Many people wonder how inland states can be connected to the ocean environment. In an episode of Diving Deeper, hosted by NOAA, Jeff Adkins explains how the ocean economy is continental-wide. With that said, this week’s blog will consist of a compilation of reasons inland states are connected to the coastline.
Our restaurants serve seafood- that inevitably, comes from the sea.
Factor in transportation and CO2 emissions, and you could say we are definitely involved in ocean issues
We buy products made in other countries- that export their goods via ships
Our agricultural practices release pesticides into our waterways- and “all drains lead to the ocean”- take it from Nemo
We pollute just as much driving to the mountains as we would driving to the ocean
The filter feeders of the oceans take in the pollutants- and then we eat them- gross.
Our activities result in nonpoint source pollution- rainfall and snowmelt moving over and through the ground collect pollutants and deliver them to the oceans- oil, grease, toxic chemicals from urban development, sediment from construction sites, eroding streambanks
Watersheds include the boundaries of streams and moving waters that lead to the ocean. Therefore, the tiny streams you see on your beautiful hike up the mountains high above a mile are included in these watersheds. Streams are ordered numerically, starting with a first order stream, which is characterized as mountainous, tiny streams that include very few fish and many tiny organisms that scrape their food. Once a first order stream and another first order stream join together, they create a second order stream. These streams may seem pristine and beautiful far away from society, but at some point they will join with a polluted, urban river and continue down the pathway to the ocean.
Ocean Ambassadors is changing their game! We have proudly partnered with loveanimals.org, a campaign to save the sharks!
Loveanimals.org is a crowdfunding campaign, #LoveSharks, launches to encourage shark enthusiasts and others following Shark Week to donate to online fundraising campaigns for nonprofit organizations working with sharks. Crowdfunding websiteLoveAnimals.org is hosting the campaign: http://www.loveanimals.org/lovesharks/
The organizations participating have joined together to raise money for shark conservation. Individual donors can support important projects to: organize a grassroots movement towards stronger shark bycatch rule enforcement, ignite an inland ocean protection movement, protect threatened thresher sharks, and to protest shark finning.
“Thousands of people participate in Shark Week every year,” said Dr Rob Moir of Ocean River Institute. “The #LoveSharks campaign aims to inspire caring people to donate to groups like ours – impacting shark conservation like never before.”
Launched in 2013, LoveAnimals.org helps non-profits raise money for animal projects by hosting free crowdfunding campaigns. Unlike many other crowdfunding websites, LoveAnimals.org is a non-profit organization and takes no administrative fees.
“Most animal nonprofits struggle to raise enough money to cover their operating budgets, let alone fund critically needed projects,” said Sarah Timms, founder of LoveAnimals.org. “LoveAnimals.org is a nonprofit, too, and our mission is to increase giving to animal nonprofits by empowering individuals to help animals.”
Social media is a key component of the campaign, and organizations are asking supporters to share with the hashtag #LoveSharks.
Duhhh nuh. Duhhh nuh. It’s Shark Week and we’re vouching to save our sharks! These beautiful creatures may look scary to the outsider, but they make for amazing companions on our deep-sea dives!
Dangers of sharks
Many people assume that sharks are one of the most dangerous predators on Earth. If you go into more research, you’ll find that out of the 480 (and counting) species of sharks, only four of them are considered dangerous. These four species are the great white, tiger shark, bull shark, and oceanic white tip. That means that less than one percent (0.83% to be exact)- of these sharks are dangerous- and only if you provoke them! If you’re diving or swimming in sharky waters, be sure to stay calm! Remember: sharks don’t have arms- they get to know their surroundings by poking their heads around. We’re in their territory- be respectful!
