Saturday, May 30, 2009

Day 21 - May 30

Life Guard Station 26, Ocean Park, Santa Monica
trash collected for 20 min.
estimated pounds collected today - 2.5
estimated pounds collected to date - 151
Ocean Acidification - What is that you say? Well, it is not good, and it impacts shells. The acidity of the ocean is increasing.
Here is a very brief explanation.

Carbon Dioxide levels in the atmosphere are rising. We create carbon dioxide when we drive a car. There are a lot of cars being driven around the world. This is one of the biggest ways Carbon Dioxide, or CO2, is created.
The ocean absorbs the CO2 from the atmosphere, and when it does, it turns CO2 into Carbonic Acid. This acid is making the acidity level in the oceans increase. The PH balance of the sea water is changing, and becoming more acidic.

Shells and Coral Reefs are formed by Calcium Carbonate. The acidity in the water erodes the Calcium Carbonate, making it harder for Coral Reefs and shells to form. A Coral Reef is a major marine habitat for many, many animals. Also, the creatures that live in shells, mussels and crabs to name a couple, are the food source for a lot of marine animals.

Think about what will happen if the ocean water keeps becoming more acidic, and these food sources and habitats are no longer able to be formed?

If you would like a further explanation, and a more level-headed one, click here to read a Science Daily article explaining recent studies on Ocean Acidification.
Oil Spills - Lets cover all the really cheery topics in one post. It will insure that you keep coming back to read more! I know, awareness about the major problems facing us in marine and environmental conservation can be upsetting. I have often wanted to just cry DOOMED, WE'RE DOOMED. But these same feelings, if I sit with them long enough, can make me do some funny things, like start a blog and collect trash!
Maybe you can come up with a similar antidote. Maybe you already do.

This is a website I found - similar to Heal the Bay in Santa Monica where I live - that addresses San Francisco Bay and the Oil Spill of 2007. click here to see their site and support their efforts.
"On November 7, 2007, the Cosco Busan ran into a Bay Bridge tower in heavy fog, dumping more than 50,000 gallons of thick fuel oil into San Francisco Bay. Fouling 56 miles of shoreline and killing 3,000 birds, the spill was a tragedy. The outpouring of public concern following the spill proved how much the community loves our Bay and understands that a healthy Bay is vital for our quality of life and economy." - Save the Bay

The feather that I have posted above, is from my local beach, found on May 29, 2009. It reminded me of this tragic accident.
More plastic bottles. So many of them never get recycled. A stainless steel water bottle is a great alternative to this. It keeps the water cold for a long time, and is reusable indefinitely.
I pick up a lot of straws. I'm talking about 5-10 every time I am out there. It is a boring picture, but I needed to mention it because of how many I come across.
Ahhhh, end on a good note. It was a beautiful day to be walking on the beach. Lots of people enjoyed themselves and I collected some trash so that it did not get sucked into the water. Small steps.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Day 20 - May 27

Life Guard Station 26, Ocean Park, Santa Monica
trash collected for 20 min.
estimated pounds for today -10
estimated pounds to date - 148.5
I interviewed a Santa Monica  Area South Lifeguard Capt., Brent Katzer
He is very familiar with Life Guard Station 26.
My thanks to him for taking a few minutes out of his day to answer some questions.
Our interview is what follows:

1. What kind of trash to you see most often on this part of the beach?
"Plastics, cigarette butts, styrafoam...anything that floats and can be brought in when the currents and winds shift....especially after it rains."

You are advised in LA, not to go into the water after it rains for 2 - 3 days because the toxins and trash that wash in, mostly from storm drains. We need a new drainage system, and awareness not to dump trash even inland in the city.

