Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Day 324 - Sept. 4, 2012

lifeguard tower 26 - Ocean Park, Santa Monica CA
trash collected for 20 min.
4.7 pounds
1,229.9 pounds total 

10 cigarettes total 

While body surfing this morning, I told my friend Bob about an article explaining caffeine pollution from human waste (pee-pee) and how it could be affecting the marine environment. 
"No, no I don't believe that. The ocean's too big," he said. 
"But you haven't seen the article," I said. 
"What, you believe everything you read on the internet?" 
No. Gulp. 

I wasn't prepared with the facts. I'd come to my savvy, skeptical friends and hadn't been prepared. After looking up said internet article, it turns out this information is legit. A collaboration between researchers at Portland State University and the Toxic Substances Hydrology Program of the USGS are just two of the expert sources quoted in the article featured on National Geographic. 

Bob's right. We should question what we read. And it goes without saying, we should question what we read on the internet. But what sticks with me most from our conversation is the notion that the ocean is too big. This is a dangerous idea. It's just not true anymore. Sure, at one time when there were less people on the planet, our impacts weren't felt as directly. 

But with over 7 billion of us wandering around, this idea needs to shift with the times. It is unfathomable that we can affect something as vast as the world's oceans, but at this point denying that we do has to stop. We do, and the great news then is that we can do something to change the varied and many problems our environment faces because of us. 
Who knew switching to decaf could be a start!

About 3 minutes to go, there it was on the sand. 

If you look close, the sea gull seems to be hanging out with this little boy and who I assume is his mom. 

Good news! Cook Islands just declared largest Marine Protected Area in the world!

Day 323 - Sept. 2, 2012

lifeguard tower 26 - Ocean Park, Santa Monica
trash collected for 20 min. 
3.5 pounds
1,225.2 pounds total

8 cigarette butts

For the first time I can remember, I got angry doing my 20 min. beach cleanup. I share this to relay the human range of emotions I go through while sticking to this task. Most of the time, I focus on the solutions, leading by example, putting up links in my posts to inform people of larger ocean conservation issues, but this night anger welled up. It had to do with a family, and some styrafoam cups, and some sand castles, but I'll leave it at that. The point is, I didn't shame them, or retaliate when met with their rolling eyes. I quietly picked up the trash surrounding them. I did not want them to have a negative association with beach cleaner-uppers, and therefor the larger issues at hand; protecting our oceans, our families health, and taking a stand for the environment as a whole.

It's the end of summer. People will come to the beach less even in Southern California. I'm looking forward to those fall sunsets when it's me, the sea gulls, some joggers and surfers in their full wetsuits.

I skipped Labor Day last weekend, and I can't remember why. But my hunch is that seeing the trash strewn across the beach over the long weekend, like the 4th of July, or really any Sunday night in the summer, was too much. Here are the two previous years. 
You'll spot the similar items of plastic trash immediately. 

Sunday of Labor Day Weekend, 2010 - September 2, 2010
Sunday of Labor Day Weekend, 2009 - Sept. 6, 2009