Saturday, June 27, 2009

Day 31 - June26

Life Guard Station 26, Ocean Park, Santa Monica CA
trash collected for 20 min.
estimated trash collected today - 2.7
estimated trash collected to date - 181.4
My first trash of the day.
All this says is, "Get Quenched." It does not say, "and then ditch your cup."
Recreational Water Illness happens frequently in the ocean at the coastal beaches. Many surfers in Southern California get sick from eye, ear, throat, and other infections from swimming in contaminated water. What contaminates the water? One of the things that does is raw sewage. So when I saw the sign posted on the restroom at Life Guard Station 26, I had to hope that the backup wasn't backing into the ocean. 
If you would like to know more about how to prevent R.W.I.'s click here. 
Did you know that cows stand in the same direction in a field unless under a major power line? Click here to read an article about this. Gulls, I have noticed, flock together on the beach at sunset to enjoy the view in a group. I like to think that they are watching the sun set over the Pacific Ocean. Wouldn't you if you lived on the beach? Instead of a magnetic sense, like the cows, it seems like common sense.
I used three bags to hold all of the trash I collected today. Sigh. Most of it was fast food drink containers, and plastic sand toys. 
I do love sand castles. If you would like to see pictures of the World Sand Castle Championships, click here.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Day 30 - June 24

Life Guard Station 26, Ocean Park, Santa Monica CA
trash collected for 20 min.
estimated pounds collected today - 3.9
estimated pounds collected to date - 178.7
My daily plastic water bottle...
By the way, the West Los Angeles/Malibu Chapter meeting is next Tues., June 30, at the Santa Monica Youth Hostel, at 7:00. 
Santa Monica Youth Hostel is located at 1436 Second St., Santa Monica 90401
Do The Dew! Isn't that the slogan put forth by this brand? How about Recycle the Dew Damnit!
Does it have the same ring? Maybe not........
Here is another link for a site called The Action Recycling Center 
There you can find out fun facts like:
United States in two weeks produces enough cans, if stacked end on end, would be high enough to reach the moon.
I've mentioned Dr. Carl Safina before of the Blue Ocean Institute, which can be found in my links section of this blog. As I was uploading my pictures I went to my bookshelf to find his book, Voyage of the Turtle, which is missing. Rats!
But I found Song for the Blue Ocean, also a great book by Dr. Safina.

"For each pound of shrimp kept, two to eight pounds of sea creatures are killed and dumped. In the western Pacific, the region with the highest by-kill, an inconceivable-but measurable-nine million metric tons of marine life are killed and discarded annually." - Song for the Blue Ocean.
What does a plastic sand toy turtle have to do with shrimp you may ask? Well, a lot. Until the 90's shrimp nets had no exit for turtles to get out of their nets that drag across the ocean floor. Turtles graze on sea grasses and other things there, and so were often caught in the nets. They died. Now there is something called Turtle Escape Devices, or T.E.D. for short, that are put into the back of the net. It works like a trap door to let the turtles out. This was a 20 year battle that Dr. Safina expands on in Voyage of the Turtle, a book mostly about the Leatherback Turtle. He also says that, "Shrimp fishing is like going deer hunting, and cutting down the forest to find the deer." 
I choose not to eat shrimp. I also don't mention it when I am with friends at a sushi restaurant, but maybe I should. I try to just be an example, and if it comes up, tell them why I don't eat shrimp. I don't want to be a "preachy tree-hugger", but perhaps I should mention it more. Many people do not know why shrimp fishing is so destructive. 
"I've learned that you can't please everyone, and that it is best not to try to. My feeling is: Know yourself, and allow yourself to be known, and you will have lived." - Dr. Safina
I guess I'm mentioning the shrimp....

