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State of the Ocean Heroes

oceanheromap

Has your state gone blue? It could — nominate an Ocean Hero!

Oceana’s 4th annual Ocean Heroes Contest kicks off June 6, which gives you one week to think about this question: “Who do I know that works hard for the oceans and deserves recognition?”

From work in activism to conservation, from education to rehabilitation, from sustainability to research, there are likely tens of thousands – if not hundreds of thousands – of people who’d make good nominees. This makes it difficult for Oceana’s selection committee to narrow down so many candidates to six youth and six adult finalists.

But do you want some clues on where good nominees live? Allow me to share some statistics collected over the previous three contests (and please note… this is a pretty small sample size):

State Where Most Finalists Live: California. Nearly 1/3 of Ocean Heroes Finalists reside in the Golden State.

Coastal States That Have Never Produced a Finalist: Washington, Oregon, Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, South Carolina, Virginia, Maryland, Connecticut, Rhode Island and New Hampshire. This probably has more to do with the small sample size rather than a lack of Ocean Heroes in these states, so nominate the Ocean Heroes near you — it's a matter of state pride.

Landlocked States That Have Produced Finalists: Kentucky, Minnesota, and Washington DC. The nearest ocean being 1000 miles away didn’t stop a shy Minnesota 8-year-old named Sophi Bromenshenkel from selling enough lemonade, hot chocolate and cookies to purchase satellite shark tags for the RJ Dunlap Marine Conservation Program at the University of Miami. And, by the way, this land-locked shark-lover won the junior vote and became our 2011 Junior Ocean Hero!

Remember, nominations begin on June 6!


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BP Spill Residue Found in Minnesota Pelican Eggs

pelicans

An American white pelican sits on her nest in Minnesota. [Image via Minnesota Public Radio]

The impacts of the Deepwater Horizon are being felt in -- you guessed it -- Minnesota.

White pelicans that winter in the Gulf of Mexico and have lived in an oiled Gulf have migrated to far away places such as Minnesota to lay eggs, and the contaminants inside them have traveled as well.

Preliminary testing by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources shows that petroleum compounds were present in 90 percent of the first batch of eggs tested and nearly 80 percent of the eggs contained the chemical dispersant used during the spill, called COREXIT.

The contamination of white pelican eggs is a bad sign for the developing embryos and potentially their populations. The researchers will be continuing to monitor impacts on the population for years to come, and the true impacts may not be realized for decades.

Mark Clark, a researcher helping with these studies, says, “Any contaminant that makes its way into the bird could be bad, but it could be especially bad if it gets into the egg because that's where the developing embryo and chick starts. And when things go wrong at that stage, there's usually no recovery."

The immediate loss of pelicans and other birds that were covered in oil during the spill was amazingly disheartening and graphic. But these types of sub-lethal impacts show how the next generation may be affected.

While these effects are less noticeable, they are even more concerning for the future of the population. Nearly half of all the bird species that live in the United States spend at least part of the winter in the Gulf of Mexico, and the health of the Gulf is globally significant for birds.

After the Exxon Valdez spill, more than 88% of the birds that were found dead were outside of Prince William Sound, the area immediately affected by the spill, and the number of dead birds found was only a fraction of the total killed by the spill.

The combination of those direct losses, poor reproductive success and changes in the habitat, has prevented some species from recovering, even 20 years later. Although we don’t yet know the long-term impacts of the Deepwater Horizon spill, these contaminants in eggs serve as a warning sign of things to come.

We need to make sure that BP and the other responsible parties are held accountable for the impacts of the Deepwater Horizon spill that have likely impacted hundreds to thousands of species.

Even more importantly we need to recognize that these contaminated eggs, and the ongoing damages to wildlife, are part of the overall problem with offshore drilling and spilling. We have much better options for energy, such as offshore wind, and we should use them.


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