What they’re into … with David Helvarg

This is a series I will be featuring each Tuesday this summer to get a special sneak peak at the different personalities behind the scientists, activists, and educators (including bloggers) who play an integral role in the marine science conservation field. It’s essentially an extension of the overwhelmingly popular and well done Tumblr blog, This Is What A Scientist Looks Like, (BCS was featured in April!) which sets out to illustrate that scientists are not just crazy haired nerds in lab coats. I’ve sent a list of 15 random questions to some folks I know and asked that each person share at least their answers to 5 of them. This first week we’re starting off with the one and only David Helvarg.

David is an author and Executive Director of Blue Frontier Campaign.  has written: Blue Frontier, The War Against the Greens, 50 Ways to Save the Ocean, Rescue Warriors and Saved by the Sea. His next book, ‘The Golden Shore – California’s Love Affair with the Sea’ will be out in early 2013. He is editor of the Ocean and Coastal Conservation Guide and organizer of ‘Peter Benchley Ocean Awards’ and ‘Blue Vision’ Summits for ocean activists. He has worked as a war correspondent in Northern Ireland and Central America, covered a range of issues from military science to the AIDS epidemic, and reported from every continent including Antarctica. An award-winning journalist, he produced more than 40 broadcast documentaries for PBS, The Discovery Channel, and others. His print work has appeared in publications including The New York Times, LA Times, Smithsonian, Sierra, and Parade. He’s done radio work for Marketplace, AP radio, and Pacifica. He has led workshops for journalists in Poland, Turkey, Tunisia, Slovakia and Washington DC. David is a licensed Private Investigator, body-surfer and scuba diver.

Here are David’s answers to his chosen questions:

What is the last thing you bought that you shouldn’t have?
A 12-pack of Coke.

What is your favorite Sunday breakfast?
Huevos Rancheros, fresh OJ and the Sunday New York Times, ideally on a porch with friends and a water view.

Are you a night owl or a morning person?
Can’t say I really give a hoot but neither do I wake up with a smile on my face.

What is your favorite room in your home?
My home office – just a 10 second commute from the bedroom.  If you work hard you get to play hard. 

What is your favorite scent?
The iodine and slightly kelpy odor of a living sea.

What is your favorite sundae topping?
Anchovies.  Only kidding.  Chopped nuts, chocolate syrup, whipped cream, it’s all good.

What is your favorite pastime?
Bodysurfing, diving, or snorkeling depending on conditions.

What three things would you take with you to an island?
Dive gear, my girlfriend and a boat.

How superstitious are you?
I believe in evolution and anthropogenic climate change so not very but I have given the occasional agnostic prayer for friends and loved ones in trouble.

What is your favorite day of the week?
Whatever day of the week I’m on a beach.

Are you a cat person, dog person, or neither?
Thought I was a dog person till I ended up in a 20-year relationship with a tabby named Poose, the finest small furry predator I’ve ever known or am likely to.

If you were a geometric shape, what would you like to be?
Elliptical.

Thanks to David for playing along and I hope you’re relaxing on the beach enjoying an ice cream sundae with plenty of chopped nuts, chocolate syrup, and whipped cream somewhere. To the dear rest of you, please keep an eye out for more to come from other amazing ocean conservationists this summer and please don’t forget to participate in the Summer Sustainability Creativity Challenge!

It’s on: Summer Sustainability Creativity Challenge!

Summer is here and what better time of year to show your devotion to the ocean with some fun and creativity? Inspired by 1) the trio of huge fish made from plastic bottles constructed as a display during the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development this past month and 2) my new found skill at fusing plastic I am calling upon all readers and friends of readers to create some art (functional or not) with items they would otherwise toss. Why not start a collection of bottle caps or soda tabs to create a sign for your favorite band or music act? Start creating a pile of cardboard and make an homage to your favorite animal, brand, or company just like artist Mark Langan. These submissions can also be useful for around the house. Why not upcycle glass baby food jars for storage? I’ve got my own projects in the works and will share later this summer.