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Day 29 - June 21

Life Guard Station 26, Ocean Park, Santa Monica, CA
trash collected for 20 minutes
estimated pounds of trash collected today - 2
estimated pounds of trash collected to date - 174.8
A plastic drinking bottle top. Today I collected one disposable plastic water bottle. I collect at least one every time I am out there. 
A plastic To-Go lid.
I found a pair of flower wreaths on the beach. They looked beautiful washed up on the sand. A Midsummer's Night at the ocean. 
There are going to me pictures of trash, waves, sea birds, and beach landscapes in this blog. I get nervous thinking ahead to how I am going to make all of them appear interesting given the inevitable repetition I am facing with my subject matter. There is one picture that I will never grow tired of taking, or worry if it is going to be too repetitive, and that is the light at sunset on the water. The golden color that reflects off the surface of the water is striking every time I see it. 
But there is something that I wish I never had to see again. That is the image of this sea gull swallowing a large piece of plastic sideways down its throat as I watched. I was only steps away from getting it to drop the plastic. (I was hoping to anyway.) I set my bag of trash I had collected on the sand to take pictures of the water. I turned back and saw it pick at the bag. I chased the gull away only to see it land a few feet from me and grab a large, flat piece of plastic that I had not seen to collect. Before I could do anything the bird swallowed it sideways. It really upset me. I know that I sound dramatic, but I felt awful that I was so close to the bird and couldn't prevent it from swallowing something that may kill it. It did not choke, but over time, if it continues to swallow plastics that cannot pass through its digestive track, it will die. This was the last thing I saw as I left the beach. It motivated me to come back tomorrow. Garen says that the bird may be able to regurgitate it. I hope so.  
There is a picture that I was thinking about that I saw in a book on the Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument in Hawaii. It is embedded in this blog in an article entitled, "Our Oceans Are Turning Into Plastic. Are We?"  The picture is of a dead sea gull that died from digesting plastic. The above link to the monument will only lead you to an inspiring marine sanctuary. Please explore that site, Papahanaumokuekea is unbelievable. 

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Day 28 - June 17

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 - 172.8
It was about as funny to find this pair of men's under-ware, as the cute phrase printed on them.
"A picture says a thousand words," I think that's how the saying goes.......
Glad the yellow stuff that glows was still inside. 
The chemicals used to create this reaction in glow sticks are usually hydrogenperoxide and a mixture of phenyl oxalate ester and the fluorescent dye that gives the glow stick its color. 


Glow sticks contain hydrogen peroxide, and phenol is produced as a by-product. Therefore, it is advisable to keep the mixture away from skin, and to prevent accidental ingestion, if the glow stick case splits or breaks. If spilled on skin, the chemicals could cause slight skin irritation, and swelling or, in extreme circumstances, cause vomiting and nausea. However, many ravers will cut or break open a glow stick and apply the glowing solution directly to bare skin in order to make their bodies glow. It has been said that glow stick chemicals cause cancer,[10] although no research has suggested that they might. Also it is wise to avoid all contact with thin membranes such as the eye or nasal area. Despite reports to the contrary, it is not safe to smoke or ingest glowing phenol, and it will not produce any drug-like effects. The fluid contained in glow sticks can also dissolve some types of plastic.

- wikipedia. yummy.

I keep thinking about corporate responsibility in regards to beach trash, and perhaps litter in general. Is it enough to put something "green" on your label? I would like to see them promoting clean-ups, education and pioneering support for alternative packaging that is not going to be around forever. That's right, plastic is here for good. All of the plastic that has, or will be produced, since the 1950's is never going to biodegrade. Nope, it just breaks down into smaller and smaller particles. 
Garen made the point that as least this is biodegradable. True, but the beach isn't a produce isle. I thought it was funny actually. Whoever left their watermelon must have done so intentionally. After the towels have been shaken out, and the bags packed to go back to the car, how do you miss this?
Beach reflection in Garen's glasses. Thanks Garen for coming out with me today. 

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Day 27 - June 16

Life Guard Station 26, Ocean Park, Santa Monica CA
trash collected for 20 min.
estimated pounds collected today - 3
estimated pounds collected to date - 170.3
There is no smoking on the beach. After I parked in front of this sign and snapped the picture, I got out of my car and saw two people smoking within 50 feet of the sign.
Then I walked to the boardwalk out to the beach and within a 3 foot area of sand, I picked up 16 cigarette butts before I left the sidewalk.
Ironic. Let me take this opportunity to talk about toothed whales. Shamu is a toothed whale, and so are dolphins. There are two main classes of whales, baleen whales and toothed whales. 
Some examples of toothed whales are dolphins, Killer whales, Sperm whales, and Beluga whales.
Some examples of baleen whales are Humpback whales, and Blue whales. 
The Blue Whale is the largest animal to live on the earth ever! Larger than any dinosaur. They eat krill, small shrimp-like crustaceans which are one of the smallest animals in the ocean. They eat 40 million krill in one day! WOW!
The largest Blue Whales have been clocked in at 200 TONS! Their tongues are as heavy as an elephant. Their heart is as large as a VW Beattle Bug Car. And you could crawl through their Aorta Heart valve. Insane!
Another brand for my collection of candy wrappers.
This muscle shell had a beautiful orange pearl-shell.
Garen, my husband, works for Santa Monica College. Yesterday was graduation day. We went to a luncheon that honored an alumni named Dr. Richard Grigg, or Ricky Grigg as he is known in the surfing world. He is a big wave surfer who after graduating from Stanford, and Scripps, has lived in Hawaii. He taught oceanography for 30 years at UH, Manoa. He specializes in corals, and coral reefs. He is an amazing guy. He relayed a poem to us. I want to share it here:

