At a W2O event last night Celine Cousteau presented “The World Beneath the Waves: Being Human in the Sea” to a packed house at the New England Aquarium. I kept toggling back and forth from this very professional speaker to the image of the person on the screen: cold, tired, exhilarated and most of the time, wet. (Many references were made to the fact that, because of her surname, she is often “thrown in the water” and not always comfortably.)  Exploring salt plains in Bolivia, copper mines in Chile, the coastline of Patagonia and what seems to be her most visited and impassioned site, the Amazon River region, Celine documents the intersection of communities and environmental issues. With powerful images of decimated, but beautiful landscapes, she reminds us that in poor rural communities, with no public resources, waste and garbage are left to make its way into lakes, streams and finally the ocean.

Photo: Capkin van Alphen-CauseCentric Productions

Photo: Capkin van Alphen-CauseCentric Productions

There are times when she is the first to explore a remote lake only to find that they are empty of life from the effects of pollution. Sitting on a hill in the midst of plastic pollution and waste, she is photographed looking out onto a magnificent ocean vista. The relationships and bonds that she has made with the people of these regions has inspired her to keep returning, filming, exploring and coming home to tell their stories.

The most dramatic moment of the night was the showing of her short film, “Scars of Freedom,” about a juvenile whale caught in 500 pounds of fishing net. In it, a film crew, which happened to be in the area and with no prior experience of rescuing marine mammals, struggle for hours to cut the net from the whale’s now infected tail.  When Celine talks about the film, you can see emotion welling up as she tells us, “Change only comes with action, and action begins with the heart.”

Linked here are the questions to Key Ocean Issues that were given to the audience at our event.

Celine with the children of GreenSchools courtesy of Robin Organ

Celine with the children of GreenSchools courtesy of Robin Organ

 

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At the recent W2O event, featuring Celine Cousteau’s “A World Beneath the Waves: Being Human in the Sea” we asked our guests to take home this action card and to find the answers to these ten important questions about Ocean Issues.  By researching and knowing the answers to these questions, you become an ambassador for the ocean; able to speak to friends, family and your community about what they can do to protect our blue planet.

 

1.  What are the top five threats facing our oceans?

  • Overfishing
  • Loss of endangered species, and habitat
  • Pollution
  • Climate Change
  • Acidification  (read more here)

2. How does the state of the cod fishery in New England compare to that of the fishery in the northwestern U.S.?

NOAA’s “FishWatch” website provides useful information on the status of various fisheries. Which should you feed to your family? Read here about Pacific Cod and compare here with the Cod of the Northeast.

3. Why are farmed shellfish generally OK to eat?

Through its work on sustainable seafood, the New England Aquarium is a wonderful resource for your questions about farmed shellfish. Find out how shellfish species are grown and harvested, their nutritional value, how to choose them at the grocery store, and even how to cook them! Oysters! Mussels! Clams!

4. Why will climate change cause the seas to rise and how much of an increase can we expect by 2100?

To answer this question and find out what everyone should know about Climate Change, President and CEO of the New England Aquarium Bud Ris, put together a list of the best resources and latest science on this important topic. For basic information about Climate Change and its effect on all of us, he suggests this article by the Union of Concerned Scientists that has an easy to read info graphic as well as a question and answer format. For information about the Boston area, his presentation on Climate Change Sea and Sea Level Rise in Boston Oct 2013, gives us an overview of what to expect if sea levels continue to rise in our back yard.  The most authoritative source on the latest science about Climate Change comes from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. In this article, you can dive deep into the issues, and, learn why its authors say “Human influence on the climate system is clear. This is evident from the increasing greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere, positive radiative forcing, observed warming and understanding of the climate system.”

5. What happens to coral reefs if the water around them gets too warm?

Find out why Coral Bleaching endangers and upsets the entire balance of coral existence, and affects the health of all ocean animals here. Check out this short video “Coral Breakup: A Tragic Love Story” to find out why species have to rely on each other to survive, and how Coral Bleaching can ruin this relationship.

6. What are the principle threats to the North Atlantic right whale?

The New England Aquarium is a global leader on whale research and partners with shipping and fishing industries to reduce two major threats to the North Atlantic right whale: entanglement in fishing gear, and collisions with large commercial ships. The endangered and majestic North Atlantic Right Whale’s  scientific name is Eubalaena Glacialis, which in Greek means”well or true” and “icy” (referring to the cold waters of the Atlantic.) Read about the whales and follow NEAq’s blog, which introduces you to some of the recent sightings off our coasts. 

