The Beacon

Blog Tags: Marine Debris

Ocean Roundup: Oceans Get a “D’ for Ocean Health, Beluga Whale Population Faces “Catastrophe,” and More

Beluga whales are declining in the St. Lawrence River

A beluga whale (Delphinapterus leucas). Beluga whales in the St. Lawrence River are declining. (Photo: Ansgar Walk / Wikimedia Commons) 

- The Ocean Health Index’s third annual ocean evaluation gave ocean health a “D,” or 67 out of 100. The researchers cite overfishing, pollution, climate change, and poor ocean protections as factors leading to the score, though they say many people expected the score to be worse. 


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Ocean Roundup: Sand Tiger Shark Embryos Found to Eat Each Other, Wind Turbines Could Weaken Hurricane Intensity, and More

Sand tiger shark embryos engage in cannibalism

A sand tiger shark. Sand tiger shark embryos engage in cannibalism. (Photo: Mark Turner / Flickr Creative Commons)

- New research shows that young sea stars (Asterias rubens) in the Baltic Sea are more vulnerable to the effects of ocean acidification than adults. The scientists found that young sea stars grew slower and ate less under more acidic conditions. Science World Report


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Photos: On International Coastal Cleanup Day, Five Ways to Help the Oceans

International Coastal Cleanup day is on September 20

Oceana in Belize picking up trash on World Oceans Day this past summer. (Photo: Alexander Ellis / Oceana in Belize)

Marine debris has become a major issue facing the oceans today. It’s estimated that 10 to 20 million tons of plastic trash make their way to the ocean each year through a number of pathways, like litter, runoff, and direct dumping. In a recent study, scientists found plastic debris in 88 percent of ocean surface water samples.


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Global Issue of Marine Plastics is Gathering Significant Media Attention

Green sea turtle (Chelonia mydas) nearing a plastic bag

Green sea turtle (Chelonia mydas) nearing a plastic bag. (Photo: Flickr Creative Commons / Bag Monster) 

From the straws in your fountain drink to the soles of our shoes, plastics are a part of our daily lives, and we’re surrounded by them without often realizing it. Unfortunately, as plastic waste makes its way from our households to our oceans, fish and other marine organisms are not only surrounded by plastics too, but ingesting it.


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Arctic Ice Melt Could Unlock Trillions of Frozen Microplastics

Marine debris in the Arctic

Marine debris in Norway. (Photo: Bo Eide / Flickr Creative Commons)

Out of the nearly 300 million tons of plastic created in 2012, nearly 10 percent of it ended up in oceans, according to Phys.org. That trash has to go somewhere — washing onto coastlines and estuaries, or floating in the vast ocean. You may have heard of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, an area within the North Pacific Subtropical Gyre where an enormous amount of trash circulates.


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And the 2012 Ocean Heroes Are…

oceanheroes_winners

James Hemphill and Captain Don Voss, our 2012 Ocean Heroes

You’ve been waiting with bated breath to find out who this year’s Ocean Heroes are, and the time has finally come to announce our winners!

We received over 400 fantastic nominations this year, and narrowed it down to six adult finalists and five junior finalists. Thousands of your votes determined the winners, and we’re excited to announce that our adult Ocean Hero is Captain Don Voss and our Junior Ocean Hero is James Hemphill.

Captain Don Voss, from Fort Pierce, Florida, is the owner of the Marine Cleanup Initiative Inc., a debris collection organization that cleans up Florida’s waterways. Over the last 11 years, the company has grown from six volunteers to over 400, who have collectively removed over 300,000 pounds of marine debris. Don started SCUBA diving as a form of therapy after he was wounded in Vietnam, and his love for the ocean motivated him to help clean up the waterways that he loved to dive in.

Don was thrilled to hear that he had won, and is excited for the future of his work.

“I’m 64 now and keep thinking I’ll go back to recreational diving, but every time I go back in the water I find myself picking up debris. People need to understand that this is an ecosystem and that every one thing affects the next thing… What I’ve learned from my grandchildren, if you want an adult to stop doing something, you tell the kids. I’m hoping is that I can get more kids involved with diving, I can get less debris in the water and the water quality improves.”

And if there’s any kid who’s involved with getting debris out of the water, it’s our Junior Ocean Hero, James Hemphill. At 15 years old, James has already been working in ocean conservation for several years. He’s the president of Project Green Teens, a student-run environmental group that promotes conservation in Virginia Beach. They have removed 2,300 pounds of trash from Virginia waterways, and are currently working on a plastic bag ban in Virginia Beach.

James wants kids his age to know that getting involved in conservation is easy, and you can make a big difference by making some changes in your lifestyle.

“Start out with the little creeks that run into the ocean and start small where you can physically see the results. Get a group of friends that are interested and experiment. There’s no such thing as failure… it’s just a matter of how much effort you’re willing to put into it.”

Congratulations to Don and James, and all of our amazing finalists!

Thanks to our corporate sponsors at Nautica and Revo Sunglasses for helping make the Ocean Heroes Awards possible. Our winners will receive a prize package that includes a $500 gift card to Nautica and a pair of Revo sunglasses, made with a 100% recycled frame and polarized lenses, perfect for spending days out on the water.


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California Could Trash Plastic Bags for Good

Nothing we use for five minutes should pollute our oceans for 500 years.

That’s the message in a new PSA about the plastic bag bill that’s coming up for a vote this August in California. If it passes, California will be the first state with a state-wide ban on plastic bags.

Watch the video, which came to us from our friend Adrian Grenier and his website, SHFT.com, and let’s hope the bill passes.

 


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Ocean Hero Finalists: Sara Bayles

sara bayles

Image courtesy Sara Bayles.

This is the fifth in a series of posts about this year’s Ocean Hero finalists.

Today’s featured finalist, Sara Bayles, is the author of The Daily Ocean blog, which documents her experiment to see how much debris she can collect from her local beach in 365 non-consecutive days.

For 20 minutes at a time she has removed more than 450 pounds of trash from a beach in Santa Monica in just over 110 days. On The Daily Ocean, Sara exposes our dependence on single-use plastic while challenging her readers to make small shifts in their own lives.


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Save the Oceans, Trash Your Friends

We received an e-mail this morning from our friend J. Nichols:

"Dude, I just totally trashed the Oceana website: You can see the mess here:  http://bit.ly/9nTUhz"

Very funny, J -- and Happy April Fool’s Day.

It may be a fun prank from Heal the Bay, but plastic pollution in the oceans is no joke. Our oceans are drowning in debris and plastic bags are a major culprit. Cities and countries around the world have banned or placed fees on plastic bags, but more needs to be done.


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