Thursday, June 30, 2011

Downstream Connections

The ocean is downstream from everything. Keep this in mind and continue to let everyone know. gives us a nice reminder. "The ocean is downstream of everything, so all of our actions, no matter where we live, effect the ocean and the marine life it holds. Those who live right on the coastline will have the most direct impact on the ocean, but even if you live far inland, there are many things you can do that will help marine life," wrote Jennifer Kennedy.

Her "ways to help the oceans" are also a good reminder that the big issues are hugely important like fighting climate change to avert ocean acidification but let's not forget smaller things we can all do to support healthy oceans: be energy efficient, avoid plastics especially single use, dispose of fishing line properly, and hang onto balloons. 

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

She's a Right Powerful Beast

The ocean is powerful, literally. According to engineers, there are a number of ways the oceans can energize the world.

How graceful it would be to tap into that Earth moving force and to fight climate change, which threatens the oceans today, at the same time.

"According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report published recently, several technologies are possible, such as submarine turbines for tidal and ocean currents, heat exchangers for ocean thermal energy conversion, and a variety of devices to harness the energy of waves and salinity gradients," as noted in Engineering News.

The story goes on to talk about specific projects and remains optimistic, albeit a bit dry (pun intended). It is an engineering publication, after all.

As long as every ocean technology respects sustainable and healthy oceans, let's get to it. 

Read more here.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Conservation Connections

Of condors and marine mammal carcasses, both of which would be gone if not for human efforts many years ago.

These two California success stories come together across the Big Sur landscape in a pleasant first person account from biologist Don Lyman in the Santa Cruz Sentinel.

"When I see a condor in Big Sur, soaring over the coast, I see a perfect natural relationship. And I still can't believe that perfection was almost lost," said Joe Burnett, senior wildlife biologist and field supervisor for the Ventana Condor Restoration Program

Image from Ventana Wildlife Program. 

Friday, June 24, 2011

California Healing

Friday food-for-thought quote: 

“I came to the ocean to heal, but I found an ocean that needed healing,” said Angela Haseltine Pozzi, artist, educator, and director of the Washed Ashore community project.

Angela was part of creating 15 large sculptures from ocean trash through the Marine Mammal Center in California.

Read more about the sculpture project in Business Wire.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Value of the View

recently noted a better way to communicate the plight of the oceans, or at least another good idea -- another useful tool as they say for anyone who has ever tried to convince people that the oceans need help. It is also good food for thought on where motivation sleeps. 

According to real estate developer Eric Johnson, the ocean resonates with humans on all levels of Maslow's hierarchy of needs: physiological (because we are above the water, firmly on the earth); safety (a sense of being able to see dangers ahead); love/belonging (we are all connected by shared oceans); esteem (a sense of relief and pride about being alive); and self-actualization/happiness (wanting to celebrate life milestones like engagements and weddings at the ocean).

Whoa, dig the deep real estate guru.

From this we get the enticing headline: Don't Talk About Fish, Talk About Saving Pristine Oceanfront Property

We saw yesterday from the bummer results of the Hong Kong survey that people like me are not doing their job at communicating the plight of the oceans, so this for sure goes right into the toolbox.

Read the whole story here.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Tell Everyone

This bummer of a survey from Hong Kong, where 2 out of 5 people believe that seafood stocks are inexhaustible, is another reason to keep talking. Tell everyone the plight of the oceans.

Tell them about overfishing, bycatch, destructive fishing gear, ocean acidification, habitat loss, extinctions, run-off pollution, ocean dumping, plastics, mercury, and the myriad other ways the oceans take a beating at the hands of humans.

Talk about how little is known about the oceans, about how disconnected so many of us are from the imperiled pump of life that is the blue on this big blue marble we call home.

Be clear, concise, correct, and courteous, but forceful. Be heard.

Despite their size and awesomeness, the oceans need all the help they can get.

Read the Standard's whole story on the survey here.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

NJ Wind Despite Gov's Retreat

Despite New Jersey's Governor Christie diluting renewable goals for the state -- from 30 to 22% -- and removing NJ from the Northeast multi-state cap and trade program know as the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, RIGGI for short, offshore wind seems to have a future in the state.

