The Beacon

Blog Tags: Ocean Heroes

Guest Post: My Orca Summer

Orcas near Hanson Island. Photo courtesy of Emily Goldstein.

We are now accepting nominations for our third annual Ocean Heroes Contest! Today we’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. 


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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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Sailing Toward a Sea of Plastic

Dr. Garen Baghdasarian and Sara Bayles, a 2010 Ocean Hero finalist.

Earlier in the week we heard from 2009 Ocean Hero finalist Emily Goldstein, and today, a fun update on Sara Bayles, a 2010 finalist whose near-daily beach cleanup efforts are documented on her blog, The Daily Ocean.  

Now Sara and her husband, Dr. Garen Baghdasarian, have a new and exciting adventure on the horizon. This spring, the ocean conservation power couple will join The 5 Gyres Institute on a 4,680-mile research expedition across the South Pacific from Chile to Tahiti to study the effects of plastic micro-pollutants on plankton. They will, of course, be blogging the trip as they collect water samples and other crucial data.


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One Woman, One Beach, and One Year of Trash

Image via the Los Angeles Times

Earlier this week we heard the latest from one of our 2010 Ocean Heroes, Robin Culler, leader of the Shark Finatics.

Today, another update, this time from Ocean Hero finalist Sara Bayles. Sara was just featured in the Los Angeles Times for her ongoing effort to spend 20 minutes a day for 365 non-consecutive days collecting trash from her Santa Monica beach. She weighs the garbage and keeps a tally on her blog, The Daily Ocean.

We’re glad she’s getting the recognition she deserves. Kudos to you, Sara!

In addition to starting your own beach cleanup like Sara, you can take our pledge to use less plastic if you haven't already.

 


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Guest Post: One Shark Finatic Meets Another

President Johnson Toribiong of Palau and Robin Culler, teacher of the 2010 Ocean Heroes, The Shark Finatics.

Today I’m pleased to bring you a guest post from Robin Culler, teacher of the 2010 Junior Ocean Heroes, the Shark Finatics.

What a year this has been for the Shark Finatics! We are still basking in the glory of being named Junior Ocean Heroes and each week many more amazing things come our way.

This past Saturday, I was privileged to be invited to a dinner honoring Palau's President Johnson Toribiong. The prestigious Ocean Heritage Award was presented to the President by the Shark Research Institute in recognition of Palau's Shark Sanctuary.

A year ago, Palau, one of the world's smallest nations, created the first ever shark sanctuary. Commercial fishing of sharks is banned in Palau's territorial waters and its exclusive economic zone, covering 240,000 square miles. More than 130 species of sharks and stingrays, which are considered either endangered or vulnerable, find safe haven in this sanctuary.


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A Visit With Jay Holcomb And Some Oily Birds

brown pelicans yearning to be free

Brown pelicans awaiting release after being cleaned. Photo courtesy Suzannah's iphone.

In a cavernous warehouse in Louisiana’s bayou country, hundreds of oiled birds are getting a chance at survival after the BP oil disaster threatened their lives. Most of them are brown pelicans, Louisana’s state bird, along with some gulls, herons, gannets and terns. Until a couple of weeks ago, there weren’t many birds in this makeshift facility backed up against the Mississippi. But with the oil slick’s expansion closer to shore, the number of birds affected exploded – and the rescue center is racing to keep up.

The center is run by Jay Holcomb, and is primarily staffed by his International Bird Rescue Research Center team. Today, I visited Jay along with Oceana’s pollution campaign director Jackie Savitz, and got a firsthand look at the critical work that Jay and his team are doing.

We were also on hand to congratulate Jay on winning Oceana’s 2010 Ocean Heroes Award. He was unable to attend the award ceremony in Los Angeles a couple of weeks ago because he was too busy doing the work of an ocean hero – saving birds in the Gulf.

Here’s a video of Jackie talking to Jay about his work and what happens to the birds after they're released. You can hear the helicopters going out to the spill site overhead.


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How To Be An Ocean Hero On World Oceans Day

In case you forgot, tomorrow is World Oceans Day. Don’t live near the ocean, you say? Or don’t know how to express your gratitude to our blue marble? Not to worry. Here are a few ideas - feel free to add your own in the comments.

1. Sign the petition to stop offshore drilling. We’re trying to get 500,000 signatures this summer, and we have a long way to go, so pass it on via e-mail, Facebook, Twitter, bullhorn, carrier pigeon, sandwich board, etc. You can also do your own petition drive by gathering signatures with our printable petition, then mail them to us. And you can sign up to learn about oil spill volunteer opportunities in your area.

2. Pledge to help protect the oceans - whatever that may mean for you, whether it be using less plastic, cleaning up your local beach or contacting your representative about your pet ocean issue. For every pledge we receive, one dollar from an anonymous donor goes toward our efforts to protect the seven seas. And again, please pass it on! (See #1 for details).

3. Help us make sure another oil spill catastrophe like this doesn’t happen again. Text "OCEAN" to 50555 to make a $5 donation to Oceana. Or you can donate the old-fashioned way, online.

What are your plans this World Oceans Day? Let us know in the comments.


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Ocean Hero Finalists: Diana Gonzalez

diana gonzalez

This is the eleventh and final post in a series about this year’s Ocean Hero finalists.

Rounding out our Ocean Heroes finalist series is Diana Gonzalez, who became an ocean activist by accident -- and is making a big difference.

As a high school freshman last year, she was signed up for a marine science course, but decided she wanted to take choir instead. Her counselor said it wasn’t possible, so she kept the class.

She's been singing the ocean's praises ever since.


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Ocean Hero Finalists: Bonnie Lei

Bonnie Lei collecting specimens. (Image courtesy Bonnie Lei.)

This is the tenth in a series of posts about the 2010 Ocean Hero finalists.

Today’s featured finalist already has an impressive resume, and she’s still in high school.

For the past three years, high school junior Bonnie Lei has been conducting independent research on the population structure and evolutionary history of sea slugs to create a better understanding of biodiversity conservation in the Caribbean.

She has reclassified the tropical Spurilla genus, identified a possible new species, and she even presented her research at the international American Association for the Advancement of Sciences (AAAS) annual meetings in 2009 and 2010.

“With the escalating loss of marine species comes the loss of stability and productivity in entire ecosystems,” she wrote in an essay for us. “It will be impossible to protect these species unless a lucid picture of the distribution, genetic differences, and uniqueness of the populations today is provided.” 


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Ocean Hero Finalists: Carolyn Caggia

carolyn caggia

Carolyn Caggia with NC Rep. Jimmy Love and part of the 72 yard long scroll she created.

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

Today’s featured finalist is 16-year-old Carolyn Caggia, who is devoted to protecting sea turtles from gillnets in her home state of North Carolina.

Gillnet fisheries use hundreds of yards of fishing net that remain in the water for days or longer, ensnaring sea turtles and other species incidentally.

Carolyn was inspired to act after visiting Jean Beasley’s sea turtle hospital in Topsail Island, NC several years ago. She decided to undertake a grass roots advocacy effort to help save sea turtles as her Girl Scout Gold Award project.  


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