It's World Oceans Day, so what better time to take a moment to think about doing your part to help protect our water planet?
Donâ€™t worry, you donâ€™t have to be a Peter Wallerstein or a Sophi Bromenshenkel to be an everyday ocean hero. This summer, weâ€™re asking everyone to take small steps in their lives to help the oceans. Those little things all add up to heroic efforts.
When you pledge to be an ocean hero with us, you can choose between three options -- clean up your local waterway, eat sustainable seafood or recycle. Hereâ€™s the skinny:
1. Clean up your local beach or waterway.
Thereâ€™s a lot of litter on beaches and riverbanks, and much of it could end up in a sea turtle or sea birdâ€™s stomach, or in the Pacific gyre. Picking up garbage on the beach is an easy way to help the oceans.
Extra credit: Take pictures of your clean-up on your iPhone and post them to Instagram. Make sure to tag your photos #ocean and check www.oceana.org/heroes to see what other ocean heroes are up to this summer.
Double extra credit: While youâ€™re cleaning up, support Oceanaâ€™s cause by wearing Nauticaâ€™s World Oceans Day t-shirt, made from 100 percent organic cotton. The proceeds will benefit our work to protect and restore the worldâ€™s oceans.
2. Eat sustainable seafood.
Use the Monterey Bay Aquariumâ€™s Seafood Watch guide at the seafood counter or restaurant to make smart and sustainable seafood choices.
Extra credit: Check out our sustainable seafood guides on Foodspotting. The next time youâ€™re eating fish at a restaurant, share pictures from your smart phone on Foodspotting and let others know where they should (and shouldnâ€™t!) go for seafood.
Double extra credit: Check out â€śFor Cod and Country,â€ť a guide to casual, sustainable cuisine by acclaimed Washington DC chef and National Geographic Fellow Barton Seaver.
3. Reuse and recycle.
Take a hint from junior ocean hero finalist Wyatt Workman and donâ€™t be a trash monster â€“ reuse as much as possible, and when you canâ€™t, recycle.
Extra credit: Nix bottled water and get the Oceana water bottle from Nautica. (I have one and itâ€™s the best water bottle Iâ€™ve ever owned, hands down.)
Double extra credit: Check out sunglasses from Revoâ€™s Eco Collection; theyâ€™re made from Revo Re-Useâ„˘, a frame material made from 100 percent recycled pre-consumer polymer resins.
Have you taken the pledge yet? Donâ€™t forget to share it on Facebook and Twitter. Got any other ideas for how to make a difference for the oceans this summer? Let us know in the comments. And thanks to the hundreds of you who have already pledged!
Happy World Oceans Day, everyone!
Whether youâ€™re on the coast today or not, we hope you pause to recognize the beauty and bounty of the oceans. Starting today, we're asking all of you to take a pledge to protect the world's oceans -- but more on that later.
And now to the juicy stuff: this yearâ€™s Ocean Heroes!
More than 500 ocean activists were nominated, 12 were selected as finalists, and more than 12,000 of you voted. The results? This yearâ€™s adult ocean hero is Peter Wallerstein and the junior ocean hero is Sophi Bromenshenkel!
Peter Wallerstein is the program director at Marine Animal Rescue, a project of Friends of Animals, where he has spent the last 25 years rescuing marine mammal in Los Angeles County. He has personally rescued 3,000 marine mammals throughout his career, and also established a team of professional responders that humanely rescues hundreds of animals a year, including whales, dolphins, sea lions and seabirds.
Fittingly, Peter was out helping a stranded California sea lion when I called to give him the good news.
This is the fifth in a series of posts about this yearâ€™s Ocean Hero finalists.
Maria Dâ€™Orsogna is a physics and math professor in California, but in her spare time, she has been fighting offshore drilling in Italy, where she spent 10 years of her childhood. She has even earned the nickname â€śErin Brockovich of Abruzzoâ€ť for her efforts to rally the public and officials to end drilling in the region.
Abruzzo, which may be familiar to you from Montepulciano dâ€™Abruzzo wine (a bottle of which I have sitting at home), is a primarily agricultural region east of Rome. The Adriatic Sea is nearby, along with a marine reserve (Torre del Cerrano), a Coastal National Park (Parco Nazionale della Costa Teatina) and several regional reserves, such as Punta Aderci, where dolphins are often spotted.
Mariaâ€™s activism started in 2007, when she discovered that the oil company ENI planned to drill in the coastal town of Ortona, Abruzzo. The company would uproot century-old wineries to build a refinery and a 7km pipeline to the sea.
Maria reports that there was very little information about the industryâ€™s drilling plans, nor analysis on what it could mean for the regionâ€™s agriculture or fishing industries. At the time, Italy had no laws regulating offshore drilling.
While fighting the onshore refinery, which was ultimately defeated, Maria said via e-mail, â€śthe attack on the sea began. I had to get involved.â€ť
This is the fourth in a series of posts about this yearâ€™s Ocean Hero finalists.
For more than two decades, Peter Wallerstein has been rescuing marine animals on the coast of California.
In 1985 he founded the Whale Rescue Team, which is now part of Marine Animal Rescue (MAR), a project of Friends of Animals. Peter started a 24-hour hotline for citizens to report stranded or injured marine mammals, and he has personally rescued more than 4,000 marine mammals and birds in Southern California, from stranded dolphins to whales tangled in gillnets.
Thanks to Peterâ€™s persistence, Los Angeles County now has the only professional marine mammal rescue team in the U.S. that conducts hundreds of rescues each year, working 24/7 if needed. In April he conducted 86 marine mammal rescues, 120 for the year so far.
Now Peter is working to address the lack of adequate care facilities for marine mammals. After a decade of work, the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) has authorized MAR to design, construct and operate a second marine mammal care facility in Los Angeles County.
