Friday, July 31, 2009

Day 39 - July 31

Life Guard Station 26, Ocean Park, Santa Monica, CA
trash collected for 20 min.
estimated pounds of trash collected today - 5.1
estimated pounds of trash collected to date - 223.2

Nets. Free floating nets are one major cause of death to marine wildlife. Animals get entangled in the net and are unable to escape. I found a piece today on the beach. I am also reminded of a fishing process that causes a lot of bycatch (a word used to describe animals that are caught along with the intended catch--turtles, rays, birds, dolphins). The process is called Long Line fishing. To read a concise explanation of bycatch and the fishing practices that catch the most, click here.
Trash items found on the beach today -
maxi pads - 2
clear bits of plastic
plastic spoon
straws, straws and more straws!
plastic water bottles
aluminum cans
flip flops
sand toys
fast food wrappers
tin foil
gum wrappers and packaging
bits of broken hard plastic
plastic bags and zip locks

We are approximately 94.5 million miles from the sun. F.Y.I.
"And I think to myself, what a wonderful world." - Louis Armstrong

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Day 38 - July 29

Life Guard Station 26, Ocean Park, Santa Monica CA
trash collected for 20 minutes
estimated pounds of trash collected today - 6 (filled two bags)
estimated pounds of trash collected to date - 218.1
It is all about the sand toys. I collect a few every time. Maybe I should start to save them and either donate them to Good Will, or hand them out at the beach to people who are already making castles. I have done that a few times, but after I've passed them on I wonder if their new owner will keep them out of the water. There is no way to monitor or control that. I have to focus on what I can do. Which is, picking up trash, a bag at a time, and setting a time limit so I have a reasonable goal. Otherwise, I might not go out there at all. Like I have mentioned in my last few entries, there is just too much trash on the beach in the summer and it is hard to look at.
A little green man, this reminded me of a t.v. show on Santa Monica Bay that I caught the tail end of. There were people on this show I can't remember the name of, that claimed there were aliens living in the bay under the water in their space ship. Every once in awhile, they would emerge from the depths to fly around. What they did when they flew around was not mentioned. Anyway, I thought this was a funny thought and decided to pass it on. Here is a website that claims to have put a list of over 50 UFO sightings that have taken place off of the coast of Southern California. Click here to read more.
The daily water bottle collection keeps expanding.
Have you aver noticed Sea Gulls legs and feet? They have a wide variety of colors. The shades range from pastel pinks, to greens, and blues. I have grown fond of observing the color variations in their legs. I enjoy it when Sea Gulls join me on my walk. They see me with a bag, and assume I may have food for them. I end up with 3 -4 followers on a given day. This gives me many opportunities to observe these birds that beach goers take for granted, or as a nuisance because they steal food from your blanket. I would like to put in a plug to appreciate them, they are beautiful birds, and in my opinion, especially their legs.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Day 37 - July 21

Life Guard Station 26, Ocean Park, Santa Monica CA
trash collected for 20 minutes
estimated pounds collected today - 7.1
estimated pounds collected to date - 212.1
After 13 minutes I collected this much trash. Summertime is tough to be out here because of the increase of trash to collect. I can feel overwhelmed by seeing it all. 
People smoke for many reasons. Being an ex-smoker myself, I feel like I may have an insight or two on this. I liked to smoke a cigarette to take a moment and relax. I often felt like this was the only time I took deep breaths during my day. This may sound like a strange motivation to non-smokers, but smokers will understand. A cigarette was a way to relax, a reward. 

I became dependent on smoking for many other factors as well, but one was really to have a break. The beach offers this to people. I see many, many people enjoying the sun, sand, and waves. This is a positive dependence that could be also thought of as a gift you get from the beach. You relax, take a deep breath for the first time in days, all of this is a reward for carrying out the beach chair, applying sunscreen and getting sand in your hair. I wonder if people thought more about the benefits they receive from a day at the beach, would they leave their trash behind so often? Would they want to fight to preserve the beauty of this place for people to come and experience the same benefits that they have experienced themselves? And if so, how do you convince them? I think about questions like these all the time. Especially when I am out there picking up trash.
The daily water bottle collection.
There was an incredible court ruling this week in San Diego. The city wanted to scare away a group of Harbor Seals that had made a new home at a beach called Children's Pool in La Jolla. At the last minute the courts decided to leave them in peace and not spend 688,000$ to blast their barking dog recordings. People are strange, we are not the only animals that like the beach, and most of us don't call it home like these Harbor Seals and seagulls. For the full story, click here
This is my first week back to collecting and posting in awhile. I discovered an interdependence that I knew I had, but hadn't felt the full implications of. My husband Garen was away for two weeks. I was home in our life with our injured dog, and a scrapped up elbow as the result of falling off of a horse. I was also getting ready for a wedding back east for my cousin, and a family visit that would go along with that. All in all, I really found that I felt miserable without his love, sanity and support. I had a difficult time doing more than the task at hand. I missed this project, and it feels good to get back to it. I found out that much like the beach, I feel relaxed and rejuvenated from our relationship. Another dependence that I plan on taking care of for years to come. 

