Thursday, March 24, 2011

Of plastics, the sea and flip flop art

Since last post, I have been to a lot of sessions about plastic, its forms, its names, its properties and its effects on the sea and creatures from microbes to sea birds to humans. The theme is that there is a lot of research still to be done to pinpoint the exact effects but there are also a few points that are getting repeated concerning plastic:
  • Sea birds, fish and other creatures are ingesting it. One presenter found a fish that was 2.5" long and had 83 pieces of microplastic in its stomach.
  • Plastics both give off (leech) and absorb chemicals that are known to be toxic.
  • The processes of bio accumulation and bio magnification are in play (magnifying the amount of plastic in animals as you go up the food chain).
  • Plastic is an important fact of our daily lives, however, we must do everything we can to keep it out of our oceans.
Tomorrow morning, I am looking forward to a session with representatives from both
Coca Cola and the American Chemistry Council talking about partnerships to address the fact that no one wants their product ending up in the seas.

To balance out the somewhat alarming information about plastics and photos of seabird and fish stomachs full of plastic pellets, I had a wander around the Sixth Gyre: Art, Oceans and Plastic Pollution exhibit. Best to let the art do the talking but there were some cool and clever uses for everything from toothbrushes to some incredible sculptures made from found flip flop foam.

Lastly, I signed off the last post with my excitement over going for a swim. And it was beautiful. I love swimming. I love swimming in a clear, blue, warm, windy ocean. I love swimming in a clear, blue, warm, windy, fish-filled, trash-free because-there-are-a-lot-of-motivated-people-psyched-and-ready-to-do-something-about-the-problem ocean.

Tomorrow is the last day of the conference.
There will not be another for at least 4 years, so I need to sponge up everything I can.


Wednesday, March 23, 2011

The trash all looks the same

I am here in Honolulu for the 5th International Marine Debris Conference, and am a lucky and better person for it. I have learned an incredible amount and met smart, amazing people who are as dedicated as they are able to get on and deal with the problems of marine debris. And we are only at the start of the middle day

There are people here presenting on projects and studies happening all over the world and I have to say that one striking observation is that I have now seen hundreds of photos of beaches with piles of trash and debris... and they all look the same. A gear ball on a beach in Korea looks the same as those found in the NW islands of Hawaii, or in Maryland, or by me and James on the beaches of Rockport, MA last week. One consistent message here is that it is one ocean and we are all connected. I knew that, but seeing the photos puts out some good supporting evidence.

Some highlights so far:
-A presentation by Jean-Michel Cousteau. He is (appropriately) pissed about the state of the oceans but has some incredible experiences he shared and an overall message of hope. AND I got to have a chat and a photo with him. I would have been happy to meet any member of the Cousteau family including the family dog, but having a chat with the man who is carrying on Jacques Cousteau's mission was very cool.

-A workshop on the hydrodynamics of marine debris taught by some of the brightest oceanographers in the world. Some of what I learned will directly help our research coming up this summer looking for increased accumulation zones around the Eastern Maine Coastal Current and I have a new appreciation for statistics classes.

-A presentation by Amber York from WHOI (Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute) on a project called HabCam which is an incredibly high resolution camera towed behind a boat. She showed evidence of plastic bottles and other similar debris we find 70+ miles offshore. That is something we are looking forward to doing more work on investigating.

-Presentations by Kara Lavender-Law and other scientists from SEA (Sea Education
Association) on their work on micro-plastics in the North Atlantic. Check it out in the Journal Science. And it is cool that so long ago on Westward-111, I helped gather some of the data (plastic) they used in their study.

There is so much more... a marine debris art exhibit, presentation from the Ocean Conservancy, and just meeting people from all over the world who feel the same way I do about the ocean and trash in it.

Today I have a workshop on outreach efforts and spreading accurate and inspiring information about the problem followed by marine debris movie night. I can't wait... but first my awesome hosts are taking me swimming off Diamond Head. I will say hello to the fishes for all of you and send another report soon.

For a clean ocean,


Friday, March 18, 2011

Wanted: Changemaker/Intern

Job Title: Changing the World- with a little bit of everything else thrown in

Job Summary: skills required

  1. Ability to change the world (clean the oceans, inspire others, inspire yourself, become a world recognized environmental leader)
  2. Educator: lead marine debris education programs at each tour stop
  3. Scientist: Help collect and collate marine debris data during Tour and research expedition
  4. Sailor: Help sail and stand watch on Rozalia Project's 60ft sailboat, American Promise, during the Tour
  5. Cook: Lead in meal preparation. Crew and guests will be responsible to help with prep, cooking and cleaning under your leadership.
  6. Voyage supply coordinator: Prepare menu, conduct provisioning of supplies
  7. Jack of all trades: We are a small organization, so from the founder/director downwards on any one day we can be found cleaning the toilet to driving ROV'S or up to our elbows in grease in the engine compartment. P.S. please do not be afraid of dirt, our mission is to pick up trash.
  8. Must like dogs as 2 of the crew members are Newfoundlands, Smudge and Hickory. They are super friendly and only eat the occasional small child.

Remuneration: $200/week plus bed, food (when on American Promise) and all the adventure, experience and dog you can handle.

Dates: June 22 – End of August (with opportunities to continue through the end of October).

Location: Starts in Albany, NY sailing down the Hudson, across Long Island Sound and along the New England Coast. See for full Tour Schedule.

Rozalia Project for a Clean Ocean is a 501c3 nonprofit whose mission is to find and remove marine debris from our oceans, bays, rivers and waterways through action, technology, outreach and research.

The Rozalia Project Trash Tour 2011 is a multi-stop marine debris removal project. The tour will be conducted from Rozalia Project’s mothership American Promise, a 60’ sailing research vessel equipped with state-of-the-art, surface to sea floor trash hunting technology: 2 remotely operated vehicles (ROVs), side scan sonar, imaging sonar and an image enhancement system along with hand-held and towed nets used for surface and mid-water column marine debris collection. She is ready to implement and achieve Rozalia Project’s Trash Tour objectives:

  • Remove a projected 9.4 tons in approximately 29,550 individual pieces of marine debris from the environment
  • Educate and inspire a projected 5,000 people who will visit the boat or take part in dockside and onboard marine debris programs at community waterfront centers throughout NY, Long Island Sound and New England
  • Conduct the following scientific study: Using tidelines, convergences and eddies in the Eastern Maine Coastal Current (EMCC) to locate accumulation zones of marine debris

The tour will cover 1,765 nautical miles and 24,231 acres as we search and clean-up the marine environment.

For more information about Rozalia Project for a Clean Ocean and the Trash Tour 2011 see or

Still interested and psyched to be part of an exciting project and adventure that will make a difference? Please send a letter, resume and references to:

Rachael Miller or James Lyne

Office: 802-767-3784

Mobile: 802-578-6120