I do not know what I may appear to the world, but to myself I seem to have been only like a boy playing on the sea-shore, and diverting myself in now and then finding a smoother pebble or a prettier shell than ordinary, whilst the great ocean of truth lay all undiscovered before me. - Issac Newton

Here I am in Rowayton, Ct. on Long Island Sound. This picture was taken the day after my second birthday. I have been thinking about when, and how my relationship to the ocean began. I have been asking myself, "Why do I care so much?" I think this picture speaks for itself. 

Ricky Griggs also shared this quote:

May your joys be as deep as the ocean and your troubles as light as the foam. - Unknown


Monday, June 15, 2009

Day 26 - June 11

Life Guard Station 26, Ocean Park, Santa Monica CA
trash collected for 20 min.
estimated pounds of trash collected today - 1.2
estimated pounds of trash collected to date - 167.3
Candy Wrappers - are one of the top four kinds of trash found polluting the ocean. As I have mentioned before, there is a mass of plastics, and other kinds of trash swirling in the pacific, it is called the Pacific Trash Gyre. Larger than the size of the continental United States, many people have said that cleaning it up would be a hopeless endeavor. But not the people who started Project Kaisei . This is very good news!!!

Project Kaisei consists of a team of innovators, ocean lovers, sailors, scientists, sports enthusiasts and environmentalists who have come together with a common purpose. To study how to capture plastic waste in the ocean and how to capture, detoxify and recycle it into diesel fuel.

Ok, I'm only guessing, but I find so many of these plastic filters on the beach that I think this is the end of a cigar you can buy, and re-roll into a joint. I say this because when I was in High School, we used to buy "Philly Blunts" and I vaguely remember the filter being plastic. I could be wrong. I feel so dated and out of touch. I just find it hard to believe that day after day people come to the beach and rip off the end of their cigar and leave this plastic treasure behind. I think it more likely that people come to the beach to smoke a joint and leave this part behind in their stoned state. I could be completely wrong, and what does this have to do with my blog? I'm on a tangent, but if you smoke pot, and use a store bought cigar with a plastic filter, please pick it up when you go. Thanks.
Nothing fancy, and I can't think of a good link, just more plastic from plastic beverage bottles. Hurray. 
It is difficult, if not impossible, to capture the expansiveness of the sky at the beach on a clear day. I tried. This picture, and the next, are my attempts at relaying that view.

Our friend's dogs in Hawaii. They are living the life! Judy, one of our friends, works at the Hawaiian Institute of Marine Biology. They have many fascinating projects there. 
The Shark Lab is one of them. 

Here are some facts about sharks that I would like to share here. Garen read this article to me out of July/August 2009 Alert Diver Magazine:

1. 10 - The average number of humans killed by sharks each year.
2. 20 - 100 MILLION - the number of sharks killed by humans each year.
3. 2 months - how long a great white shark can go without feeding. 
4. 400 million - how many years sharks have been in existence. They were on the planet even before the dinosaurs. 

It seems in our best interest, and the best interest of the planet, to figure out how to stop killing sharks. One reason we kill them is to put their fins into soup. I think that through education, we can stop this from happening. 
If you would like to sign the petition circling to end shark finning, click here.
The link is to the Ocean Conservancy Website. Please visit there to learn a lot more about most of the important issues in marine conservation.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Day 25 - June 10

Life Guard Station 26, Ocean Park, Santa Monica
trash collected for 20 min.
estimated trash collected today - 2.9
estimated trash collected to date - 166.1
There is an earlier post I did where you can see the imprint of someone sitting in the sand who had left a drink cup to their left, and an empty paper plate of food on their right. They had clearly enjoyed a meal while looking at the ocean, and left their trash behind when they walked off the beach. 
I see a similar scene here. Someone had an Ocean Spray Cranberry Juice, a smoke, and offered these as a present to the ocean for their peace of mind they enjoyed while on the beach. 