Why sharks are being killed
There are many reasons why sharks are being killed. They threaten humans with their aggressive behavior. Another reason is shark fin is seen as a delicacy in some European countries, as well as shark oils being used in many products. What is interesting about shark fin soup is that the fin isn’t used for the taste of the soup, rather it is used as a thickening agent for the broth. That is a lot of shark waste for a small bowl of soup! When fisherman aren’t decapitating sharks solely for their fins, they may be collecting cartilage, which can be found in pills and powders of health-related issues such as, asthma, eczema, hemorrhoids, etc. In order to determine whether your medication has to contribute to the declining of shark populations, look for chondroitin on your ingredients label. Sadly, these aren’t the only reasons sharks are being hunted. Another is for their liver, which is used in anti-aging creams, lotions, deodorants, hair conditioners and many other beauty products. These products include shark-based squalene, although many companies have vowed to switch to vegetable-based, so be sure to do your research before purchasing your beauty products! Not only are we unknowingly supporting the sharking industry while getting ready for a date, but we may also be eating it! Shark may be combined with other whitefish products for foods such as fish patties and fish sticks! Depending on the type of purse or shoes you’re wearing on your date, you may even be wearing shark! Many high-end designers like Jimmy Choo have used sharkskin as leather as it is unusually durable. Over 10 shark species are being used for this type of material, and can even be used by companies such as Nike! That’s not all. The use of sharks has extended to our pets- it has been found in pet supplements, specifically for joint health, and even chews toys. (Maybe your dog is as tough as it thinks it is- chewing away at shark parts)
Impacts on sharks
Aside from declining shark populations, there are many other reasons that shark hunting is a problem. The stability of marine ecosystems is declining due to the fact that sharks are an apex predator. Foreign fishing vessels that will capture other marine organisms and possibly damage those populations as well are invading local, pristine waters. These fishing vessels that capture sharks only us 1% of the shark (the fin/ cartilage), while the rest of the shark is thrown away and unused. In fact, while finning, the shark is captured and kept aside the boat. The fisherman will then cut the fin off and the shark will sink to the bottom, unable to swim.
Many people understand that killer whales should not be help captive in locations such as SeaWorld, based on the size of the animal relative to the size of the tank. Although, there are many other health issues that arise due to keeping these amazingly beautiful and intricate creatures in bath-tub sized tanks. In this blog, I wanted to discuss two of those issues: collapsed dorsal fin, and tooth decay.
The risk of infections and bacterium in pool-sized tanks due to tooth decay is a high concern for killer whales in captivity as they bite down on steel gates separating the training pools from the performance pools (Jett & Ventre, 2011). I will explain the consequences of tooth fragments and the exposure of the pulp of the teeth. Because the space in amusement parks is not comparable to the size of the ocean, there are elevated risks of diseases (Jett & Ventre, 2011). I have provided background information on health factors, diseases, visible signs of distress, and specific cases on the reasons scientists and societies began to focus on the captivity of orcas. Female orcas have a mean life expectancy of 50.2 years and a maximum of 80-90 years; wild males have a mean life expectancy of 29.2 years, and a maximum of 50-60 years (Olesiuk et al, 1990). Most industry sources insist around 35 years as the maximum captive lifespan (Mooney, 1998). Of the 107 orcas in captivity that have died since 1961, average length of survival was under six years. The health affects presented to orcas in captivity are of concern to medical, veterinary, and orca researchers. The elevated opportunities for infectious agents cause many problems for orcas in close proximities (Jett & Ventre, 2011). Treatments of these illnesses are constantly evolving as veterinary staff is discovering new diseases.
The factors that play into the deaths of orcas in captivity at young ages include: collapsed dorsal fin syndrome, tooth decay, and brain damage, to name the most studied (Ridgway 1979). Collapsed dorsal fin syndrome is a major theme in health concerns for captive orcas because it is not seen in the wild. This is due to the lack of space and movement that orcas are able to carry out in the pools they are held in. Contrary to captivity, the lateral, torsional, and compressive forces generated by consistent moving in the ocean water sculpt vertical dorsal fins (Jett & Ventre, 2011). With the removal of these forces, and the constant surfacing of orcas in captivity, the connective tissue is impaired and results in a collapsed dorsal fin. This phenomenon is not seen in females due to the incomparable size of dorsal fins in females versus males. Male orcas acquire taller dorsal fins than females (Durdab et al, 2006). This also plays from the fact that orcas in captivity do not have to chase live fish due to a change in diet. Now, they eat dead, frozen fish, rather than having to strategize for their meals. This lack of movement causes fins to collapse, as well as provides less nutrition and other health affects.
Killer whales are some of the most aggressive animals on the planet. Ways that they display dominance in cases of captivity include biting down on the steel bars of the pools. This is known as a process called “jaw-popping,” and is used to show another orca that they are of lower hierarchal status than the one showing aggression (Graham & Dow, 1990). In addition to showing aggression, it is very common for orcas to experience boredom and social strife, which is shown by chewing on the steel gates that separate them from their training pools and entertainment pools (Jett & Ventre, 2011). Tooth fragments are commonly found on the bottom of their pools and can leave some of the pulp of the tooth exposed if not picked up. Improper care of teeth can lead to a number of diseases including: valvular heart disease, gingivitis, pneumonia, stroke, and heart attack (Jett & Ventre, 2011). Pathogens have a direct route to the blood stream through open bore holes due to teeth falling out. These can then be deposited into the tissue of various organs throughout the body, such as the heart or kidney. Some orcas have their teeth drilled and are treated with prophylactic antibiotics to control the risk of bacteria. It is known that long-term antibiotic use can lead to health effects aside from tooth decay, such as antibiotic-resistant bacteria, increased susceptibility to certain cancers, and disruption of intestinal flora leading to phytochemical malnourishment (Jett & Ventre 2008). There is also an increase in risk for skin cancer since various antibiotics can cause photosensitiation and phototoxicity to those exposed to UVR. With the constant exposure to the sun, due to minimal availability of shade in the orca pools, the risk of skin cancer is higher in captivity than in the wild.