Eleven companies are looking at wind farms off the lovely shores of Jersey.

This sounds great as long as the siting and operation take healthy oceans into full consideration.

By the way, the next time the fossil fuel lovers who argue against renewable energy throw up the specter of jobs loss, give them this:

"New Jersey has currently identified 500 companies that could be involved in the development of these offshore wind farms. Along with creating clean energy, these offshore wind farms will also create hundreds of new jobs," according to the Philadelphia Inquirer.

Read more here.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Catch a Wave

 Catch a wave and you'll be sittin' on top of the world -- Beach Boys

Today is International Surfing Day, so catch a wave or at least let a few roll across your memory. Waves are beautiful statements of the power and awe of the oceans, also very nice to listen to and look at -- another marvel from the seas.

Body surfing on New Jersey beaches as a youngster was pure joy for me, and remains the source of a little glee. 

Check out Surfrider, a great organization that advocates for clean and healthy oceans. You do not have to be a surfer to join or to appreciate their efforts.

Above image: Nick Yamato getting some courtesy of

Friday, June 17, 2011

You Say You Want a Revolution

Here's an inspiring call to arms for the environmental movement from James Speth in Yale Environment 360. Posted in 2008, it still resonates today, maybe even with more urgency because what he describes is still sorely missing. Poets, priests, and philosophers carry us out.

"The environmental agenda should expand to embrace a profound challenge to consumerism and commercialism and the lifestyles they offer, a healthy skepticism of growthmania and a redefinition of what society should be striving to grow, a challenge to corporate dominance and a redefinition of the corporation and its goals, a commitment to deep change in both the functioning and the reach of the market, and a powerful assault on the anthropocentric and contempocentric values that currently dominate.

The best hope for real change in America is a fusion of those concerned about environment, social justice, and strong democracy into one powerful progressive force.

Our environmental discourse has thus far been dominated by lawyers, scientists, and economists. Now, we need to hear a lot more from the poets, preachers, philosophers, and psychologists. 

If there is a model within American memory for what must be done, it is the civil rights revolution of the 1960s. It had grievances, it knew what was causing them, and it also knew that the existing order had no legitimacy and that, acting together, people could redress those grievances. It was confrontational and disobedient, but it was nonviolent. It had a dream. And it had Martin Luther King Jr.” 

Read his full rousing post here.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Somewhere Off the Coast of La Espanola

Treasure hunts always stir the imagination. This discovery seems to be in the coastal waters of what is now the Dominican Republic.

"Deep Blue Marine Inc. is pleased to announce that divers have...recovered a ship’s bell and silver coins each weighing one troy ounce dating from 1774 – 1779 from the site. These artifacts have been turned over to the Ministry of Culture for cleaning and restoration," according to Gamut News.

 Who was the last person to see the coins and what were they doing? Are they Spanish coins? Why did the ship sink? Were their survivors and where did they go? What did the waters and islands look like back then? 

Whole story here.

Image courtesy of

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Night of Living Dead Zone Bill

Watery Yin and Yang

The dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico is unfortunately alive and well. Fortunately, Ocean Champions are working hard to promote legislation that will fight this deadly testament to water pollution.

The dead zone is a large area in the waters of the Gulf of Mexico that has little or no oxygen. As if moves through the water column like an ominous shadow, it kills marine life including shellfish and fish.

This suffocating swath is caused by upstream runoff of fertilizers, soil erosion, animal wastes, and sewage into the Mississippi River from major farming states in the Mississippi River Valley, including Minnesota, Iowa, Illinois, Wisconsin, Missouri, Tennessee, Arkansas, Mississippi, and Louisiana, according to scientists like Monica Bruckner of Montana State University.

Cry foul and support Ocean Champions anyway you can, and look for any opportunities to support and talk to your representatives about legislation that seeks to remedy the dead zone. Check out Ocean Champions' short video starring co-founder David Wilmont.

