you're reading...

Coastal Management

Wake up and smell the marine awareness…on social media?!

A trash-free vision

I bet your last visit to the beach had litter of some sort hiding in the sand. But what if we could change that-what would it take, and is it possible? If you pick up a piece of plastic on the beach, imagine the impact if every beach-goer took a moment to do the same. Is this vision, of beaches and coastal places litter-free, attainable? I’m all about staying on the Sunny Side, so I’m going out on a limb to say, yes, it is.

Featured image. Beach cleanups are one way we can make a positive impact on our coasts. (U.S. Air Force photo/Michael Peterson)

Make an impact on social media

Recently, one of my friends posted on social media about her visit to a beach in Ocean City, New Jersey where she witnessed some children feeding an entire barrel of cheese puffs to a flock of Laughing Gulls. She went up to the children and politely explained that feeding human food to wildlife is not good for them, and asked them to share what they learned today with other beach-goers who might want to feed a cracker to a gull. I admire my friend’s dedication to not only mitigate beach litter, but also her grit for personally educating children about protecting wildlife. She also managed to pick up an armful of plastic bits during this trip to the beach, including straws, cigarette butts (which have plastic filters), toys, Styrofoam, and a bottle.  On a trip to Fort Lauderdale, Florida the following week, she collected a plastic cup and straw from the sand. While snorkeling, she grabbed a floating plastic bag from the water, which could be mistaken for a jellyfish by an unsuspecting sea turtle. To me her actions define ocean optimism! I share her story and a little more about ways we can bring marine litter awareness into our daily lives.

Marissa holds a handful of plastic litter she collected from Ocean City, NJ. Photo credit: Marissa Altmann.

A friend with a wildlife and marine vision

My friend is Marissa Altmann, a wildlife conservationist who works for the Wildlife Friendly Enterprise Network (WFEN, check out @wildlife friendly), an organization that takes an innovative approach by using certification as a practical market-based tool to get conservation work done. WFEN certifies enterprises that assure people and nature coexist and thrive and provides incentives for conservation by inspiring companies, their consumers, and local communities to protect wildlife. WFEN’s work around the world empowers consumers and tourists to be catalysts for behavior change and best practices for some of the world’s most vulnerable wildlife including sea turtles.

WFEN is expanding their impact by tackling marine litter as part of a new certification program, Sea Turtle Friendly™. Through this program, Marissa and WFEN hope to help the sea turtles by encouraging the private sector and tourists to support the conservation of these species. Reducing marine litter is one goal of the program, along with promoting low-impact lighting, encouraging a respectful distance when in the water, reducing trade in sea turtle shell products, and much more. By engaging tourists and the hospitality sector as partners in conservation, this program acts to provide new and sustainable livelihood opportunities for coastal communities that might otherwise cause harmful tourism-related impacts or turn to sea turtle poaching.

WFEN’s co-founder and Executive Director, Julie Stein says that “Beach and ocean clean ups are one approach but equally if not more important is to reduce plastic litter and microplastics before it ever reaches our oceans and beaches….Consumers have a lot of power and they need to use it effectively to create change especially on this issue.  The health of our oceans and marine wildlife depend on it.”

Marissa, Julie, and attendees at the 2017 Wider Caribbean Sea Turtle Conservation Network (WIDECAST) meeting. This bottle-cap turtle was made by Thijs Beemsterboer and Sabine Berendse of Sea Turtle Conservation Curacao. Photo credit: Julie Stein.

It’s up to us to spread marine awareness

Certification programs are one great way for us to find businesses that are committed to conservation. This month, Plastic Free July, was also a flurry of awareness about what we can do to reduce our overall plastic consumption. But what else can you and I do to continue the wave of Ocean Optimism throughout the year? I recently learned about take3.org, a not-for-profit organization that began back in 2009 in Sydney, Australia. The Take 3 message is simple: take 3 pieces of litter with you when you leave the beach, waterway, or anywhere! Let’s face it: it’s going to take much more than 3 pieces each to really get a handle on pervasive marine pollution. While picking up other people’s trash may not be an instinct, it probably would make us feel good about pitching in to clean up our coasts!

According to Marissa, “People often don’t realize their own impact on wildlife and ecosystems, but by pointing out how harmful a straw or plastic bag can be to a majestic sea turtle, you can usually get people to think about their actions a little differently.”

Just as Marissa posted on Facebook about her beach experience, you can use social media as a platform to show the difference you made by picking up trash. Part of Take 3’s message is to share photos of what you collected from the beach by posting to Instagram or Facebook and using the hashtag #Take3fortheSea and logging the location. And it gets even better: By posting what you collect, the Take 3 team can record the number of items removed from waterways and measure the tangible difference we are all making together! Who knows, maybe the photos uploaded by Take 3 supporters could help coastal communities target certain beaches and tourist locations for more intense clean-up and awareness.

And if you visit any coastal beaches or businesses that are particularly responsible when it comes to litter and conservation, you can use the #SeaTurtleFriendly or #WildlifeFriendly hashtags to raise awareness of destinations that encourage conservation action.

Beach clean-ups provide a way for concerned citizens to take part in helping to remove the rubbish that seems to cling to our coasts. Recent research conducted in the U.K. suggests that clean-up activities may increase awareness of marine litter problems. We can learn a lot from the Take 3 message and Marissa’s organization-whether you pick up a can or bottle, or kindly remind your friends and family the importance of keeping our coasts litter-free, you are making a difference. Indeed, my recent conversation with Marissa has inspired me to have more marine litter awareness, and I hope you have become inspired to take a moment, or 3, for our oceans.