 - I took the picture of the Beach Ordinances because, if you didn't know, you can't smoke on the beach. But, one of the answers Brent gave was cigarette butts. I wonder what the solution is. A lot of  the cig. butts wash in, but some wash out. I stopped a policeman riding a A.T.V. today to ask him what the fine was for smoking on the beach. He didn't know, and said that it is mostly tourists who need to be told to put out their cigarette. How many get left in that sand that way? I would bet most.
2. What is the worst example of trash you have seen on the beach?
"Life Guard Station 26 is an interesting place...there is a lot of illicit night activity see a higher number of cigarette butts, and prophylactics....hygienic trash."

3. What is something that you have seen at the beach that inspires you?

"When organizations like Heal the Bay have beach cleanups....when kids come out and participate....when other patrons pick up trash on their own."

Another organization that hosts local beach cleanups is Surfrider. They also have monthly chapter meetings in Venice Beach, or elsewhere in CA, and in many other states. Check them out. You do NOT have to be a surfer to join. I'm not, and I have been a member for a long time. 
Garen, my husband who is a Marine Biologist, says that these seagulls were searching for small crustaceans (crab-like-critters) and worms in the sand.
I looked these gulls up on a site my friend sent me recently. Inspired by a biologist named E.O. Wilson, it is called -
I guessed that what I saw was a mature California Gull, and a juvenile California Gull because before they turn 3 - 4 yrs. they have a brown mottled feather look.

Talking about E.O. Wilson brings to mind one of my favorite sites 

TED - ideas worth sharing 

Above is the link to Wilson's talk. But at this site you can find many fascinating people who have been given 15 - 20 min. to give a talk about what they do. Scientists, politicians, authors, Bono (only if you want to watch him, do you have to:)). I strongly recommend that you check it out.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Day 19 - May 26

Life Guard Station 26, Ocean Park, Santa Monica CA
trash collected for 20 min.
estimated pounds collected today - 2.5
estimated pounds collected to date - 138.5
I hate when I see a piece of trash right next to the water, and I don't make it in time to pick it up. It bums me out when I see it wash back into the ocean. This is funny to me because I DO get so many pieces of trash off the beach. It is a gut reaction I have. I guess that feeling is a part of the same feelings that brought me to the beach today.
Candy wrappers and beach tar. The beach tar is natural, but smells like tar, and is really hard to get off flip-flops. There was a ton out there today. 
Lately, I find myself thinking a few thoughts that are not the point when I am collecting.
1. I think - when it is windy - "I need a big piece of trash to keep my bag weighed down in the wind." - NO I DON'T. I HOPE MY BAG REMAINS EMPTY.
2. I think - "I hope that there's more trash at the water line, it's easier to walk there than on the soft sand." NOT THE POINT, I COLLECT TRASH WHEREVER IT IS.
3. I think - "I hope I find something really gross today." WOW - AGAIN, I SHOULD HOPE I FIND NOTHING. WOULDN'T IT BE NICE IF I HAD NO PICTURES OF TRASH TO POST?
Then I hit the "jackpot". A condom, washed clean. Should I be excited? NO!
Even though the time stamp from my camera is wrong on these pictures, I am posting on the same day that I collected. Meaning, I've caught up, and am now posting in real time. I thought about doing this blog a couple of weeks ago. It has been a time consuming project to learn the bare bone basics of the blog-o-sphere. In fact, it took a lot of my time away from collecting beach trash. I found this frustrating, but there are only so many hours in the day. Garen, ever my voice of reason and positivity, kept reminding me it's all part of it. But now I can go back to more days on the beach. That's the point. And I've thought about this before, when I was writing the introduction to this blog, that I wouldn't be doing this without Garen's influence. He's the glass full guy, and I am perpetually, the glass half empty girl on just about everything. 
So thank you Garen, if you're reading this, you help me feel like life is easier to live. Truly.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Day 18 - May 18

Life Guard Station 26, Ocean Park, Santa Monica CA
trash collected for 20 min. 
estimated pounds collected today - 15
estimated pounds collected to date - 136
How many people enjoy the beach in a summer? says, "Over a Billion people go to the beach in the summer in the USA."
I know that wikipedia doesn't have a lot of credibility. The point is that A LOT of people come to the beach.  They come to play, relax, think, get in the water, be with friends and family, get some sun....I could keep going with this list. I'd like people, especially children, to be able to do that for a long time. 
Grey days make amazing colors. 
Water is not always blue. Actually, I think it's never the same color twice. 
Retrieving wet clothes, or dry really, is something I don't like to do.  This shirt looks like it got a good wash first. Dry is worse.
Clothes are trash when they end up in the ocean.
A website called, Can Manufacturers Institute, has some fun recycling facts about cans.