It is a known fact around the world that sunscreen is used to protect your skin from harsh UV rays that can cause skin cancer. There is an immense variety of sunscreens that you can choose from varying on activity level, SPFs, etc. However, how many sunscreens are out there that are environmentally friendly? What researchers have found is that the chemicals in sunscreen are having a direct effect on the health of coral reefs through a process that happens when specific ingredients are released into the water. The two main components of sunscreen are zinc oxide and titanium dioxide, both of which never biodegrade. Mineral oil and petroleum, are also found in some sunscreen, which slowly dilutes into solutions. However, there are solutions to this. For example, a mineral-based sunscreen.
An inactivate virus living within the environment of corals and their symbiotic algae becomes activated in the presence of chemicals found in sunscreens. This virus causes a rather bad outcome, as do most viruses, resulting in either the release or the destruction of the algae living within the coral, therefore destroying the coral’s only source of nutrients and food.
Without the mutual symbiosis with the algae, the corals turn white, also known as coral bleaching, as a result of the nutrient-rich corals starving. Although, it isn’t the zinc oxide and titanium oxide that is causing this to happen, it is the chemicals added into a mixture that disrupt the corals. The ingredients that do cause this to happen include: oxynenzone, butylparaben, octinoxate, 4-methylbenzylidine camphor, and cinnamate. With that said, not only are the reefs themselves being effected, but so is the surrounding water with other ingredients that are being diluted into oceanic waters.
So how can we, as ocean loving and adventurous people be able to continue to explore the vast diversity of the ocean without simultaneously killing it off? Well, researchers have found the main ingredients in the most popular sunscreens that can activate this virus, and others have created sunscreens lacking these chemicals. Rather than absorbing the sun’s rays like chemical-based sunscreen does, a mineral-based sunscreen reflects the sun’s rays. Also, mineral sunscreen has been found to be better for those with sensitive skin, as it is less irritating. So, not only are you getting a sunscreen that is great for sensitive skin, it is just as protective as other sunscreen, and it serves as a relief to the beautiful corals and rainbow fish that you long to see.
Recently, there have been many companies that have started creating mineral-based sunscreen, and quite successfully too. A company called Beautycounter (which you can check out here), specializes in creating beauty products free of toxic substances. Their mission is to create products with safe components, due to the increase in health issues occurring from toxic chemicals put into everyday necessities. According to their research, the US has only banned 11 ingredients used in personal care products, while the European Union has banned over 1,300 ingredients. Beautycounter has successfully banned more than 1,500 ingredients, as stated on their “our mission” portion of their website, which you can view here. Their company has truly been an inspiration to our society today. With that said, they have created a sun-shying, coral reef-sighing sunscreen that lacks the unsafe ingredients that the most popular sunscreen brands use! AND they use a non-nano zinc oxide as the sun protector, which simply means a tiny version of zinc oxide that will not enter the bloodstream as a nano zinc oxide would. Every single ingredient, I mean every, is listed on their website when you select this sunscreen, as well as any of their other products. With constant and accurate testing, researchers for Beautycounter are able to determine which ingredients fit within their extremely strict guidelines and are allowed to be used in their products. Just looking at the ingredients list for the Protect All Over, I see that none of the coral damaging ingredients are listed, and are otherwise substituted by Citrus Limon Oil and Mimosa Tenuiflora Bark Extract- both of which sound much more natural to me.
Last week, an Inland Delegation of businesspeople, divers, one-time coastal residents and others who believe that every state is connected to the sea went to Washington, DC to attend aBlue Vision Summit and the largest ever ocean conservation lobby day. Along with fellow citizens from 23 other states 20 Coloradans met with our congressional delegation to oppose new off-shore oil surveys and drilling. A week later we’re seeing the beaches of Santa Barbara California fouled with spilled oil just as the Gulf of Mexico was 5 years ago by BP’s deadly Deepwater Horizon blowout.
The federal government is currently considering opening up the East Coast to new offshore drilling for the first time ever, as well as planning to authorize new drilling in the rough frontier waters of the U.S. Arctic Ocean.
