The Beacon

Blog Tags: Plastic Pollution

If You Were President...

OH_president

We asked our Ocean Heroes finalists: If you were elected President, what would be the first thing on your agenda?

They gave us some pretty great answers, check them out below, and don’t forget to vote for your favorite finalist! Who knows, maybe one of our finalists will be running for President themselves someday.

Adults

Michele Hunter Stop the killing of all marine mammals throughout the entire world.

Hardy Jones Expose levels of pollution.

Kristofor Lofgren I would change our energy policy, because reducing carbon and oil and gas spills, creates a healthier and less acidic ocean.

Dave Rauschkolb End offshore oil drilling.

Rick Steiner An emergency effort in clean, sustainable energy, and energy conservation, to stop climate change and its devastating impacts on marine ecosystems.

Don Voss Appoint Sylvia Earle Secretary of World's Oceans and give her free reins to establish regulations as needed.

Juniors

Sara Brenes Ban all shark finning in US, no shark products to be sold, imported or exported, create an ocean world conservation summit to try and make a plan to end shark finning, whaling and overfishing and try to create peaceful and safe ocean pact.

The Calvineers Reinforce the Endangered Species Act, especially the Marine Mammal Act so that NOAA would be better funded and more efficient at protecting marine mammals from human made dangers.

Sam Harris No killing sharks on this earth ever!!!!

James Hemphill Ban the chemical BPA from plastics to reduce the human input of toxins in the ocean.

Teakahla WhiteCloud I would ban all long-line fishing and trawler fishing and make sure all ocean laws are strictly enforced and make all reef systems National Parks.

Only a few more days of voting are left, tell us your favorite finalists today at oceana.org/heroes!

Photo Credits (clockwise from top left): Oceana/Juan Cuentos, Oceana/Maria Jose Cortex, Oceana/Carlos Suarez, Kip Evans Photography, Oceana/Carlos Suarez, Oceana/Carlos Suarez, Oceana/LX, Oceana/Juan Cuentos, Oceana/LX, Oceana/Juan Cuentos, Oceana/Enrique Talledo.


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The Next Wave of Plastic Bag Bans

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Sea turtles often confuse plastic bags with jellyfish, which makes them sick.©Flickr/Bag Monster

In a sweeping 5-0 vote, the Carmel-by-the-Sea City Council took action yesterday evening to ban single-use plastic bags in the quaint and beautiful coastal city of Carmel-by-the-Sea, California.

Oceana, as part of the Central Coast Sanctuary Alliance of local businesses and conservation organizations, has been advocating to the Council for months to take action to rid this source of pollution in the area and today invite you to celebrate this victory with us. This rides on the heels of similar bans put in place by neighboring Monterey and dozens of other California cities and counties.

Several other cities around Monterey Bay are currently discussing banning single-use plastic bags as well. Oceana will continue the effort to eliminate these plastic bags across the Bay, ultimately moving toward the goal of a statewide ban.

California distributes 19 billion plastic bags per year, many which end up littering our beautiful rivers and beaches and causing undue harm to wildlife.


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Sperm Whales Prefer Squid to Plastic Bags

sperm whale

© Oceana/Juan Cuetos

Plastic is one of the most common pollutants that end up in the ocean, but the properties that make it ideal for shopping make it deadly to marine life.

Plastics are durable and do not decompose easily, which means they can stay in the ocean for decades. And because they are so lightweight, plastics can float in the ocean where sea turtles and marine birds can get entangled or even ingest them by mistake. For example, plastic bags in the ocean closely resemble jellyfish, which are a common food for sea turtles.

Plastic can also have serious effects on marine mammals, including sperm whales which are some of the world’s smartest animals – possessing the largest brain of any known species.

Sperm whales typically feed on squid, sometimes diving more than a mile below the ocean’s surface to find food. But plastic trash is becoming more and more a part of the whales’ diets. Each year, sperm whales eat more than 100 million tons of seafood using suction, which makes them more vulnerable to ingesting plastic. And because sperm whales are at the top of the food chain, they are the most likely to be affected by pollution.


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Plastic Bag Makers Sue ChicoBag

© Flickr user doviende.

ChicoBag is one of the most popular brands of reusable bags. Their totes are colorful and stylish, and they help us avoid the need to create more of the plastic waste that is clogging our rivers and streams and creating massive garbage patches in our oceans.