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Day 36 - July 12

Life Guard Station 26, Ocean Park, Santa Monica CA
trash collected for 20 min.
estimated pounds of trash collected today - 3
estimated pounds of trash collected to date - 205
One great thing about summer is taking advantage of being outside longer because there is more daylight to enjoy. This picture was taken at 7:00 p.m..
One unfortunate by-product of summer, this beach is filthy because of the increased numbers of visitors enjoying being outside.
After 8 and 1/2 minutes of collecting I took this picture to show you that I had nearly filled the bag. When I stopped after 20 minutes, I had filled two bags. 
I really like this picture. I can see the effect the beach has on people. They enjoy it, they roll around in the sand, stand amazed up to their ankles as they watch the incoming wave, touch the water, and in some small, but profound way find a chance to connect with themselves again.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Day 35 - July 9

Life Guard Station 26, Ocean Park, Santa Monica CA
trash collected for 20 min.
estimated pounds of trash collected today - 4.4
estimated pounds of trash collected to date - 202
The second picture of poo on my site. It is even high-lighted by the sun, and rests picturesquely on the wooden boardwalk amongst grains of sand. I love my dog and cat. We are thinking about adopting another dog. One thing that I do when I take Kona, (our dog), out for a walk is bring disposable poop bags to clean up after him when he goes to the bathroom. Why do dog owners go thru this trouble? For one thing, a sidewalk, or park lawn littered with dog s*&%t is gross, and unsightly. But did you know that dog and cat waste carry harmful bacteria and parasites that when left on the ground, can wash into drinking water, streams, lakes, and oceans? It is true, dog waste in not just a nuisance to step in, but could get you sick. This specimen was found on the boardwalk half way out to Life Guard Stand 26 on Ocean Park Beach. The dog and his owner were found at the end enjoying the sunset. I've forgotten, or run out of bags too on a walk. I'm not a saintly dog owner, but I am glad that today, I had one. Please click here to read in more detail an article sponsored by the University of Maine on pet waste and water contamination.
One of my least favorite things to see when I am out collecting trash on the beach is a seagull eating a piece of plastic. I often witness this, like I did today, only 10 - 50 feet away. My two options go thru my head when I see this. One, if I run toward the bird, it might drop the plastic bottle top so that I can pick it up, or two, I'll scare it away. Then it may consume the trash somewhere out of my sight where I am unable to stop it. Recently I watched a bird eat a cigarette lighter in front of me. There is a picture that comes to mind when I see this happen. It is of a decaying bird that died because it ingested too much plastic. I found this picture in my book on the Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument in Hawaii. I've been searching the web to link the picture here. I haven't located it yet, but it is a striking image that sticks with you. Sometimes, as harsh as it, an image like that can be a powerful learning tool. I think about that image every time I see a seagull eat plastic on the beach. 
The plastic water bottle of the day. 
The beach was really dirty today. I found it depressing. Summer is here and people are enjoying the beaches, but the trash collection has gone up with the temperature. This project is harder to do than I thought it would be. Emotionally, I find it difficult to collect trash for 20 min. and not get to half of what I see on the ground between two Life Guard Stands. 

I like this picture though. The woman standing at the top of the ramp is a life guard, a person who has dedicated part of her life to saving people. I watched three of them the other day, go in after swimmers that were out too far. I'm always impressed by their skill. Thank you to all of them who take on this dangerous job. People care at many different levels. I need to remember that.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Day 34 - July 6

Life Guard Station 26 - Ocean Park, Santa Monica CA
trash collected for 20 minutes
estimated pounds of trash collected today - 4.2
estimated pounds of trash collected to date - 197.6
A Thomas the Train Band-aid. Let's pass right over how gross it is to find used band-aids on the beach, even ones with cute trains, and move on to a children's book that comes to mind. "All the Way to the Ocean" by the Save our Seas Foundation. It is printed with Soy Ink, and on recycled paper from the Living Tree Paper Company. On the last page of the book it lists the natural resources saved by printing with these two techniques. 
They also have a site just for kids. Save Our Seas For Kids. I read this book to some of my ceramics classes that I teach over the summer at the Armory Center for the Arts in Pasadena CA. This book kicks off a project that gets kids to think about how they can use their creativity as an artist to help a cause they believe in. Clearly, the book I choose to read them illustrates mine. Artists transcend language, and often grab people's attention in an immediate and emotional way. You save what you love, and art can show you the love the artist has for its subject to you. Hopefully that feeling is contagious. 
Cigarettes Kill Fish According to a New Study 
"In fact, researchers would like to have the butts classified as hazardous waste."
The Blue Ocean Institute has a list of "What you can do" that included two things that caught my attention. (The Blue Ocean Institute is listed as a link on my blog.)
1. Read the labels on your pet's food.  Avoid buying pet food that contains fish meal.  According to a recent article in the New York Times, by Paul Greenberg, the pet food industry uses about 10 percent of the global supply of forage fish. The removal of wild forage fish threatens to starve whales, seals, and other predators.  Sardines, anchovies, mackerel and other pelagic forage fish should be used to feed humans.  Adding to the problem, fish meal is also fed to farm animals, the swine industry consumes 24 percent of fish meal and oil, and the poultry industry takes as much as 22 percent.  Therefore, even if you avoid pet foods that list fish meal as an ingredient, Fluffy may be indirectly enjoying a seafood meal. As Greenberg concludes, we need to insist that land-based animals stick to eating land-grown food.  To read the article, click here.  