7.What is wrong with shark finning and what is the legislative initiative underway in Massachusetts?

Sharks have inhabited our oceans for 400 million years, but now scientists warn that existing shark populations cannot sustain the current level of exploitation. The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species estimates that 30 percent of pelagic (open ocean) sharks are threatened with extinction.  Like the slaughter of African elephants for their ivory, massive overfishing of sharks is largely driven by the market for their fins—which can be worth anywhere from 20 to 250 times the value of the meat, depending on the species.  Every year, tens of millions of sharks are killed for their fins, primarily for use in shark fin soup. H.3571, a bill introduced by Representative Jason Lewis, will ensure that Massachusetts ceases to be a part of the destructive global shark fin trade by banning the possession, trade, and sale of shark fins. Similar bans exist in Hawaii, California, Washington, Oregon, Illinois, Delaware, Maryland, New York, American Samoa, Northern Mariana Islands, and Guam. An exemption exists for dogfish and skate species. Click here to read more about the purposed MA bill:  MA Shark Finning Factsheet H 3571 ALL LOGO 8-13.

8. What is bycatch and what can be done to reduce it?

Bycatch happens when fisherman, dragging nets, and scraping ocean floors from trawling, catch marine animals that are not their intended catch. The unintended catch is then thrown back into the ocean, usually stressed and dying. Thousands of sea turtles, seabirds and marine mammals die as a result of becoming bycatch victims. The New England Aquarium leads a consortium on bycatch problems and solutions.

9. What is causing the plastic gyre in the middle of the Pacific?

Plastic Gyres are in the news. But how can you separate myth from fact?  Check out this information and video and learn the truth about plastic pollution.

10. What are the most important things we can do to help solve the problems facing our oceans individually and as a community?

What people eat, and how they move around, have some of the biggest impacts on two of the ocean’s most important problems: overfishing and climate change.  Influencing change often comes from small group discussion with peers. Community level action focused on seafood markets and transportation options that reduce carbon emissions are so important. Getting an entire community or company involved will have a much bigger impact than anything you can do on your own.

  • Talk to your friends and community groups about what fish they eat, and encourage them to speak to ask questions about where the seafood is sourced at restaurants and supermarkets.
  • Promote low-carbon transportation alternatives (e.g. high-speed rail, expanded mass transit, car sharing, bike sharing, installing bike lanes) and encourage the purchasing and use of fuel-efficient cars and trucks.
  • Include ocean conservation organizations as part of your annual giving.

For seafood ideas see:

http://www.neaq.org/conservation_and_research/projects/fisheries_bycatch_aquaculture/sustainable_fisheries/celebrate_seafood/ocean-friendly_seafood/index.php

http://www.npr.org/blogs/thesalt/2013/10/08/230494959/fish-for-dinner-here-are-a-few-tips-for-sea-life-lovers?utm_content=socialflow&utm_campaign=nprfacebook&utm_source=npr&utm_medium=facebook

For tips on low-carbon transportation, see:

http://www.ucsusa.org/global_warming/what_you_can_do/practical-steps-for-low-carbon-living.html

 

 

 

 

 

 

Photo-Capkin van Alphen-CauseCentric Productions

Photo-Capkin van Alphen-CauseCentric Productions

Photo: Capkin van Alphen-CauseCentric Productions

Photo: Capkin van Alphen-CauseCentric Productions

Tickets are going fast for the Celine Cousteau event “The World Beneath the Waves: Being Human in the Sea” on October 22nd.  Here are some wonderful photos by Capkin van Alphen-CauseCentric Productions, to entice you and give you a preview of the wonderful images that will accompany Ms. Cousteau’s presentation about how important it is to protect the environment and especially our oceans.