But in a low blow meant to drain green companies like Chico Bag of time and resources, a trio of plastic bag manufacturers is suing ChicoBag for exaggerating the dangers of plastic bags to the environment.

Although some of ChicoBag’s online statements about plastic bags were indeed outdated, the company quickly corrected the errors as soon as it was notified of them. But the plastic bag trio, which includes manufacturer Hilex Poly, had no interest in ceasing fire.


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Slideshow: NYC World Oceans Day Clean-up

How did you celebrate World Oceans Day? Oceana headed straight to the river. Teaming up with Nautica, we braved the heat and skimmed trash out of the Hudson River in an effort to protect both the river’s natural beauty and the health of its marine life.

What did we find? Fewer cigarette butts than you might think, but plenty of bags, bottle caps and other plastic debris – just the types of trash that are most dangerous to fish and other aquatic life that may end up ingesting or becoming entangled in the plastic.

If you missed World Oceans Day, don’t worry! You can still pledge to be an ocean hero throughout the summer by committing to cleaning up your local waterway, eating sustainable seafood, or recycling.


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Ocean Hero Finalists: Wyatt Workman

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

Today’s featured junior ocean hero finalist is eight-year-old Wyatt Workman, who may be familiar to some of you since we have written about his activism and artwork before.

But in case you don’t know Wyatt, he is quite a special young ocean lover. A talented artist, he has dedicated himself to getting the word out about the plastic pollution fouling our oceans. Through his artistic endeavors, including a book, clay figures, and a claymation movie, “Save the Sea from the Trash Monster!”, Wyatt has raised nearly $4,000 for Oceana.

In late 2010, more than 300 people attended Wyatt’s art show, where he sold out of all 70 art pieces he made. He now has a waiting list for his art and he gets about 10-20 people a day signing his website pledge to make changes in their lives to keep trash - particularly plastic - out of the ocean.  

He was also recently honored by the Pacific Aquarium in Long Beach, CA as their Young Hero of the Year, his book has been named "Book of the Month" by A&I Books in Los Angeles, and he has been featured in Time Magazine for Kids.

Whew! Impressive for an eight-year-old, huh?

Have you voted yet? Check out the other finalists, cast your vote and spread the word! And stay tuned for more spotlighted finalists in the coming days!

Special thanks to the sponsors of the Ocean Heroes Award for making all of this possible: Nautica, Revo and For Cod & Country, the new book by chef and National Geographic fellow Barton Seaver.


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Where Are They Now?: Sara Bayles

Nominations are still open for our third annual Ocean Heroes Contest! Today we’re catching up with 2010 finalist Sara Bayles.

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. It’s the world’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.org’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 don’t delay -- nominate an ocean hero in your life today!


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Not What You’d Call a Spring Chicken

Wisdom the albatross. © U.S. Geological Survey

Here’s a story to make you smile: the oldest wild bird in the country is a new mom -- again.

The United States Geological Survey and Fish and Wildlife Service announced on Tuesday that 60-year-old Wisdom, a Laysan albatross and the oldest known wild bird in the United States, is a new mother. Wisdom lives in the Midway Atoll National Wildlife Refuge in the Pacific northwest of the main Hawaiian island.

Albatrosses lay just one egg a year, and after a year in which they have successfully raised a chick, the birds may take a year off from breeding. Not Wisdom. She also nested in 2008, 2009 and 2010. Officials said she probably has raised 30 to 35 babies in her lifetime.

Wisdom’s longevity is a hopeful sign amid otherwise distressing trends for the seabirds. Nineteen of the 21 species of albatross are threatened with extinction, according to the IUCN. Major threats to the birds include plastic pollution in the ocean and capture in long-line fisheries. The birds ingest marine debris, mostly plastic, and feed it to their chicks, lessening their chance of survival.

Let’s hope more birds live as long as Wisdom. Help their chances: take our pledge to reduce your plastic use if you haven’t already.


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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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David de Rothschild Reflects on Plastiki

Last night a few of us here in New York attended the ninth annual Green Drinks NYC Holiday Party. We chatted with some passionate conservationists at the Oceana booth, and were treated to a presentation by special guest speaker, David de Rothschild.

As you probably know, earlier this year, de Rothschild sailed from San Francisco, California to Sydney, Australia, on the Plastiki, a 60-foot catamaran made out of 12,500 reclaimed plastic bottles. He spoke to the crowd about the voyage and reflected on the problem of plastic pollution in our oceans.


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