Mr. Trash Wheel removes trash from Baltimore Harbor

While it may seem that not much action is being taken to solve the garbage problem on the planet, there has been movement. Perhaps it’s not at the level we really need but action is being taken. I believe in years to come, even more technologies will be developed for cleanup, as well as, more strict laws put in place in regards to corporate responsibility for packaging, dumping and littering. We have no choice. Anyway, according to EcoWatch, this was one of their most popular articles during the last month of 2015 – great to see!

“They say you can’t reinvent the wheel, but in May 2014, the Waterfront Partnership did just that. The Baltimore nonprofit installed “the world’s first permanent water wheel trash interceptor” to clean up the city’s polluted Inner Harbor.

The wheel, which is powered by solar panels and water currents, has pulled a whole lot of trash from the harbor in less than two years. As recently reported by Waste Dive, the $750,000 floating trash guzzler has removed more than 350 tons of litter from Baltimore’s landmark and tourist attraction to date.

This includes 80,000 plastic bottles, more than 90,000 foam containers, 36,000 plastic shopping bags, 66,000 snack bags and 4 million cigarette butts.

Affectionately known as Mr. Trash Wheel, the floating contraption has the capability to collect 50,000 pounds of trash per day.”

Click here to read entire article.


Manufacturing of Microbeads ending summer of 2017 in U.S.

Such great news that happened yesterday for our oceans and waterways – the banning of microbead production by summer of 2017  in the U.S.! But what I’m curious about is who was the dorkus who thought this would be a great idea to produce in the first place?! It seems that common sense slips the minds of many. I think I ended up with a tube of travel toothpaste once with microbeads and I thought to myself I best be careful to clean out my mouth well, otherwise I’m eating plastic! Strange world we have become, but at least we are making some traction in government to help protect the environment.

“President Obama signed a bill on Monday that will phase out the manufacturing of face wash, toothpaste and shampoo containing plastic microbeads by July 1, 2017, and the sale of such beauty products by July 1, 2018.

Following the footsteps of California’s historic microbead ban, the Microbead-Free Waters Act (H.R. 1321) bans all plastic microbeads from beauty products, including those made from so-called “biodegradable plastics,” most of which do not biodegrade in marine environments.”


Photo credit: 5 Gyres – Follow 5 Gyres on Twitter

15 Huge Ocean Conservation Victories of 2015

Finding the good… it is so easy to feel that humanity is making no traction in protecting the environment – the ocean but according to EcoWatch, there has been great movement this past year. Much gratitude for the thousands who have devoted their time in doing so!

“Overfishing, climate change, habitat destruction and pollution remain major threats to the world’s ocean. But amidst all that there is some seriously good ocean conservation news worth celebrating.

1. More than 2 million square kilometers of ocean was protected in big new marine reserves.
2. New technology is being developed to combat illegal fishing.
3. Illegal fishing boats are being chased down and caught!
4. Ocean conservation is one of the UN’s new sustainable development goals.
5. The Port State Measures Agreement is close to being ratified.
6. The ocean is getting some good ink and screen time.
7. Sustainable fishing became understood as a human rights issue.
8. Small island states are leading the way and getting support on ocean management.
9. A nonpartisan coalition is bringing ocean issues into the 2016 U.S. elections.
10. Anonymous is hacking for ocean conservation.
11. Oil companies may be giving up on drilling in the Arctic.
12. Ocean zoning continues to gain traction as a key policy approach.
13. Plastic microbeads are getting banned.
14. An end to subsidies for unsustainable fishing is gaining steam.
15. The COP 21 climate agreement mentioned the ocean.”

Full article here

Plastic spoon in sea turtle’s nose

Please stop using single-use plastics. This is not the first time plastics end up in sea turtles’ nostrils.

“A new video shows researchers in Costa Rica removing the plastic utensil from a wild sea turtle’s nostril, offering a vivid reminder why recycling can be a matter of life and death.

Somewhere in the world, someone threw away a plastic fork instead of recycling it. That’s not unusual, and the person probably didn’t give it much thought. But while the fork may have been forgotten, its journey was far from finished.

The fork eventually ended up in the ocean, as does about 8 million metric tons of plastic every year — including trash discarded on land as well as at sea. And then, in another sadly common occurrence, this utensil ended up torturing a sea turtle.” Complete article published 12/18/15.

Jellyfish Die-off San Francisco Bay Area Beach

Date: Monday, November 30, 2015
Beach: Gray Whale Cove State Beach just south of Pacifica
Amount: Approximately 60 – 41 photo-documented below.
Description: clear jelly body and reddish-orange tentacles, with sizes ranging from tennis ball – to frisbee-size. There may be multiple species.
Possible Cause: El Niño warming waters. Please comment below if you have learned any other possible causes or have confirmed that it is in fact, El Niño.



Bay Area wetlands being restored

Really happy to see this news today and just need to share!