Today a sense of frustration is sinking in the longer I do this project. We are drowning our beaches and oceans in cigarette butts, plastic bottles, plastics, fast food wrappers and candy wrappers. That is what I see over, and over again. I read that statistic, but I am now seeing the statistic every time I am out here. It seems so easy to solve this problem! Well, like the Star Trek movie about the Humpback Whales said, "It's amazing they ever got our of the 20th century." They were talking about us, the Human Race, and I'd have to agree. We can send men into space, but we can't throw our trash away after enjoying the beach? Doesn't add up, it just doesn't. 'bout them Mets! Ha! It is easy to feel dragged down, lets look at the next picture, that will help, and the point of why I don't just photograph trash.....
Beautiful..........most likely someone stuck this feather into the sand. Maybe the same person who drank the Cranberry Juice......that's the thing about people, we are capable of so much in either direction. A study in opposites.
This is a bad picture. But I had to include this anyway. I saw a Coast Guard Helicopter hover feet above this small fishing boat just off shore and lower a man into the water next to it. A drug bust, a rescue to save someone who needs transportation to a hospital because of a heart attack? I don't know, but it was cool to see. The chopper was so loud from the shore, I can only imagine what it sounded like to the people on board.
In my last post, I talked about how my relationship with the ocean started when I was young. I had learned to body surf in the Atlantic. Then I remembered that I had this picture of myself doing just that. So I have included it here. That's me, surfing in the waves from a passing ferry boat off the shore of Block Island, Rhode Island. I loved summers there. Chicken salad sandwiches with grapes, and a little bit of sand. No better lunch in the world.

Also, I've mentioned this before, but only briefly. Just about every time I am out collecting trash someone says thank you to me. They usually go out of their way to make eye contact and say it. Sometimes I get a sentiment like, "You're an awesome person." This is always nice to hear. I don't think that what I am doing is extraordinary, but I think that some people recognize the effort and I hope the point is that they then feel inspired to do the same.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Day 25 - June 8

Life Guard Station 26, Ocean Park Santa Monica, California
trash collected for 20 min.
estimated trash collected today - 2.1
estimated trash collected to date - 163.2
I see plastic water bottles every time I am out there collecting trash. I wonder, "Should I take another picture of a water bottle? How boring." I think about these thoughts and laugh. This is exactly the point. There are a ton of water bottles littering the beach. If it wasn't disturbing, it would be boring. To make my point about how many I find, I think I will take a picture of every one that I find. Yes, it will be shot after shot of plastic water bottles with various brand labels, but maybe the quantity of the bottles I find will help make the statement that we need to clean them up. There are just too many.
Something else I was thinking about on my walk was that the trash can look beautiful out here. Especially the clear plastics, and the plastic bags when they are wet. I played with the composition of this shot to illustrate what I was thinking. But, I would rather look up and down the beach and see no trash at all.
This struck me as a little ironic. Let me use this space to highlight my local Surfrider Chapter.
Come hear students from Santa Monica High School talk about the state of the water in the Bay based upon water quality samples they've been taking throughout the year.

What: Teach & Test Year End Presentation and Celebration
When: 7 pm, June 11, 2009
Where: Arbor, 102 Washington Boulevard, Venice CA 90292

Please RSVP to
Food, drinks and killer raffle prizes!
Surfrider Foundation West Los Angeles/Malibu Chapter
This picture made me think about a person's relationship to the sea. It started for me this way. I was a little girl, learning to body surf in the Atlantic Ocean. Being in the ocean is a singular experience. You may be with friends, but you are alone in the three feet of water that separates you from them. You are also definitely alone when you look into an oncoming wave, or up at the horizon where the water disappears over the edge of the world. In those moments, a relationship between you and the water forms. It is one that either draws you in year after year, or lets you out without caring if you come back. It depends on the person. Maybe you are born with the desire to be in the water, and the love for it. Maybe you can be convinced to care, and come to like being in the water. In either case, it is a personal experience, and perhaps a relationship you can find comfort in for the rest of your life.