The spill off the coast of Santa Barbara, with its images of dying oil covered sea birds reminds us of a much bigger spill that took place there in 1969 and that helped launch the modern environmental movement. Even though Colorado is a thousand miles from any coast, we have a vested interest in the health of our ocean that provides us with half the oxygen we breath, the weather and rain that feeds our crops and the occasional ocean escapes that can feed our soul. Coal and oil were important energy sources of past centuries. In the 21st century we ought to be able to generate clean energy without putting our coastlines, ocean, climate and economy at risk.
This past Sunday we celebrated World Water Day by taking action against #SilentOilSpills.
Call To Action
It’s perfect that this year’s theme is ‘Water and Sustainable Development‘. The theme is about howwater links to all sustainable development areas that we need to consider in order to create the future we want. For example, the Silent Oil Spills campaign is raising awareness about the impacts of petroleum motor oil, and how everyone can be part of the solution, from how they shop (choose recyclable and biodegradable motor oils) to how they drive (a properly maintained vehicle keeps oil off the roadways). Petroleum-based motor oils and industrial lubricants are contaminating our water supply and causing irreversible damage to our environment, and to us.
As our partners we are asking you to help spread our message and bring awareness to this issue. Below are a few things you can do!
“More than 40% of water pollution in the U.S. is from used motor oil. More used motor oil is illegally dumped every year than the oil lost in the BP Gulf Coast Spill. It’s time we do something about it.”
The greatest source of petroleum pollution in the ocean is transported there through rivers and streams, largely from the improper disposal of used motor oils down drains and from urban street runoff.
500 million gallons of used petroleum lubricating oil reaches the world’s oceans each year through routine ship maintenance and improper disposal of used oils.
The U.S. Coast Guard estimates that sewage treatment plants discharge twice as much oil into coastal waters as do tanker accidents.
A major threat to the ocean is burning fossil fuels that release carbon dioxide (CO2) – driving your car or truck is a key contributor. This CO2 is absorbed into the ocean causing acidification that changes water chemistry and life.
Reducing your carbon footprint can be as simple as using less plastic, or eating less meat and grains. Fortunately, bigger changes, such as switching to zero-carbon energy for your car and your home is now also easy to do. COCO supports you being the change #BeTheChange.
The resounding “Hurrah!” from our advisory board members after four hours of passionate brainstorming over the future of COCO confirmed our progress. COCO refined its vision and mission to help us more effectively protect our ocean at its source – a mile high:
Vision: To inspire an inland community to be stewards of our ocean.
Mission: Leading a community of individuals to understand our connection to the ocean, unite through shared conservation values, and advocate and celebrate actions that promote a healthy ocean.
In 2011, COCO came under the umbrella of The Ocean Foundation with a dream to create a new opportunity for people living inland to engage with ocean problems and solutions. After three years, the support shown to COCO indicated not only real interest, but also genuine need and commitment from our inland community to effect change.
Don’t worry you haven’t missed anything, the Colorado River is still a river. And while hearing the name Colorado Ocean Coalition for the first time might throw you for loop, the reality is an inland based ocean organization makes perfect sense.
Living along the coast isn’t a requirement for caring about our oceans. In fact, it doesn’t matter where you live; we are all impacting the health of our oceans. Thanks to modern technology and a global economy, a fish caught off the coast of South America can end up on a dinner plate in Colorado. But should you be eating that fish?
Well…that depends. Is the fishery sustainable? Did the fishing method destroy other ocean habitats? Does that fish contain a heavy dose of mercury? Aren’t these things you would like to know before digging in? And you certainly can’t ask a baked fish those questions.
The Colorado Ocean Coalition is filling an inland ocean void by raising awareness of ocean issues and getting more people to start asking questions. This is very exciting because the more people ask questions the more they begin to make conscious consumer choices and the more power we all have to affect change.
Now with an ocean coalition in place, Colorado and other inland states can work with coastal states to develop healthy ocean policies and legislation inland. Hawaii passed a statewide ban on plastic bags this summer that becomes effective July 1, 2015. Wouldn’t it be great if an inland state did the same?
The possibilities are endless and every move in the right direction helps our oceans. Executive Director Vicki Nichols Goldstein sums it up best with her favorite question, “Do you really need to see the ocean to save it?” Definitely not! So join the Colorado Ocean Coalition on their quest to save our oceans and check out their website to start learning more about hot ocean topics. Because whether you live a mile high or at sea level you can be part of the solution.
Colorado Ocean Coalition’s 2nd Annual Event, Making WAVES is coming up on October 20th and 21st! Held in Boulder, this multifaceted symposium and celebration highlights ocean issues, solutions and is a change making event for engagement and national action. Making Waves provides the general public access to and opportunities to interact with cutting edge researchers, well known speakers, award winning film makers and advocates creating an upwelling of supporters and inland ocean activists. Jean-Michel Cousteau, son of Jacques Cousteau, will be the keynote speaker for the weekend.