It's estimated that since 1972 some 18.7 million tons of aluminum have been recycled. These 1,099 billion aluminum cans placed end-to-end could stretch to the moon and back some 174 times.

Crows. I love crows. I especially love crows when I see them on the beach.
So I have included a few too many pictures in this post of one that I watched at the end of my collection time. 
I've recently finished a Young Adult novel, and in it, there is a crow named Azrael. Maybe I saw him today. The book takes place on the beach, and under the water. It's taken me 2 & 1/2 years to write. Just going back over it for the next few weeks to get it polished up. What's next? I'll see...

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Day 17 - May 14 part two

To learn new information and retain it, I believe that people need to feel good about themselves, and what they are learning. At least I believe that this approach is an effective way to teach, but one that is not always possible. 
As I sit here and write, I am trying to come up with a way to promote the positive learning I am talking about. However, sometimes there are no easy ways to deliver information that is just a plain ol' bummer. So with that said, I bring you part two of Day 14. 
A few startling realizations happened at the end of picking up our trash collection for the day.

1. There are, on average, 10 - 12 trash cans between Life Guard Stations at Ocean Park Beach. 

2. They are mostly empty.  They are mostly empty, most of the time. See the picture below.
I would like to say that the trash cans are empty because there just isn't a lot of trash on the beach to put in them. That would be a lie. 
Garen is pretending to be a human scale. But here's the thing, just as we were finishing up, we saw a family's worth of trash spread out on the sand in front of us. We passed them on our collection walk maybe 10 min. earlier. On our way back to parking lot 5 at Ocean Park, we noticed they had eaten on the beach, and left everything. 
That's right, all of their plates, and cups, and wrappers, and plastic cutlery. All of it. There were already many Seagulls eating the trash. I had a couple of pieces of Sourdough Bread to feed some birds from the end of a loaf at our house, so I distracted the birds, while Garen cleaned up the mess. And it doubled the amount of trash he collected for the entire 20 min. in one blanket indented spot on the sand. 

There's one other thing. The family had seen us pass, and looked at us collect trash off the beach from a very close proximity. (I remember feeling self conscience to collect too close to them because I already saw wrappers lying near them, and I try not to invade people's space while I walk around.) At least, I assume they saw as I passed them closely, and a woman watched what I was doing. 

But maybe it didn't register with her. Maybe it didn't make sense at all to see me bent over, and picking cigarette butts from the sand. I like to think that when people act irresponsibly towards the environment, or their community, they do it because they don't know why they need to care yet. When it comes to environmental conservation and stewardship, there are many, many people left to reach. I'd like to think that some people are slower to catch on to what I like to believe is a Green Movement, a Green Revolution! Ha, that would be great, a Green Revolution. 
Anyway, I'd like to believe a powerful solution is that we need to keep environmental education going, and raising awareness in our own communities until it travels exponentially through our entire population. Cultural differences be damned!
Because the other alternative is much harder to address than ignorance. The alternative is that this family was too lazy to bring their trash 50 feet to a nearly empty trash can. And that they left everything right there on the beach, and right in front of their children. Ignorance and laziness are two options that I'd rather not choose from at all. But one has a solution, and one is corrosive. 