Levee breach transforms Sears Point farmland back into wetlands

“Cooled by a stiff breeze off San Pablo Bay, about 300 supporters and partners of the Sonoma Land Trust cheered on Sunday as an excavator’s crane broke through a 140-year-old Sears Point levee, allowing saltwater to flood back over 1,000 acres of reclaimed oat hay fields at the southern tip of Sonoma County.

As the water rushed in, the crowd of government officials and others involved in the decade-old Sears Point Restoration Project threw balls of pickleweed seeds into the mud to aid the wetland’s rebirth.

It is expected to take another 25 to 30 years before the marshland’s vegetation and wildlife comes back completely, but a flock of sandpipers swept in Sunday to investigate the small levee breach, which will be widened to 285 feet.”

~The Press Democrat

“A key moment in an effort to restore nearly 1,000 acres south of Sonoma into a tidal marsh happened Sunday, Oct. 25, when a levee near Sears Point was breached, letting water flow in from San Pablo Bay for the first time in more than a century. Video by Diane Peterson / The Press Democrat.”

Dead Birds on Montara State Beach – El Niño?


Montara State Beach is approximately 16 miles south of San Francisco on HWY 1.

Went on my beach cleanup excursion to Montara State Beach, just south of Pacifica, during high tide this afternoon. If you want to be completely mesmerized by waves crashing down… this is the beach! There is a very steep decline in some areas where the waves meet the shore, creating dramatic wave curls and subsequent crashes. The undertow has got to be really dangerous at this location. I have been to this (almost) mile-long beach three times during weekday afternoons and every time I visited, I have been awe-struck by the waves, there hasn’t been that many people and it is relatively litter-free! However, there are quite a few deceased seabirds.


Folks heed the sign and keep this beach clean.

There must be a team of volunteers that keep up with this beach or people do a good job of picking up after themselves. I hiked most of the beach and only came away with a three-quarters full paper bag. Most of the litter that I found were the typical plastics such as packaging, bottle caps, straws, plastic utensils and of course, cigarette butts. And luckily no garbage made my Jerk Awards, but there was two piles of dog poop. Hello, dog owners.


Evidently, El Niño is making its presence known – we just haven’t been visited by the storms yet.

After spotting numerous deceased Common Murres (seabirds) at Ocean Beach in San Francisco during September, I had documented it here. That page has received a lot of traffic, so evidently, I am not the only one curious about the die-off. I had made an inquiry into Farallones Marine Sanctuary and the representative said that it’s related to the El Niño weather cycle and lack of food for the young Murres, but this year the rate of die-off is four times greater than usual. During an El Niño, there is a decrease in nutrients in the coastal ocean for the entire marine ecosystem to thrive on due to warming waters – thus, causing a die-off. Farallones Beach Watch states:

“Annually we expect to see a small ‘post breeding’ increase in dead Murres in September and October. However starting in August of this year, Beach Watch surveyors found much higher than normal numbers of stranding and dead Common Murre chicks. Historically in warm water El Niño years we do see higher numbers of dead Murres than other years. This year is no exception; our surveys documented more than 4 times the long term average number of dead birds in August. This event has caught the attention of the community at large.”

Today, I photo-documented 19 Common Murres (below), and then my cell lost its charge. I spotted 12 more after that. There was a part of the beach I didn’t visit, so I would say there’s approximately 40 dead Murres at Montara State Beach. I wonder what other factors could be causing the increase in die-off.

El Niño: it is a good reminder that absolutely everything cycles. And, California should be getting some water to relieve some of the drought stress soon.

Before the weather sneaks up, get out to this beach and do not let the amount of deceased sea birds scare you away – there is plenty of beautiful clean sand and space at Montara State Beach. In the meantime, what are your thoughts on the increased die-off… what other factors do you think are causing it? Or on a lighter note, anyone else awe-struck by the waves at this particular beach?

Happier Montara Photos to “Clear the Palette”

Our beaches are under siege – take action by signing petitions

Passing on the important message from Surfrider!

“Sometimes it’s hard to see, but our beaches are under siege. Consider:

  • Plastics comprise up to 90% of floating marine debris and it’s the most common type of marine litter worldwide.
  • On US coastlines, there were over 20,120 beach closings and advisories issued in one year alone! Most beach closings are issued because water monitoring detected bacteria from human and animal waste.
  • Armoring – the placement of structures like seawalls to prevent coastal erosion – is killing our sandy beaches. With 45% of Southern California’s, 43% of New Jersey’s and 30% of Puget Sound’s beaches being armored, building sandcastles could soon be a thing of the past.
  • Beach access is supposed to be a universal right. So why is 69% of Connecticut’s, 75% of Massachusetts’ and 94%(!) of Maine’s shoreline privately owned and closed to you and me?

But you can make a difference for your oceans, waves and beaches. You can be their voice.

All it takes is one simple action- your signature on any one of our petitions and letters to lawmakers will allow your voice to be heard about improving water quality, preserving our coastlines, ensuring you can access your beach and protecting our coastlines for all to enjoy.

Thank you for taking action,
The Surfrider Foundation”