From the Ocean Champions site: 

Night of the Living Dead Zone Bill

The bill to fight toxic algae and dead zones is alive and walking around Capitol Hill once again!

You know that fighting coastal water pollution has been an Ocean Champions priority for several years. Working closely with our champions, we were able to pass a House bill to fight toxic algae and oceanic dead zones last year. Unfortunately, this good bill died in the Senate at the very end of 2010, coming just short of full passage.  We weren't ready to give up, so we met with key champions early this year to assess another run at reducing toxic algal blooms, and found that bipartisan support for addressing this issues still exists.

On June 1, the fight against coastal water pollution took another step forward as the House Science and Technology Committee's Energy and Environment Subcommittee held a hearing on harmful algal blooms (HABs) and dead zones that included consideration of draft legislation.  We haven't yet seen the bill's full language, but are encouraged that the Committee is moving forward on a HABs bill based on the one our champions passed in the House last year.

We’ll be working closely with our champions to help make this bill as strong as possible, and to get it passed. There should be extra motivation in D.C., as the BP oil spill and the Mississippi river basin flooding are expected to make the Gulf of Mexico dead zone bigger than it has ever been.

Just as we did last year, we’ll need your help at critical times to push the bill forward. Together, with a little luck, we may be able to take steps to clean up coastal water!

 More Ocean Champions on the dead zone.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Variety is the Disturbance of Life

This veteran of marine mammal stranding has been picking animals off New Jersey beaches and bays for years. Now he's seeing animals that he's rarely if ever seen.

He knows
He is on the front lines of changes caused by rapid heating of the planet -- heat affects currents, currents influence marine mammals. He's like the canary in the coal mine for oceans and he's singing.

An excerpt:

Question: What is the biggest issue facing the Marine Mammal Stranding Center today? 

Bob Schoelkopf: The biggest issue is the increase in the number of animals and types of animals we see coming onto the beaches in recent years.

There is clearly some change in the climate that is moving the currents and bringing various animals we haven't seen before and an abundance of them we haven't seen before. We've never seen so many harp seals in one year, for example. Manatees were never seen this far north before, and now they are.

Read his full interview in here.

Image from 

Monday, June 13, 2011

Clover Reaches People

Clover is a tough survivor. She's an older sea turtle and she's missing flippers. Yet she still makes it back to the same Florida beach annually as turtles do.

Once spotted, she gets help from a crew of people who have been waiting for her, and who dig a hole for her to lay her eggs.

An endearing story, yes, but also informative for anyone who has ever tried to communicate the need to save the oceans, or the environment, in general:  It was the second most popular story on CNN for hours when it ran.

People respond to these kinds of stories. Even if the story of a turtle referenced in the first person complete with a pet name should make scientists and serious environmental folks cringe or blush, we should wake up. As the brilliant idealists at Futerra have told us -- humanizing and personalizing the natural world goes farther and longer than doom and gloom.

The most popular story at that time? Unfortunately, the most popular story tells a different, sad story of humanity but we don't need to go into that. Second place is great even if it is to a not-so-great actor and his personal issues.

Read all about Clover here.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

A Few Ways to Celebrate Oceans Day

Everyday is Oceans Day but to celebrate this official day, I'd say go to the ocean.

But many of us regrettably cannot do that so instead celebrate the ocean by taking ten seconds to ponder all the great times you've had in and around the oceans. As simple as a barefoot walk on a breezy stretch to a dive off an undersea wall on the precipice of the deep dark blue.

Ponder the oceans in the same way this blind person at a US Congressional hearing spoke of  the Alaskan wilderness:

"I may never visit the North Slope of Alaska, and I will certainly never see its wilderness, but just to know such a place exists fills my soul with hope."

Go ahead, fill your soul with hope. I dare you.  At least have a good day, anyway.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Protect These Canadian Places

Chilling in a Fjord
Check out the twelve Marine Protected Areas proposed by the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society.

The story in the Guardian has great descriptions of these currently healthy (for now) marine areas in Canada. Each one deserves an Eco Ocean post alone. Now they need protection.