Photo: Capkin van Alphen-CauseCentric Productions

Photo: Capkin van Alphen-CauseCentric Productions

Photo: Capkin van Alphen-CauseCentric Productions

Photo: Capkin van Alphen-CauseCentric Productions

Roz Savage courtesy of her website: http://www.rozsavage.com/expeditions/

Roz Savage courtesy of her website: http://www.rozsavage.com/expeditions/

 

 

Roz savage sat down and wrote two obituaries for herself. One about her then current life as a consultant and the other detailing all her hopes and dreams about what she wanted to become and what type of person folks would remember her as. She chose to change her life completely and is detailing her amazing transformation in her new book Stop Drifting, Start Rowing about her solo crossing of the Pacific Ocean...IN A ROWBOAT.  Her vantage point (pretty low in the water, vunerable and awestruck), her successes and struggles engage us in a conversation with ourselves about our own journey and our obligations to protect our blue planet and especially the health of our oceans. Pre order the book now and help Roz gain a spot on the Amazon book charts that will then be visible to the casual book browser. Help her spread awareness about ocean conservancy.

Ask just about anyone and they will wax lyrical about the healing properties of the ocean. Folks swear by a trip to the sea to heal everything from sore muscles to anxiety. How many period pieces of literature have we read or seen on TV that mention the trip to the seashore as a restorative outing, one that will revive you, healing you from exhaustion or a broken heart?  Times haven’t changed! At W2O we are so enamored of the ocean, its beauty and the way that it can make us feel.  So much so that earlier this year, at World Ocean Day, we asked children just that….How does the Ocean make you feel?  “Empowered,” “Safe”, “Free,” “Refreshed,” and my favorite, “like I have a lot of unique friends” are just a few of the 300 wonderful answers that we received.

I love this video from Kimi Werner, artist, Patagonia Surf Ambassador, and the 2008 National Spearfishing Champion. With spectacular images and her soothing narration she tells us how connected she is to the ocean. She explains, “I don’t really feel like it should be man and the eco system because I believe man is part of the eco system and realizing that helps me to strive to find my place in it.” It is a lovely testament from someone who makes her livelihood and fulfills her passion from her ocean work. The ocean takes care of us and Kimi reminds us that we need to return the favor: “The moment we stop taking care of nature..that is when everything is going to be lost.”

Kimi Werner by Jeff Johnson courtesy of fcdsurfboards.com

Kimi Werner by Jeff Johnson courtesy of fcdsurfboards.com

Kimi Werner photo by Wayne Levin courtesy of Huffington Post

Kimi Werner photo by Wayne Levin courtesy of Huffington Post

 

 

 

If Sally McKenzie didn’t live in Australia, I am sure she would be right with us at the Celine Cousteau event on October 22nd reflecting on how the oceans effects culture and community.  On what is called “long service leave,” Sal, a teacher in Melbourne, Australia, manned with her ipad as a photo journal, has been traveling for a month in South Africa (visiting her son), the island of Orkney Scotland (attracted to that island by a love of her family’s ancestry), Martha’s Vineyard (to check out the annual Derby and more) and Nova Scotia. Her passion is working harbors, lighthouses and communities by the sea. She has been emailing a regular group of family and friends about her journey and here are some of her ocean observations from her final destination, Cleveland Ohio where she is attending a conference:

South Africa by Sally McKenzie

Cape Town, South Africa by Sally McKenzie

 

How strange it is to be so far from the ocean after months of homage to the Atlantic.
This year, I have seen it from Cape Town, from Orkney, from Martha’s Vineyard and from Nova Scotia. And, in all of these places, it exerts a brooding presence that seeps into the consciousness of the people who reside near it.

It is both giver and taker of life. It is a millionaire’s playground from the deck of a yacht in Nantucket. It provides a livelihood from a trawler out of Menemsha.  It formed a natural barrier to prisoners hoping to escape from Robben Island in Cape Town’s harbour. It is a whale watcher’s territory in Halifax. A shark-infested beach in Camps Bay, Cape Town.

And, always, it is a force majeur- an entity not to be trifled with.

And now I am in the middle of continental USA.

Cleveland, Ohio, where the biggest body of water, and indeed it is a significant body, is that of Lake Erie. But we are a long way from the ocean.

Our taxi driver from the airport, a man who had classical music on his radio,said, “I’ve seen the ocean,once. I liked it.”

We who live by the sea, whose holiday memories are infused with beach and surf and sun, would be hard pressed to live too far from the edges of our island continent and yet take this privilege of proximity for granted. The lure of the sea, and the limitless possibilities it offers, is a seminal force in our lives.

Sometimes we need to go away to realise what we have left behind.