2. This one seems so obvious, but is stated beautifully. Go on, try it!
Experience it.  This is the best way to gain the inspiration that will ultimately fuel your actions to help protect the oceans. Go on, slip into that watery realm—grab a mask and just float for awhile. Or, if swimming isn't your thing, take a boat ride on a small boat—the kind that when a wave comes you'll feel some spray. Or walk along the seashore, collect some shells, skip some rocks, watch the moon pull the tide.  We also recommend renting or buying the BBC's Blue Planet—an incredible look beneath the waves in those places most of us will never quite get to.  You can also check out Blue Ocean's photo gallery to see some spectacular images of this watery realm.  Get to know this largest living space on the planet. It is a world of inspiration, vitality, mystery, remarkable beauty, and untold promise.  Learn what is there and let yourself be inspired.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Day 33 - July 3

Leo Carrillo State Beach, Malibu CA
trash collected by 2 people for 20 minutes
estimated trash collected today - 1.2
estimated trash collected to date - 193.4
Here is the trash collected by both of us out on this beach. Leo Carrillo is 30 min. or more north of Santa Monica Bay. I see a huge difference, don't you? Two days before we filled 5 or more bags in 20 min.. Today, just this. It was refreshing. I thought to collect here while we were on the beach for the day to see the difference, if any, of being farther from the city of Santa Monica. There is a big difference. 
The Water Bottle of the Day - even here, there are some to find. I am interested to see that this water bottle company supports an environmental non-profit. The American Forests.
It looks like a great program with a friendly interactive website. They have a carbon calculator so that you can see what your Carbon Foot Print is. 
I like this photograph. The bottom line of the can matches up with the horizon line of the water. But I would like to continue my train of thought from above. I think that corporations whose products contribute to marine debris should sponsor ocean conservation groups as well. Like the Long Beach Aquarium. It is an amazing place that we went to this week. There is a website to visit associated with them.
They are promoting Shark Conservation. Since 1975 and the release of Jaws, the public's attitude to sharks has taken a steep decline. This hasn't helped the cause to protect these amazing animals that keep the marine ecosystem in balance. They have been here for millions of years, but their numbers are dropping fast.
Why should you care about sharks you may ask? Maybe the only time you think about them is when you are in the water like the people above? I get it. So let me explain. 
"The Importance of Sharks in Maintaining Healthy Marine Ecosystems
Sharks have been swimming in the ocean for 400 million years, that's 100 million years before the dinosaurs appeared on land. They inhabit the oceans from its deep seas to its coastal wetlands and coral reefs. Sharks play a truly vital role in the maintaining the health if marine ecosystems, but today many species of sharks that are at the top of the food web, are in danger of extinction. While many people fear sharks, a greater fear should be the consequences of the loss of sharks will do to an already stressed ocean." The Long Beach Aquarium Brochure. 
If you want to feed sharks and rays, lorikeets and sea lions, and much more, please make a visit, and consider becoming a member, thanks. 

Day 32 - July 1

Life Guard Station 26, Ocean Park, Santa Monica CA
trash collected for 20 min. by two people
estimated trash collected today - 9.8
estimated trash collected to date - 191.2
Water Bottle of the Day - I think that will be an official title given to the photograph I plan on including in every entry of at least one of the water bottles I find. I find more than one every time. 
"One person's waste could be another persons treasure." - The Plastiki Website
David de Rothschild and the Plastiki Expedition are leaving this summer on a boat made of mostly plastic-one-time-use water bottles to explore the huge trash gyre that is in the middle of the Pacific. I've mentioned this before, but if you want to check out their website, it promises to be in 3D very soon!
The remnants of a child's pizza party. Estimated feet to next trash can - 40  
We collected the highest weight of trash today since I started. This includes the handful of times Garen has come out to help me. He had to stop collecting early because he ran out of plastic bags to fill and he physically could not hold any more. I stock at least 5 - 6 bags for collection in my kit that I carry out to the beach. We went through all of my reserves. I think this may be a sign of summer. I want to go to the beach on the 5th to see what I find. I think it may be a tough visit. 
Garen and I have been on vacation this week so I haven't collected as much as I normally do. I got discouraged today as we did some number crunching and I realized that this project will most likely take the next 2 - 3 years. I swear I hadn't considered that when I started. I will finish. I must, I couldn't forgive myself if I stopped. But damn, that is going to be a lot of plastic bottle and sunset photographs. What am I going to write? Instead of fear, I'll look at this as an adventure. Who knows what the next few years hold for any of us. And if I'm right, I predict I will have picked up approximately a ton of trash by the time it is over. That's a cool thought. Although, it would be better if there wasn't a ton of trash to pick up in the first place.