Celine Cousteau “Action Begins with the Heart”

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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

 

Finding the Answers to Key Ocean Issues

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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

 

 

 

 

 

W2O and NEAq hosts Celine Cousteau on October 22nd

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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 Stopped Drifting and Started Rowing

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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.

Celine Cousteau; Maximizing the Third Generation Role Model

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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.”

 

 

Helping a Rare Sea Turtle in the Cape Get Back to Trinidad

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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.

W2O Intern Phoebe takes the temp on Brookline’s Bag Ban

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At Women Working for Oceans we have been promoting the passing of the Plastic Bag Ban of Massachusetts. Our newest member of the W2O team, Dartmouth rising senior, Phoebe Racine, went to Brookline, a suburb of Boston that has passed a municipal bill banning plastic bags, to interview businesses, find out what people think of the ban, learn how it might influence their choices and affect business when is enacted in December. 

On a Wednesday in the ides of November, Brookline was the first town in Massachusetts to enact a ban specifically on plastic bags and polystyrene to-go containers. Brookline’s hope was to start a movement. They wanted to pave way for towns, cities, counties and states throughout the East Coast to pass similar bans. And start a movement they have. Since the ruling, Manchester-By-The-Sea and Great Barrington have followed suit. However, Brookline was not the first to ban one time use plastic bags, only the first to do so specifically. In 1989, Nantucket banned a wide array of plastics, including the plastic bag. Today, four Massachusetts towns have a bag ban in place. In my interview with Town Meeting member, Clint Richmond, he explained that these four towns represent 1% of Massachusetts. As for the other 98% of the state, W2O hopes that Massachusetts will pass Bill H696 and thus enact the first ever, statewide plastic bag ban.

In our push for the bag ban we believe it imperative to explore a ban’s effects on towns who have passed such laws. I went to Brookline to interview businesses and take a lay of the land. What I found surprised me.

The Brookline Town Council set the ban to start December 1st of 2013, allowing over a year for businesses to prepare. At the time, Brock Parker of The Boston Globe reported that, “As many as 90 businesses will have to deal with the plastic bag dilemma in the coming months.” The ban will affect businesses over 2,5000 sq ft in size and franchises with more than two sites within Brookline. In Brookline I spoke to local businesses and in particular businesses who I knew would be affected. I went to CVS, Stop & Shop and Walgreens and was surprised by the lack of knowledge about the upcoming ban. With less than five months before the ban is to start, I envisioned that owners, managers and employees alike would be aware of what was to come. As the first town to enact such a bill in the state, I believed that this was either exciting or unfortunate news for businesses and for people who live or work in Brookline. However, I spoke to several managers and all were unaware that there was a ban set by Town Council. (Maybe a majority of employees are traveling in to work from out of town..)Most felt that the ban would not affect their business.

After calling CVS and Walgreens corporate offices all I hear was ‘I-don’t-know-I’ll-have-someone-call-you-back.’ (Still waiting..)  A representative from the CVS Massachusetts district development office did think through the issue with me and said, “I’m not sure. We used to have a Green Bag Tag, (a reward system for using a reusable bag) maybe we’ll go back to that?”

While the reactions from store managers and representatives from corporate spoke with relative lack of knowledge or neutrality, a video published on June 24th by journalist Jonathan Satriale showed an overall positive reaction from Brookline shoppers. Set outside Booksmith in Coolidge Corner, the video “Brookline Plastic Bag Ban Reactions” captures the thoughts and statements of 10 Brookline residents. Susan Davis admitted, “I try not to use plastic bags anyway. I try to bring my own. I think it (the bag ban) will encourage me more to bring those bags.” Gary, however, reminded us, “how many people do you see carrying reusable bags? It’s all fine, but there is always another side of the coin.” Overall most residents interviewed believed such a ban will make them “more responsible.”  To watch the video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b3aY_nESNIY

Do you think a plastic bag ban in your town would make you ‘more responsible?’ How do you think you’re community would react to such a ban? Please let us know!

Summer Reading from W2O

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Today I am setting you all up for some serious summer reading. Links to this New England Aquarium refresher on Climate Change is a good introduction to the more scientific facts in Science Magazine’s article “Natural Systems in Changing Climates,”  and its comprehensive list of articles that include a wide range of topics taking the mystery out of questions about the impact of human induced changes in our climate. Covered topics include the economic impact and human health vulnerability effected by our warming planet. Important summer reading from W2O.

photoWhat are you reading that might be of interest to our Ocean Loving members this summer?

W2O Intern Phoebe Recommends Buying from the Source!

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Want to Try Something New? Buy Directly from your Fish Farmer.

There’s an up and coming effort in the United States to get a step closer to the farm. More so, there’s certainly an effort to buy what’s local and think sustainably. So, why not try something new and buy directly from your fish farmer? Remove all doubt in what you’re buying! (Oceana reported that at least 25% of all seafood is mislabeled! eeek!) If you buy from these farms you’ll come home with the most sustainably harvested and freshest fish while supporting an American made product. Even better, you won’t have to sacrifice taste!

 

The list below is intended for Boston residents, like myself, who are looking for the best and most sustainable seafood available nearby! Remember, while these farms have limited offerings, many of these fish are awesome substitutions for much less sustainable species.

Australis: Turner Falls, Massachusetts

The best source for barramundi! An awesome, closed system farm.

http://www.thebetterfish.com/sustainability/massachusetts-farm

E&T Farms: West Barnstable, Massachusetts

A great source on the Cape for tilapia! They also grow veggies and make honey on site! They’re an aquaponic system-meaning they’re a closed system farm and they grow more than just fish.

http://www.eandtfarmsinc.com/

Island Creek Oyster

Photo: .http://www.islandcreekoysters.com/

Island Creek Oyster Farms: Duxbury, Massachusetts

A great source for oysters and philanthropy! Island Creek Oysters have started their own foundation that helps to start aquaculture systems throughout the developing world. I just visited the farm on Tuesday and accidentally sat in on their team meeting. Oops.http://www.islandcreekoysters.com/

Sky8 Shrimp Farm: Stoughton, Massachusetts

A recirculating aquaculture system just 20 minutes outside of Boston. It’s a new business so their gourmet white shrimp are not widely available yet. However, this is a place to look out for!

http://www.sky8shrimpfarm.com/

While this list can certainly help you buy your seafood, are you unconvinced that these species are worth trying? Chef Barton Seaver wrote up an awesome guide to using species that you might normal not think of, simply because they might not be the most popular choice. http://ocean.nationalgeographic.com/ocean/take-action/seafood-substitutions/ 

More on Seafood Fraud: http://oceana.org/en/our-work/promote-responsible-fishing/seafood-fraud/overview

Want to double check a species of fish you’re buying? Seafood Watch is the go to site, they even have an app.

http://www.montereybayaquarium.org/cr/seafoodwatch.aspx