Sal and her husband JD live in Australia

Sal and her husband JD live in Australia

 

Celine CousteauIf you are of a certain age, the name Cousteau brings back thrilling memories of sitting in front of the rabbit ear antenna era TV with family watching the adventures aboard the Calypso of a particularly intriguing French man opening our eyes to the wonders of the ocean.  The legacy lives on with some of the Cousteau family continuing that passion for exploration in the natural world. W2O and The New England Aquarium are delighted that Jacques Cousteau’s granddaughter, Celine, will be presenting “The World Beneath the Waves: Being Human in the Sea” about the intersection of nature and culture on October 22nd at the NEAq’s Simon Imax Theater.

Growing up with an expedition photographer mother and a seaworthy, scuba diving grandmother, Celine had role models whose life choices influenced her to feel like she could do just about anything. “These women naturally did these things that they loved” she says, and Celine was a young adult before she realized, because of her own choices, how strong those influences were. She was encouraged to seek her own career path and studied art and psychology (undergrad) and intercultural relations (graduate school) before starting CauseCentric Productions, a non-profit organizations with the motto line of “Exploring the World. Communicating the Stories. Connecting Humans and the Environment.”  She talks about her journey of doing many different things in her life (including her new role as a mom to her 20 month old son) as a “snaking path that recently has merged into one amazing place to be in” and she says she doesn’t take that for granted. Celine’s form of expression through careers in art, photography, storytelling and business have enabled her to “use different methods of communication to describe cultural and environmental stories” to her audiences. “This is my life, this is what I am doing and I want to maximize this for other people. Supporting causes makes me feel good.”

 

 

Bagnesia/HeatherHeather is a busy working mom who is thoughtful about her usage of single use plastic. She packs her children’s lunch boxes with care, limits her use of unnecessary plastic items and brings her reusable bags to the grocery story….unless she is having a bout of….BAGNESIA!  It happens to all of us. We head out to the grocery store with our list, are distracted by work or getting children into their car seats, get to the store and wammo! We realize that we have forgotten the reusable bags!  Should she buy another one?  Can she manage without one? (Did she read W2O’s blog about transporting groceries plastic free?)  Can her children help her carry items that can be transported without a bag at all? Will her husband chide her (again) about buying more bags each time she has forgotten them? What memory tricks could she use to try and remember those bags in the future?

W2O’s tricks for remembering your reusable bag:

  • Buy some really great bags that are small enough to fit into your pocket or purse. Small Footprint Family writes a great blog about figuring this out and recommends Envirosaxs, which fold up small and come in a variety of cool and pretty styles.
  • After unpacking your bags, hang them on the same hook as your car keys
  • Put your shopping list pad and list into a reusable bag. If you don’t have “listnesia” you will remember both!
  • Put a note or reminder in your car.  Conserving Now has an unobtrusive non adhesive cling sticker reminder that might be the perfect choice.DSCN3816

Always remember to wash your bags often and keep them for the specific use of grocery shopping. Designate other bags for when you are headed to the mall. Remember, even the smallest efforts will increase your awareness. Good for your health and good for our beautiful oceans.

 

The New England Aquarium shared this amazing story with W2O today:

BARNSTABLE, MA (Sept. 11, 2013). An approximately 650 pound  leatherback sea turtle that stranded at low tide in an isolated area of Sandy Neck Beach Park in Barnstable Wednesday morning was treated medically and released back into a rising tide in the early afternoon. New England Aquarium staff are optimistic about her prognosis, but they are seeking the public’s help should boaters or beach walkers re-sight the five foot long, black, soft-shelled sea turtle as she is swimming in Cape Cod Bay or near land.