This is the third in a series of posts about this yearâ€™s Ocean Hero finalists.
The featured finalist today is Zander Srodes, who, at age 11, created â€śTurtle Talks,â€ť an interactive workshop and activity book that teaches kids about sea turtle conservation.
Ten years later, more than 200,000 of Zanderâ€™s â€śTurtle Talksâ€ť books have been printed and sent to six continents, from Cuba to Mozambique, and it has been translated into several languages, including Tamil and Telugu.
â€śI hope [Turtle Talks] will have a significant impact of the biodiversity of our planet,â€ť Zander said via e-mail. â€śTurtle Talks promotes the message to youngsters that they are the generation that needs to become advocates for these charismatic reptiles.â€ť
Recently Zander has expanded his sea turtle conservation efforts through eco-tourism. Last summer he hosted two groups of college students on service trips to Costa Rica, where they worked with local organizations that are preserving leatherback sea turtles.
This is the second in a series of posts about this yearâ€™s Ocean Hero finalists.
Todayâ€™s featured finalist is Nancy Caruso, who was selected for her work to protect giant kelp forests in California. Nancy was inspired to become a marine biologist at age 10, and she has been involved in ocean conservation ever since.
After working on the Orange County Giant Kelp Restoration Project, Nancy started her own non-profit organization, Get Inspired!, which teaches students to grow giant kelp in classroom nurseries. Over the last nine years, Nancy has taught 4000 students to grow giant kelp, which is then planted in the ocean by the 250 volunteer scuba divers that she trained. In addition, this year Nancy started the only program in California to restock green abalone and white sea bass, also in classroom nurseries.
In 2010 Nancy started Kelpfest!, an annual festival with a mission to celebrate giant kelp forests. Thousands turned out in April for the second annual event in Laguna Beach, which included live music, a live underwater broadcast from the kelp forest just offshore, and a scale model of a kelp forest for people to walk through.
Itâ€™s the most wonderful time of the year - time to vote for this yearâ€™s Ocean Heroes! The contest is back for the third year and the nominees are more inspiring than ever.
After carefully reviewing more than 500 excellent nominations (thanks to all the nominators!), our expert panel selected a group of six adult finalists and six junior finalists from around the country.
Weâ€™re really excited about this yearâ€™s crop of finalists, which include an inner-city scuba teacher, a deep-sea engineer, a young artist, plus shark, sea turtle and anti-oil drilling activists, and thatâ€™s just a start -- you wonâ€™t be disappointed by their stories.
The winners will be announced on June 8th, World Oceans Day, and will receive a prize package that includes great gifts from our corporate sponsors: a gift card from Nautica, a pair of Revo polarized sunglasses and a copy of For Cod & Country, the new guide to sustainable seafood from acclaimed Washington D.C. chef Barton Seaver.
You can vote for your favorite heroes in both the adult and junior categories until May 31. After voting, please help us spread the word by sharing on Facebook and Twitter!
Sara Bayles is the author of The Daily Ocean blog, where she documents her efforts to collect trash from her local beach for 365 non-consecutive days.
Now Sara and her husband, Dr. Garen Baghdasarian, have embarked on a new and exciting adventure. They are currently at sea on a 4,680-mile research expedition The 5 Gyres Institute across the South Pacific from Chile to Tahiti. Itâ€™s the worldâ€™s first expedition to study plastic pollution in the South Pacific gyre.
After the trip, Sara and Garen plan to bring their findings to as many people as possible through articles in peer reviewed scientific journals, lectures in the community, school visits, student involvement, photography, video and follow-up research expeditions.
In other news, Sara and Siel of Green LA Girl organized The Blogger Beach Cleanup last year for 350.orgâ€™s International Day Of Climate Action. More than 120 volunteers, 40+ bloggers, and several non-profit groups participated to make the event a success.
Good luck to Sara and Garen on a safe and successful journey and we look forward to hearing the results of the trip! You can follow their progress at the 5Gyres blog.
Nominations end this Wednesday, so donâ€™t delay -- nominate an ocean hero in your life today!
We are now accepting nominations for our third annual Ocean Heroes Contest! Today weâ€™re catching up with one of our favorites, sea turtle activist Casey Sokolovic.
Casey might look familiar - we canâ€™t get enough of her ever since she was a nominee in the first annual Ocean Heroes contest in 2009. Sheâ€™s now 13, but her parents say she still isnâ€™t allowed to have a cell phone. Judging by all of her activities, she probably doesnâ€™t have time to chat on the phone anywayâ€¦
Last year she had an internship at the Karen Beasley Sea Turtle Rescue and Rehabilitation Center on Topsail Island, NC. She helped with the care of the injured turtles and video blogged her experiences at her website, loveaseaturtle.com.
Thatâ€™s not all. Sheâ€™s also busy giving school presentations about sea turtles, and participating at camps with Boys and Girls Clubs in North Carolina. She says she really wants to inspire other kids to help, too.
We are, as ever, inspired by Caseyâ€™s dedication to sea turtles. Thanks, Casey!
Nominations end April 27, so donâ€™t delay -- nominate an ocean hero in your life today!
We are now accepting nominations for our third annual Ocean Heroes Contest! Today weâ€™re featuring a guest post by 2009 finalist Emily Goldstein about her summer trip to the OrcaLab in British Columbia.
Last summer I was privileged to be able to spend eight weeks studying one of the most remarkable species in our world, the orca. I want to share with you the amazing journey I had, and tell you about my time with the orcas.
Snuggled in the inside passage between British Columbia and Vancouver Island, there is a small isle called Hanson Island. This is the home of magnificent bald eagles, playful mink, and an emerald-green evergreen forest. It is also the home of a land-based research station called OrcaLab, which was founded by Dr. Paul Spong in 1970.