This contest is set up to demonstrate that anyone, anywhere can make an impact on saving the ocean. That’s right, even if you’re a Minnesota-ite (or is it Minnesotian?) everything that goes into your watershed will end up in the sea. This contest is also set up to help build awareness as to how much waste we produce that we could otherwise reuse. Who knows, maybe this contest can be practice for when you someday build an entire home out of shipping containers?

Rules and regulations

  1. Each entry should be photographed and emailed to info@beachchairscientist.com no later than midnight EDT on August 17, 2012 (please limit to 4 images at 300 dpi).
  2. All images sent will be property of Beach Chair Scientist.
  3. Each entry should be accompanied with a brief statement including 1) names and ages of the artists, 2) what type(s) of how much of each material(s) were used, 3) any other material(s) used, 4) collection process for gathering material(s), 5) intend of the piece, and 6) favorite anecdote from the while creating the entry for the Summer Sustainability Creativity Challenge. This statement should not exceed 500 words.
  4. Entry can be submitted by any one person or organization. The winner will be notified to the email address that submitted the entry on August 31, 2012.
  5. This year there will be three top entries chosen by a group of three remarkable individuals (1 teacher and 2 non-formal science educators that will be introduced later this summer). Their judging will be based on four overall factors: creativity and originality, message and intent, collection process, and lessons learned. On August 24, 2012 these entries will be announced and we’ll launch into an audience participation vote when the voting will close at midnight EDT on August 30, 2012. The winner will be announced August 31, 2012.

Prize package

  1. (1) Beach Chair Scientist t-shirt (winner’s preference)
  2. (1) Marine science learning packet (coloring book, learning pages, stickers, etc.)
  3. (1) $50.00 gift certificate to your favorite store on Etsy
  4. (1) Autographed hardcopy edition of Josie Iselin’s Beach: A Book of Treasure
  5. (1) David Helvarg’s 50 Ways to Save the Ocean (hardcover or e-book, winner’s preference)
  6. The honor and prestige of being the first winner of the Summer Sustainability Creativity Challenge!
  7. The top 10 entries will be featured in a video posted on August 31, 2012

If you or your organization would like to co-sponsor this contest please contact info@beachchairscientist.com. Please do not hesitate to contact info@beachchairscientist.com with any additional questions or comments.

What’s your favorite marine mascot?

We took our daughter to her first major league baseball game this weekend. I will never forget her cheery face when she’d point at the bright orange and black cartoon Orioles on fan’s shirts and say, “buuurrd?” The Phillies lost so it wasn’t the best experience we could have hoped for at Camden Yards, but overall my little family had an enjoyable time (also, impressive despite the 90 degree weather).

Needless to say, the day got me thinking about marine-themed mascots for major league sports in the U.S. This is a list of 9 marine mascots that might inspire your little marine biologists to follow baseball, hockey, or football or conversely that could get your little sports fan into science. I suppose if you’re a teacher, these mascots are also useful teaching tools to introduce different biological units (Ok, I am not certain what lesson you’d ever need Raymond the Seadog to introduce).

  1. T.D. the Dolphin (Miami Dolphins – NFL)
  2. Blitz the Seahawk (Seattle Seahawks – NFL)
  3. Lou Seal (San Francisco Giants – MLB)
  4. Iceburgh the Penguin (Pittsburgh Penguins – NHL)
  5. Fin the Whale (Vancouver Canucks – NHL)
  6. Raymond the Seadog (Tampa Bay Rays – MLB)
  7. Billy the Marlin (Miami Marlins – MLB)
  8. S.J. Sharkie (San Jose Sharks – NHL)
  9. Al the Octopus (Detroit Redwings – NHL)

From what I uncovered, the national basketball association is void of ocean animals as mascots. Please feel free to comment if you can think of another or just let me know if you have a favorite. Lastly, does anyone know where the Phillie Phanatic is originally from?

What is your favorite ocean-themed children’s book?

Summer is unofficially here and with that comes trips to the beach! To keep the theme going at home I am on a mission to discover new ocean-themed books to share with my little one. I compiled this list after some research and from your feedback on Facebook and Twitter. Please share by commenting below if you have a new book to add to the list. Also, scroll down and fill out the survey to share which one(s) are your favorite.