No comments yet.

Post a Comment


  • by oceanbites 2 months ago
    Happy Earth Day! Take some time today to do something for the planet and appreciate the ocean, which covers 71% of the Earth’s surface.  #EarthDay   #OceanAppreciation   #Oceanbites   #CoastalVibes   #CoastalRI 
  • by oceanbites 3 months ago
    Not all outdoor science is fieldwork. Some of the best days in the lab can be setting up experiments, especially when you get to do it outdoors. It’s an exciting mix of problem solving, precision, preparation, and teamwork. Here is
  • by oceanbites 4 months ago
    Being on a research cruise is a unique experience with the open water, 12-hour working shifts, and close quarters, but there are some familiar practices too. Here Diana is filtering seawater to gather chlorophyll for analysis, the same process on
  • by oceanbites 5 months ago
    This week for  #WriterWednesday  on  #oceanbites  we are featuring Hannah Collins  @hannahh_irene  Hannah works with marine suspension feeding bivalves and microplastics, investigating whether ingesting microplastics causes changes to the gut microbial community or gut tissues. She hopes to keep working
  • by oceanbites 5 months ago
    Leveling up - did you know that crabs have a larval phase? These are both porcelain crabs, but the one on the right is the earlier stage. It’s massive spine makes it both difficult to eat and quite conspicuous in
  • by oceanbites 5 months ago
    This week for  #WriterWednesday  on  #Oceanbites  we are featuring Cierra Braga. Cierra works ultraviolet c (UVC) to discover how this light can be used to combat biofouling, or the growth of living things, on the hulls of ships. Here, you
  • by oceanbites 6 months ago
    This week for  #WriterWednesday  at  #Oceanbites  we are featuring Elena Gadoutsis  @haysailor  These photos feature her “favorite marine research so far: From surveying tropical coral reefs, photographing dolphins and whales, and growing my own algae to expose it to different
  • by oceanbites 6 months ago
    This week for  #WriterWednesday  on Oceanbites we are featuring Eliza Oldach. According to Ellie, “I study coastal communities, and try to understand the policies and decisions and interactions and adaptations that communities use to navigate an ever-changing world. Most of
  • by oceanbites 7 months ago
    This week for  #WriterWednesday  at  #Oceanbites  we are featuring Jiwoon Park with a little photographic help from Ryan Tabata at the University of Hawaii. When asked about her research, Jiwoon wrote “Just like we need vitamins and minerals to stay
  • by oceanbites 7 months ago
    This week for  #WriterWednesday  on  #Oceanbites  we are featuring  @riley_henning  According to Riley, ”I am interested in studying small things that make a big impact in the ocean. Right now for my master's research at the University of San Diego,
  • by oceanbites 7 months ago
    This week for  #WriterWednesday  at  #Oceanbites  we are featuring Gabby Stedman. Gabby is interested in interested in understanding how many species of small-bodied animals there are in the deep-sea and where they live so we can better protect them from
  • by oceanbites 7 months ago
    This week for  #WriterWednesday  at  #Oceanbites  we are featuring Shawn Wang! Shawn is “an oceanographer that studies ocean conditions of the past. I use everything from microfossils to complex computer models to understand how climate has changed in the past
  • by oceanbites 7 months ago
    Today we are highlighting some of our awesome new authors for  #WriterWednesday  Today we have Daniel Speer! He says, “I am driven to investigate the interface of biology, chemistry, and physics, asking questions about how organisms or biological systems respond
  • by oceanbites 8 months ago
    Here at Oceanbites we love long-term datasets. So much happens in the ocean that sometimes it can be hard to tell if a trend is a part of a natural cycle or actually an anomaly, but as we gather more
  • by oceanbites 9 months ago
    Have you ever seen a lobster molt? Because lobsters have exoskeletons, every time they grow they have to climb out of their old shell, leaving them soft and vulnerable for a few days until their new shell hardens. Young, small
  • by oceanbites 9 months ago
    A lot of zooplankton are translucent, making it much easier to hide from predators. This juvenile mantis shrimp was almost impossible to spot floating in the water, but under a dissecting scope it’s features really come into view. See the
  • by oceanbites 9 months ago
    This is a clump of Dead Man’s Fingers, scientific name Codium fragile. It’s native to the Pacific Ocean and is invasive where I found it on the east coast of the US. It’s a bit velvety, and the coolest thing
  • by oceanbites 10 months ago
    You’ve probably heard of jellyfish, but have you heard of salps? These gelatinous sea creatures band together to form long chains, but they can also fall apart and will wash up onshore like tiny gemstones that squish. Have you seen
  • by oceanbites 11 months ago
    Check out what’s happening on a cool summer research cruise! On the  #neslter  summer transect cruise, we deployed a tow sled called the In Situ Icthyoplankton Imaging System. This can take pictures of gelatinous zooplankton (like jellyfish) that would be
  • by oceanbites 11 months ago
    Did you know horseshoe crabs have more than just two eyes? In these juveniles you can see another set in the middle of the shell. Check out our website to learn about some awesome horseshoe crab research.  #oceanbites   #plankton   #horseshoecrabs 
WP2Social Auto Publish Powered By : XYZScripts.com