Photo: Mass Audubon/ Ron Kielb

Photo: Mass Audubon/ Ron Kielb

The turtle was discovered high and dry by Sandy Neck staff in the mid-morning. Rangers called the Massachusetts Audubon Sanctuary at Wellfleet Bay, which acts as first responders for sea turtle strandings on Cape Cod. They in turn called the New England Aquarium for medical support from their rescue biologists and veterinarian. Given the isolated location, rescuers were ferried to the site by Barnstable harbormaster and a Good Samaritan private boater.
With near record heat and an exposed marine reptile in the baking sun, rescuers covered the turtle with wet sheets to keep the animal cooler. They also moved her on to a dolphin stretcher to lift her, if necessary, and  to also help contain the restless creature while they treated her. They found tags on the flippers of the adult female indicating that she had previously nested on a beach in Trinidad. That large island off the northeastern coast of South America is one of the principal egg laying sites for this highly endangered species.
For the Aquarium medical staff, they needed to make a crucial and time sensitive evaluation as to how sick was the turtle and why it might have stranded. Both Sandy Neck and Mass Audubon staff knew that once into this tidal backwater, many marine animals become confused. For a leatherback feeding on sea jellies, that would be even more likely as this species of sea turtle is generally in the open ocean and is less familiar with the fluctuations of tides.
For Connie Merigo, head of the Aquarium’s marine animal rescue team, she needed to determine was this a reasonably healthy animal that accidentally stranded in an unfamiliar habitat or a sick turtle that was debilitated and had essentially washed ashore. A moderately healthy animal could be released on the incoming tide while an ill turtle could be transported to the Aquarium’s Animal Care Center in Quincy.
At about 650 pounds, the leatherback was slightly underweight and not as fat as biologists would expect at this late point of the summer feeding season. The Aquarium’s rescue biologists took vital signs and drew blood. They entered a sample into a portable blood analyzer. Head veterinarian and noted turtle specialist Dr. Charles Innis looked at the results. To his slight surprise, the sea turtle’s blood values were within normal range. This turtle’s best chance at survival was to be released but with a little medical boost to help combat stress of the stranding and other existing minor medical maladies. Dr. Innis gave the turtle a long-lasting anti-biotic, anti-inflammatory and vitamin complement.
As the tide slowly rose and made the massive turtle more buoyant,  about ten Barnstable, Mass Audubon and Aquarium staff grabbed the handles of the nylon stretcher and moved her out to deeper water. On command, one side of the stretcher was dropped, water flooded in and the turtle swam out into deeper water. She took a breath and dove – always a good sign. A couple of staff sighted her further down the inlet. A nervous elation percolated through the rescuers – excited, proud but still concerned that this important animal survive so that it might one day this winter lay eggs on a beach in Trinidad.
The successful treatment and release of live leatherback sea turtles is an extremely rare event. Live strandings of this ocean-going turtle are very uncommon, but also little was known of their physiology and how to treat them since they have never been successfully kept in an aquarium anywhere. A few years ago, Cara Dodge, a former federal sea turtle official, enrolled Innis and Merigo in a field research study to temporarily live capture leatherbacks at sea, take samples and build more knowledge of their physiology.
Strangely enough, once published last summer, that information has been used twice to save live stranded leatherbacks. Last September, another leatherback of the same size stranded in Truro but was near death. After spending 48 hours in treatment with the Aquarium, the turtle was equipped with a satellite tag, released and successfully migrated down the East Coast.

Wasserman cartoon from The Boston Globe

Wasserman cartoon from The Boston Globe

In this day and age, with so much internet access bringing our planet closer and closer together, I would now consider most nations my neighbor. I text folks in Australia, facebook with people from Asia and Europe and tweet with the world.  I think it is time we begin to respect our “neighbors” when it comes to climate change and our own emissions and pollutants that effect our back yards and the back yards of our those friends thousands of miles away. Lets face it, we are the culprit of many of the issues that the islands in this article from The Japan Times (found on The Daily Climate, one of my favorite sites) refers to.  Nations are facing impossible predicaments; abandoning the home they love and making a move to higher ground.  What a sacrifice and a sad choice to have to make.

Interesting too, is the fact that the small Island Nations in this article are taking unprecedented steps to change their own footprints in recognition that there must be systemic change. “The islands, which produce less than 0.1 percent of the world’s emissions, say they are leading by example. Most have started to substitute the expensive diesel they must traditionally import to generate electricity with renewable energy, including coconut power — biodiesel derived from homegrown coconut palms to power cars and outboard motors. The Marshall Islands has converted its outer island communities to solar energy and Tokelau has become the first territory in the world able to meet all its electricity needs with solar power. The Cook Islands and Tuvalu are aiming to get all of their electricity from renewable sources by 2020.”

Its our turn to make some changes and reduce our own emissions and waste for the sake of our neighbors (who unfortunately are the first of many populations to feel the direct effects of rising seas from a warming climate) and for our own good.  All too soon, we will be the ones having to up and move from our declining shores, relocating from places that we love.