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Day 17 - May 14 part one

Life Guard Station 26, Ocean Park, Santa Monica CA
estimated ponds collected today - 7
estimated pounds collected to date - 113
I may get tired of pretty sunset shots as I continue this project. Or, I may not. If you do, I apologize. It's just that every time I see the sun setting on the ocean, it strikes me as a particularly beautiful landscape to witness. Put simply, it makes me feel better about the world. 
This is my husband Garen. He is a Marine Biologist and he teaches full time at Santa Monica community college. If you take Marine Biology there, you will go on an optional trip to Morro Bay where you'll see Elephant Seals, sea birds galore, and families of otters. I'm going in the fall. 
Dr. Garen Baghdasarian is his offical title because he did his Phd. on environmental factors affecting coral bleaching and recovery of corals from bleaching events. He's the coolest, I'm proud of him. This sounds corny perhaps, but being proud of your partner is a gift I don't take for granted. Alright, moving on. I just heard a loud collective AWWWWWWH from my friends. 
I thought it was a little ironic to find a cup with this "Hang Ten Ocean Theme" on the side of this plastic cup. Did you know that all of the plastic that has ever been made since the 1950's is here, and it is not going anywhere? It just breaks down to smaller and smaller pieces until they have found out recently that even the smallest organisms in the oceans are eating it. Plastic is now a major part of the food chain.

"According to the Blue Ocean Society for Marine Conservation, more than a million birds and 100,000 marine mammals and sea turtles die every year from eating or getting entangled in plastic."

This quote is taken from a blog that I think looks helpful. Click here to see the entire post that I quoted and check out the site
                                                                  Yummy. Ugh.
Garen and I unearthed this treasure. I always like when we go together. Double the fun. Well, actually  it is empowering to do this project, but not fun to find bud ice in the sand. Ice is not Nice
Stand up paddle surfing reminds me of Hawaii. I always visualize ancient Hawaiians riding the waves this way. I have no idea if they did or not, so I will read more from this site. You can too if you clicked on "this site" in case you missed the cue.
Another amazing way to end the day. Standing here and watching this.

Day 16 - May 12

Life Guard Station 26, Ocean Park, Santa Monica CA
est. lbs. collected today - 5
est. lbs. to date - 106
Like I've said in a previous post, the most common types of trash found on beaches, or in the ocean, are
1. cigarette butts
2. candy wrappers
3. fast food wrappers
So what if we asked major corporations to spend some of their earnings on education about ocean conservation? They could support existing organizations that already do this, help coastal cities with their beach clean-up sanitation services, and invest in alternative packaging technologies. Sound crazy? Maybe some already do. I'll research this and report back in a later post. 
I see major brand name food and beverage empires with their wrappers everywhere on the beach. Ultimately it is up to us to do the responsible thing and dispose of our trash. But, it is their packaging, on their products, that is polluting the water. I'd like to know what you think. Ideas? The ocean is being littered by this kind of trash daily. We need solutions other than trash collection.

Sunset in Santa Monica at Ocean Park looking at the municipal pier.

The only benefit to smog in Los Angeles is a beautiful sunset.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Day 15 - May 11

Let's start with the good stuff. When I am out here doing this, I get to see colors like these on the beach.  One of many benefits from doing this project.
Life Guard Station 26, Ocean Park, Santa Monica CA
est. lbs. today - 8
est. lbs. to date - 101
Does it alarm you too that I can pick up 8 pounds of trash in 20 min.?
Barefoot and beach go together like lemonade on a summer day.  But wait, you'd want to watch your step here. I should have put something next to these nails for scale. You'll have to take my word for it. They were sticking out of the wood about 3 inches. 
I guess if I had to choose where to find this, on the beach or on the sand, I'd pick the sand. I wouldn't like to be the surfer coming off their board, and stepping on this on the way out.
But, it didn't go back in the water this day. Small steps make me feel better.
I had two Seagulls follow me today.  I like this shot of one of them. I see real personality here, but maybe you just see a bird.  In any case, I like the photo, hope you do too.
Another beautiful view at the end of my walk.