasured with a sweet little charm that hangs  on an 18″ sterling silver ball chain with a lobster style clasp. Also, $10 from the sale of each necklace will be donated to the Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society.
2. Cutting board from Waypoint (pictured): Avalon_CB-250x250This sturdy piece features the coordinates of ‘where you want to be’ and is made of solid maple and mahogany. It makes an interesting decoration or is perfect for serving appetizers. The double cleat board features two stainless steel 5” Herrschoff nautical cleats and measures approximately 8″ x 20″. This classic piece was a big hit as a recent gift for my father-in-law who has a cottage in Falmouth, UK. Made in the USA.
3. Driftwood hat or coat rack from nestibles on Etsy: Check out this sturdy, repurposed, shabby chic hook set for your entryway. The wood was collected from Long Island Sound and was sanded with a yellow paint wash.
4. Horseshoe crab pillow from Outer Banks Trading Group: It’s a hand sewn 14″ x 24″ pillow printed with environmentally friendly pigment ink on an organic cotton/hemp blend with a knife edge. Made in the USA.
5. Marine rope doormat from Gaiam: This durable doormat, made from reclaimed lobster trap float ropes, is resistant to mildew and indestructible. It’s 33” x 20½”  and is available with the options of black/teal and blue/green, although they vary because the availability is based upon the float ropes traded in by the Maine lobstermen.
6. Messenger bag from United By Blue: This bag is perfect for any beach adventure. It’s made of 100% organic cotton and United By Blue removes 1 pound of trash from our oceans and waterways around the world for every item sold.
7. Salts of the world from Uncommon Goods: Six varieties of exotic salts for presentation or cooking. It’s set in a groovy and stylish rack made of reclaimed cedar. The salts are from around the world but the tubes are made in the USA.
8. Tumblers from Tervis: These sturdy insulated cups keep hot drinks hot and cold drinks cold by harnessing air and sport all sorts of designs from the Maryland blue crab to your alma mater. Made in the USA.

Check out these fun finds for the kids:

1. 10 Little Rubber Ducks by Eric Carle
2. Lionfish puzzle from Fat Brain Toys
3. Sea life bath puzzle from Abe’s Market
4. Sea plane from Green Toys

These are just some ideas if you’re sitting at your desk shopping. But, why not get out there are check out the gift shop at your local nature center?

5 on-the-ground warriors for marine debris

I’ll be incredibly frank and honest and say that I do not do as much on-the-ground ocean activism as I’d like to do these days. I do participate the occasion stream clean-up and rally from time to time, but with a full-time job and a family including an active toddler, time is scarce and I’m lucky if I can pull it together to write a post or two or marine debris. Since this upcoming weekend is the annual International Coastal Cleanup I wanting to take the time to send a shout out and a huge virtual dose of gratitude for 5 very active on-the-ground marine debris and ocean activists. If you have the chance, check out what they’re doing as I know every time I read up on what they’re accomplishing I am continually inspired. As a matter of fact, you’ll have the chance to get to know one of them a little bit more in-depth tomorrow as a part of the “What Marine Conservationists Are Into …” series. (On a side note, all of my Virginia friends and family should be on the lookout because I am gearing up to gather a crowd to participate in the Virginia Waterways Cleanups!)

Sarah Bayles of The Daily Ocean
Sarah is steadfastly collecting trash from the same beach for 20 minutes at a time for 365 non-consecutive days to “raise awareness for how much trash is on our beaches and getting into the ocean, that the solutions start with us right here on land, and that everyday we can make choices in what we consume and buy that can add up to make a difference”. Her work ethic is inspiring and she’s diligent in posting the weight of the trash she collects. At the point I write this post she collected 1,234.3 pounds in 325 days.

Danielle Richardet of It Starts With Me
Just like Sarah of Our Daily Ocean, Danielle spends 20 minutes a day cleaning a beach but in Wrightsville Beach, NC and she’s focused on finding cigarette butts. Here incredibly positive message is that “It’s simple…everything we do (or don’t do) has an impact on the world we live in. It starts with me and ripples to you…”. I wish Danielle the best as she continues her quest to “create a smoke-free beach and have proper cigarette butt disposal receptacles installed on Wrightsville Beach”. Can you believe she’s collected 50,129 cigarette butts in 156 days?

Harold Johnson of The Flotsam Diaries
Harold Johnson has been researching and collecting marine debris weekly at two very different sites (one active by beachgoers and one non-active) in Maine since June of 2010. As he puts it, “I’m hoping to learn something about the debris that arrives at the beach both by regular beachgoers, and by actions of wave & wind”. You can read his findings weekly on his blog or get some more detailed reviews of his research at Scientific American.

Cheryl ‘Sandy’ King of Sharkastics
Cheryl is interested in everything ocean-related, but has found a niche spreading the word all about sharkastics. Sharkastics are what she has termed “plastics that have obvious bite marks (e.g., jagged serrations and/or punctures). She posts many images of the debris she finds and is more than happy to share them for educational purposes (although she requests you share with her how you use them).

Tim Silverwood of Take 3: A Clean Beach Initiative
Tim is a surfer and plastic pollution spokesperson based in Australia. In 2009, he and his compadres began thinking about proactive ways the public could reduce the amount of waste entering the oceans. The Take-3 initiative was born. As the website states, “The ‘Take 3’ message is simple: take 3 pieces of rubbish when you leave the beach, waterway or…anywhere and you have made a difference”.

Here is a powerful and beautifully done depiction on why everyone is responsible for marine debris. Thanks to designer and illustrator Jenny Wang for reminding us that it is not just those that live near an ocean who contribute to ocean pollution.