The Beacon

Where Are They Now?: Ocean Hero Jay Holcomb

Jay Holcomb with a pelican patient.

We are now accepting nominations for our third annual Ocean Heroes Contest! Throughout the nomination period, which ends April 27, I’ll be featuring a few of the past winners and finalists to get you inspired. Last week I updated you on last year’s Junior Ocean Heroes, the Shark Finatics. Today we’re catching up with the 2010 Adult Ocean Hero, Jay Holcomb.

Jay Holcomb garnered the most votes in the Adult category last year for his quarter-century of work rehabilitating oiled seabirds around the world with the International Bird Rescue Research Center (IBRRC). In fact, when we announced his big win, Jay was on the Gulf Coast leading the effort to clean up oiled birds from the Deepwater Horizon spill.

Since then, the organization has re-grouped. They are still rescuing birds on a daily basis from their home base in California, but Jay’s role has changed. He has stepped down as executive director and colleague Paul Kelway has stepped up. Jay is now the Director Emeritus, which gives him more time to focus on his passion: saving birds.


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Washington State Passes Shark Fin Trade Ban

Great news from the Evergreen State: Washington State’s legislature has passed a bill banning the illegal trade of shark fins, an extraordinary step toward shark conservation on the U.S. Pacific coast. The legislation now goes to the governor’s desk to be signed into law.

While shark finning is illegal in the U.S., current federal laws banning shark finning do not address the issue of the shark fin trade. As a result, fins are being imported to the U.S. from countries with limited to zero shark protections in place. Similar legislation passed recently in Hawaii and is pending in Oregon and California.

“This legislation is an excellent example of a state taking action to address a global problem,” said Whit Sheard, Senior Advisor and Pacific Counsel for Oceana. “This bill will help us move closer to ending the wasteful and unnecessary depletion of our ocean’s top predators.”


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Christie’s Green Auction Raises $1.4 Million (So Far)

The Runway to Green fashion show. Photos © Oceana/John Dee

Last Tuesday evening, the live component of Christie’s Green Auction raised $1.4 million to benefit four environmental organizations: Oceana, Conservation International, Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) and The Central Park Conservancy. But it’s not quite over -- the online auction is still accepting bids until tomorrow.

The glamorous event was co-hosted by David and Susan Rockefeller, Graydon and Anna Carter and Salma Hayek and François-Henri Pinault. Attendees included Anna Wintour, David Rockefeller Sr., Diane Kruger, Zoe Kravitz, Alexander Wang, Sam Waterson, Ted Danson and Michael Kors, among many others.

Saturday Night Live’s Seth Meyers emceed the auction and even helped officiate amid witty repartee with Lydia Fenet, Christie’s Director of Strategic Partnerships. Top lots included a Hollywood experience during the Oscars and a day shadowing President Bill Clinton — each raised $100,000.

After the auction, models strutted down the catwalk in a fashion show that debuted exclusive items by top designers for a “Runway to Green Collection”. Pieces from the collection are available for purchase on Net-A-Porter.com, and will be available in stores this fall. The finale of the evening was a surprise performance by Nicki Minaj, who sang several numbers wearing a fittingly half-green bride of Frankenstein wig.


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Oceana Proposes a Canary Islands MPA

Last week, in a culmination of several years of work, our European colleagues presented a proposal to protect 15% of the marine area around Spain’s Canary Islands. If the proposal is accepted, it would multiply the current protected area by 100.

Here’s the back story: In 2009 the Oceana Ranger, our research catamaran, sailed to the Canaries, which are off the coast of Morocco. Over the course of two months, the crew documented the seamounts and seabeds of the archipelago, and found a dozen species never before seen in the area, and filmed many rare species, including three-foot-tall glass sponges, Venus fly-trap anemones and lollipop sponges. (For more on the Canaries see this piece from our magazine last winter.)

The protected area would harbor many other threatened species in the area, such as sea turtles, deep-sea sharks, seahorses, the giant grouper, blue and right whales and the white gorgonian.


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Chilean Supreme Court Rules in Favor of Oceana

The good news just keep coming in Chile. Yesterday the Chilean Supreme Court ruled against a lawsuit filed by the laboratory Veterquímica to prevent the Livestock and Agriculture Bureau (SAG) from disclosing information to Oceana.

The case began in 2009, when Oceana submitted a Freedom of Information Act request to SAG to access documents that the Bureau used to approve the use of quinolone-related antibiotics in Chile’s salmon farming industry. The SAG denied the information due to the opposition of the laboratories Veterquímica, Recalcine and Centrovet, the main suppliers of these chemicals in Chile. Now the SAG has until April 5th to disclose the documents that supported its decision to approve such antibiotics.


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Where Are They Now?: The Shark Finatics

A member of the Shark Finatics.

As you know, we are now accepting nominations for our third annual Ocean Heroes Contest. Throughout the nomination period, which ends April 27th, I’ll be featuring a few of the past winners and finalists to get you inspired. First up, the 2010 Junior Ocean Heroes: the Shark Finatics.

