Thursday, October 23, 2014

"Keep the Sea Free of Debris" Art Contest

2nd Grade Winner from 2014

We all know that trash on our beaches and in the ocean is U-G-L-Y!!! It is also not healthy for seabirds, seals, fish, whales and all of the beautiful creatures that live in the sea.

If you are in grade Kindergarten through 8th grade in any U.S. state or territory, you can enter an art contest sponsored by NOAA.

Your art must be about marine debris.  

What is marine debris?

It's all that trash that you and I make everyday.  It is the trash that get's away from us and winds up in creeks, rivers, lakes, and the ocean.

Ask your teacher or parent about how you can enter this contest. Click this link "Keep the Sea Free of Debris" for more information about this contest. 

The last day to submit entries is November 17, 2014.

All students in grades Kindergarten through 8th grade from all U.S. states and territories–recognized public, private, and home schools are eligible to participate. Schools, including home schools, must be in compliance with federal and state civil rights and nondiscrimination statutes. Students must work individually.

For a complete list of contest rules, download the 2015 Marine Debris Art Contest Flyer, located under the "Resources" box.

Criteria for Art & Description
Each entry must be composed of a piece of artwork and a description (on entry form). All must meet the requirements below. Students are highly encouraged to check out the rest of the NOAA Marine Debris Program's website for information about marine debris.

Entries (entry form and artwork) should be mailed to:

Marine Debris Art Contest
ATTN: Asma Mahdi
NOAA Marine Debris Program
1305 East-West Highway Rm #10203
SSMC4, 10th Floor
Silver Spring, MD 20910

All entries must be postmarked by Monday, November 17th. Please note that entries will not be returned.

If you have any questions, please contact Asma Mahdi at (301) 713-4248 Ext. 235 or

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Celebrate Cephalopods!!!

 "Rebecca Kibler/Marine Photobank."
While giant pods of sperm whales in California made the headlines, Neptune 911 loves that we are smack in the middle of Cephalopod Awareness Days!

So let's wave our tentacles in the air and celebrate the amazing cephalopod.  WHOA!  That's a big word!

Try saying it really fast eight times (like the eight arms of an octopus)--or ten times like the ten arms of a squid.

Members of the "Cephalopod Club" include octopus, squid and cuttlefish.  If they had a bone in their back, they could not have joined this very special boneless-club.

These creatures of the deep sea are fascinating. Here are some facts from Cephalopods ofthe World, a free UN FAO illustrated fact sheet on nearly every living cephalopod.

  • Cephalopods are represented in the fossil record dating back 500 million years.
  • There are about 800 species of living cephalopods known to science, with many more as yet to be discovered.
  • Since ancient times, cephalopods have been a recurring motif in myth, arts and literature and they remain a subject of popular culture today.
  • Cephalopod are an important fishery with catches steadily increasing over the last 30 years, from about 1 million metric tonnes in 1970 to more than 3 million tonnes in 2001.
  • There are no species of cephalopod currently listed on the UN endangered species. However, this is more a testament to how little we know about these animals than a true indication of their conservation needs.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Rare and Huge Pod of Sperm Whales in California Waters

Mother and baby sperm whaleCC BY-SA 2.0
So you board a Southern California whale watching boat thinking that a few humpback whales will give you a show.  That's expected.  But suddenly the boat's captain excitedly announces over the boat's loudspeaker, "Folks we have something I have never seen before in these waters!  We are approaching a giant pod of 60-100 sperm whales." 

That happened yesterday.  Wish I was there.

Sperm whales are the largest tooth whale.  

From National Geographic:

Sperm whales were mainstays of whaling's 18th and 19th century heyday. A mythical albino sperm whale was immortalized in Herman Melville's Moby Dick, though Ahab's nemesis was apparently based on a real animal whalers called Mocha Dick. The animals were targeted for oil and ambergris, a substance that forms around squid beaks in a whale's stomach. Ambergris was (and remains) a very valuable substance once used in perfumes.

Videos from October 6, 2014