‘The Serpent Came to Gloucester’ by M.T. Anderson: (Ages 6 and up) Drawing on a true story, an award-winning author and illustrator present a picture-book tribute to the beauty and mystery of the ocean, and to the mesmerizing creatures that may frolic there.

‘Commotion in the Ocean’ by Gil Andreae: (Ages 3 and up)  The sequel to the best-selling “Rumble in the Jungle”, this delightful new collection of poems includes fun rhymes about the creatures who live in and around the ocean. Children will delight in the snappy poems and colorful illustrations about whales, walruses, penguins, polar bears, stingrays and sharks.

‘Over in the Ocean: In a Coral Reef’ by Marianne Berkes: (Ages 3 and up) This coral reef is a marine nursery, teeming with parents and babies! In the age-old way of kids and fish, children will count and sing to the rhythm of “Over in the Meadow” while pufferfish “puff,” gruntfish “grunt” and seahorses “flutter.”

A House for Hermit Crab‘ by Eric Carle: (Ages 5 and up) His modern-day fable is both wise and simple; based on the true habits of the hermit crab, it not only introduces young readers to the wonder and beauty of the marine environment but also contains an encouraging message for small children facing the inevitable challenges of growing up.

‘Mister Seahorse’ by Eric Carle: (Ages 2 and up) When Mrs. Seahorse lays her eggs, she does it on Mr. Seahorse’s belly! She knows he will take good care of them. While he swims waiting for the eggs to hatch, he meets some other underwater fathers caring for their babies: Mr. Tilapia, who carries his babies in his mouth; Mr. Kurtus, who keeps his on his head; and Mr. Catfish, who is baby-sitting his young hatchlings.

‘The Magic School Bus on the Ocean Floor’ by Joanna Cole: (Ages 4 and up) When Ms. Frizzle drives the Magic School Bus full speed ahead into the ocean, the class takes a submarine expedition that’s anything but ordinary. With a well-meaning lifeguard in tow, the class takes a deep breath and learns about hot water vents, coral reefs, plant and animal life on the ocean floor, and more!

‘Abby’s Aquarium Adventure Series’ by Heidi de Maine: (Ages 5-10) Stories that teach about different types of fish and how to remember their names easily, it also shows the kids what an aquarist does in his/her job at the aquarium.

‘The Disappearing Island‘ by Corinne Demas: (Ages 6-10) Carrie wonders about the mysterious island that her grandmother plans to take her to on her ninth birthday, a place that is visible only at low tide and the rest of the time remains a secret beneath the waves.

Crab Moon‘ by Ruth Horowitz: (Ages 6-10) June’s full moon casts an atmospheric glow over Kiesler’s (Old Elm Speaks, 1998) soft-focus shore scenes in this brief consciousness raiser.

‘A Day in the Salt Marsh’ by Kevin Kurtz: (Ages 5 and up) Enjoy A Day in the Salt Marsh, one of the most dynamic habitats on earth. Fun-to-read, rhyming verse introduces readers to hourly changes in the marsh as the tide comes and goes.

Carry on Mr. Bowditch‘ by Jean Lee Latham: (Grades 2 – 6) The story of a boy who had the persistence to master navigation in the days when men sailed by “log, lead, and lookout,” and who authored The American Practical Navigator, “the sailor’s Bible.”

‘Swimmy’ by Leo Lionni: (Ages 4 and up) Deep in the sea there lives a happy school of little fish. Their watery world is full of wonders, but there is also danger, and the little fish are afraid to come out of hiding . . . until Swimmy comes along. Swimmy shows his friends how—with ingenuity and team work—they can overcome any danger.

The Coast Mappers‘ by Taylor Morrison: (Grades 2 – 6) In the mid-nineteenth century, little was known of the west coast and waterways. The ships that sailed those waters did so at a considerable risk, sometimes depending on only a school atlas to navigate and all too often crashing into the rocks.