To jog your memory, the Shark Finatics are a group of students at Green Chimneys School in Brewster, New York who have raised more than $2,000 for shark research and conservation organizations around the world - and an immeasurable amount of awareness about shark finning.

The Finatics’ teacher Robin Culler recently wrote to us with an enthusiastic update about her students. They were recently featured in the Southeast Brewster Patch, and Culler says the “the kids were awesome and you couldn't get a word in edgewise! They were so thrilled to teach yet one more person about sharks.”


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Nominate an Ocean Hero Today!

The 2010 Junior Ocean Heroes, the Shark Finatics, with teacher Robin Culler.

It’s that time again: we are looking for ocean heroes, and we need your help. Nominations for our third annual Ocean Heroes Contest begin today, so think of the person you know doing the most for the oceans -- and maybe it’s yourself! -- and send us the deets.

Here’s how: To nominate someone, just visit www.oceana.org/heroes and complete the form. Past nominees have included educators, scientists, fundraisers, activists, and that’s just a start. And like last year, we have two categories: Adult and Junior (18 years old or younger).

This year’s Ocean Heroes will receive, in addition to a heap of praise and good ocean karma, a $500 gift card from Nautica and a pair of Revo Sunglasses. All finalists will receive a $100 Nautica gift card.

Nominations end April 27th, but the faster you can get them in the better. So nominate, nominate, nominate, and please, spread the word on Facebook, Twitter, e-mail and however else you know how!

We can’t wait to see all the great nominations come rolling in!


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Video: Lewis Pugh on Hydrofracking

Lewis Pugh is a British environmentalist, maritime lawyer and Oceana ally. He was the first person to complete a long distance swim in every ocean, and is probably best known for two impressive feats: his 2007 swim across the North Pole to highlight the melting of Arctic sea ice, and a swim across a glacial lake in the Himalayas 2010 to draw attention to the region’s melting glaciers.

Last week Pugh spoke in Cape Town, South Africa against Shell’s proposed fracking in the country. Fracking, short for hydraulic fracturing, is a method of extracting natural gas by pumping chemicals, sand, and water underground to break apart rock and release gas. (For more on the controversial practice of hydrofracking see Grist and the New York Times.)

While Oceana doesn’t have a campaign directly dealing with the practice of hydrofracking, we are certainly aligned with Pugh on his bottom line: it’s time to transition away from fossil fuels and toward clean energy. Here’s a clip of Pugh’s powerful speech:

 

Here in the U.S., we need your help to stop dirty energy, too. Please speak up by March 30 (tomorrow!) to prevent new offshore drilling for the next five years.


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Victory! 2nd Coal-Fired Power Plant Defeated in Chile

sea lions in chile

Sea lions in the waters off northern Chile. © Oceana/Eduardo Sorensen

For the second time in less than a year, Oceana has helped to defeat a coal-fired power plant on the coast of northern Chile. The CAP company announced last week that it was withdrawing its plans to construct the Cruz Grande thermoelectric power plant.

Cruz Grande was slated to be a 300-megawatt thermoelectric power plant in the region of La Higuera in Northern Chile, a few miles from the Choros-Damas and Chañaral island marine reserves, and near the Humboldt Penguin National Reserve, which is home to the world’s largest population of Humboldt penguins. The region also hosts communities of bottlenose dolphins, marine otters and many marine birds and mammals, including blue whales.

These creatures and habitats were at risk from the plant’s emissions, which would have arrived quickly to the reserves. The plant would have used the area’s seawater to cool the plant, discharging it back into the ocean at higher temperatures. Oil spills from ships carrying coal to the plants would seep there in a few hours, and the local currents would retain the pollution within the area. Plus, mercury emissions from the plants would contaminate fish and mollusks like the Chilean abalone, damaging a crucial local industry.


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Rhyme (or Not) for the Oceans

Okay, ocean lovers, it’s time to put your creativity caps on. We could win $10,000, but we need your help. Here’s the challenge, from the CTK Foundation’s Heart and Soul Grant Competition:

“Write an original poem or stanza that reflects the work or mission of your non-profit.”

The first place winner will receive $10,000 and will have their submission turned into a song to be used in public education or awareness.

We’re asking you to submit an original four-to-eight-line poem that reflects the work and/or mission of Oceana. If you are new to the organization, look around our website, especially at the About Us and Our Work sections. You can submit your creations in the comments section here, or via email, at [email protected]. We'll highlight the poem we pick here on the blog and Facebook.

Here’s a (really corny) example to get your creative juices flowing:

Our seas are sick, so here’s the deal

We work together to help them heal.

Oceana knows how to get things done

In our book, oceans are number one.

Around the world, we’re making strides

Because believe it or not, we can turn the tides.

Inspired yet? Send us your best verses by next Monday, March 28th, and thank you as always for your support and enthusiasm!


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