My favorites are South Coast Fjords (guess I'm partial to sea turtles) and Lancaster Sound.

Who knew Canada had such marine biodiversity? They did, and I'm glad for it.

See the proposed MPAs here.

Lancaster Sound
Hectate Strait Glass Sponges
 Images courtesy of The Globe and Mail.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Mr Fish Goes to Washington

Go Jimmy
The third Blue Vision Summit hosted by Blue Frontier Campaign held recently in Washington, DC was great fun.

You go to learn and meet people but you stay for the inspiration, especially the shine from the planned Capitol Hill Ocean Day.

Just to be chatting and hanging with great ocean people was an honor, many have been at this for a long time and deserve accolades for their often quiet but steady ocean activism and accomplishments.

Others were newer on the scene but they made up for it with enthusiasm and optimism.

All attendees came together over a strong desire to support healthy oceans. It was the kind of event that feels like you are just back from a brisk walk on the beach, salt spray still on your cheeks.

For the unprofessional lobbyist, Capitol Hill Ocean Day was everything from democracy in action to an opportunity to publicly wrap your arms around the oceans.

There, at our nation’s capital, we told the staffer from my state, who has the federal Representative’s or Senator’s ear, our concerns and love for the oceans.  We also expressed our support of a National Ocean Policy for the US and a Clean Ocean Zone from Montauk, NY to Cape May, NJ.

Sure nothing may come of my words in that brief meeting -- of course not really -- but they were listening one way or another. There was no script, no talking points, no messaging, just raw love and democracy.

The New York team, led by Jennifer, from Clean Ocean Action, had a full day as did the other teams from other states. Our team was a great mix of artists and writers and simply sincere ocean advocates.

Anne talked about her enviable and fabulous career as a photographer with National Geographic and her countless adventures. Marc came with his book in hand, beautiful photographs of fish silhouettes, designed to illustrate the plight of overfishing.

A few times we had some ringers, too. The students from the NY Harbor School spoke about their love of the oceans with earnest eloquence. They were a tough act to follow but that is perfectly fine.

We went from office to office, walking miles on the hard white marble floors and feeling the hefty humidity of DC. We sat down with the sharp and young staff of a bevy of New York politicians, including Senators Schumer and Gillibrand. The underlying theme in all our words was love of the oceans.

Who knew democracy could be so energizing? Despite the aching feet and despite many of the questions from staffers aimed toward the politics of it all -- which hints at the embarrassing and shameful ongoing squabbling among our elected officials on the national stage -- there is something satisfying to being part of the democratic process.

I may have even used the word love at least once when talking about oceans. Why not? At first I blushed when I gushed the word but I was reaffirmed by my own research and Futerra’s reports and other sources that reiterate sharing the love of nature is much more effective than doom and gloom, possibly more effective than anything else.

It’s the power of positive thinking, and I hope team NY passed some of it (and the urgency) onto the staffers who met with us.

And by the way, anyone can do this, especially constituents. Contact the office of your elected Congressperson and make an appointment. Tell them you love the oceans and would like them protected. It is your right to be heard.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Japanese Consume the Most Bluefin Tuna

When the United States recently declined to protect the bluefin tuna, it was one more failure of people to see beyond themselves.

There's a long line of people to blame but that line ends at the consumer.

The politicians, the officials, and the fishermen are all responding to the money to be made in killing the important and magnificent top predator. That money ultimately comes from the consumer.

The Japanese consume the most by far. Maybe we ought to stop letting people hide behind whatever it is they hide behind as they extinct a species.

Oh, that's right, we already had our chance many times over and we blew it.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Whale Sharks Gather

Just look at those awesome creatures. An aerial view of a massive gathering of whale sharks in the middle of the Sea of Cortez. Look at the boat for scale.

The largest fish in the ocean generally eats the smallest organisms. There's some beautiful symmetry, or even a message in all of that (but don't ask me to describe it).

Plus, how great would it be to be swimming with those docile giants? Actually, it might be as the ocean often is, simultaneously magnificent and frightening.