‘The Young Man and the Sea‘ by W. R. Philbrick: (Ages 9 and up) Award winner Rodman Philbrick’s powerful middle-grade novel is a story of determination and survival–of a boy’s exhilirating encounter with a fish that first nearly kills him but then saves his life.

‘Beach Day’ by Karen Roosa: (Ages 4 and up) In this charming picture book, a cheerful family tumbles out of the car and onto the beach, ready for a perfect day.

‘Hello Ocean‘ by Pam Munoz Ryan: (Ages 4-7) This rhyming picture book about the pleasures of a day at the beach goes through the day while using the sense.

‘I’m the Biggest Thing in the Ocean’ by Kevin Sherry: (Ages 4-7) When a giant squid takes inventory of all of the creatures in the ocean, he realizes that he?s way bigger than most of them! Of course, there are bigger things lurking around . . . but maybe this giant squid with a giant touch of hubris doesn’t really care?

‘The Suzanne Tate Nature Series‘ by Suzanne Tate: (Preschool – 4th grade) Suzanne Tate’s Nature Series is a unique series of 34 books about marine life. Teaching guides are available for books 1 through 28. In each colorfully illustrated book for early childhood (Pre-K-4), biologically accurate information is combined with an exciting story line. The books also promote self-esteem and environmental awareness.

The Boathouse Buddies Series’ by Karen Thomason and Ilene Baskette: (Grade 2 – 6) The Boat House Buddies deals with the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in a series of ten books.

‘Far From Shore: Chronicles of an Open Ocean Voyage‘ by Sophie Webb: (Ages 9 and up) In extremely deep waters (two miles deep), the vast sea appears empty. But as naturalist and artist Sophie Webb shows us, it is full of fascinating—yet difficult to study—life. Together with her shipmates, Sophie counts and collects samples of life in the deep ocean, from seabirds to dolphins, from winged fish to whales.

‘Flotsam’ by David Wiesner: (Ages 4 and up) A bright, science-minded boy goes to the beach equipped to collect and examine flotsam–anything floating that has been washed ashore.

‘The Seashore Book‘ by Charlotte Zolotow: (Ages 3 and up) A young boy, who has never seen the sea, asks his mother to describe it. From there, Zolotow carefully chooses her words to create a poem full of the colors, sounds, and sights of a day at the beach.

The summaries and book covers can be attributed to the link associated with the title of the book.

Which book(s) are your favorite?

Shadowbox of seashore treasures

Today I am very excited to share with you an image created by one of my favorite photographers, Bekki Rich. She is based in Stone Harbor, N.J. (Cape May County) and enjoys “”Taking photos when the opportunity arises”. Many of her photographs feature playful patterns found along the coastline, as well as showcase her unique perspective of maritime mementos. The image below is one I was particularly drawn to because it encapsulates how Bekki collects and cherishes ocean muses wherever possible. For instance, in a cubbyhole in the shadowbox below (not in the shot) she tore a tiny piece of cardboard off a random soapbox because it had a poem she found inspiring. The poem reads:

“A childhood stroll along the beach,

The early-morning waves wash objects

Filled with history onto the sand.

Memory retains the morning light bathed in the air of the open seas

An immense calm descends”.

Author Unknown

Check out more of Bekki’s work here. I’ve also added her to my “Design | Beach Meditation” Pinterest board.

Blue Sway – Paul McCartney

Surfrider Foundation recently released a new PSA by filmmaker Jack McCoy with a previously unreleased song, Blue Sway, by Paul McCartney. The song has been released on his McCartney II which was distributed by MPL and Concord Music Group on June 14. If you like this song you should also check out McCartney’s (aka The Fireman) Electric Arguments album (Sing the Changes and Lifelong Passions are my favorite!).

The footage from the PSA was taken from a Deeper Shade of Blue. Director Jack McCoy used a high-powered underwater jet ski to travel behind waves to create mystical and majestic images.

I appreciated that it was not a PSA with an overtly in-your-face message. I think it will speak to each and everyone in a unique way and I look forward to your thoughts! Enjoy!