Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Ocean Awareness Contest for Young Artists

We invite middle and high school students from around the world in the 2016 Ocean Awareness Student Contest! The theme is Making Meaning out of Ocean Pollution, and it challenges you to research, explore, interpret, and say something meaningful about the connections between human activities and the health of our oceans.

This year, we challenge you to focus on ONE type of ocean pollution and “make meaning” of it through art, poetry, prose, or film. We would encourage you to connect it with your own life, your own local community, or something else that is personally meaningful to you, but what’s most important is to pick a topic that inspires and motivates you.

This is an interdisciplinary contest that weaves together ocean awareness, creativity, and advocacy. Advocacy means taking a stand for something you believe in. It requires problem-solving skills, assertiveness, and most of all, knowing when to call the world to action.

While learning from science, history, and personal experience will inform your entry, there is no “right” way to do meaningful advocacy. Use your creativity to make art, poetry, prose, or films that inspire and empower a new generation of ocean stewardship!

For details visit:  http://www.fromthebowseat.org/contest-2016.php

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

The Marine Debris Monster. Scary Stuff!

As you’re trick-or-treating this Halloween, watch out for scares... Goblins! Monsters! Debris! BOO! (Drawing by Teeger B., Grade 8, California, art contest winner featured in the 2013 Marine Debris Calendar)

Here are the top 10 kinds of trash picked up after Halloween--and since the ocean is downhill from everything, imagine how much of this trash winds up in the sea--feeding that Marine Debris Monster. Ooooooooooooooooo, that's scary stuff.

Friday, October 9, 2015

A Dragon Story With A Sea-ful Twist

 The Dragon Dreamer is a young adult science fiction adventure with dragons and a detailed undersea world that has inspired kids to learn more about the sea, says author, J.S. Burke who worked as a marine biologist for the Florida Department of Natural Resources Bureau of Marine Research.

Ms. Burke, who specialized in science research papers, admits that not everyone will read a science research paper, especially younger readers. So, she wrote The Dragon Dreamer as a young adult (ages 9 and up) science fiction adventure with a young dragon named Arak, and a detailed undersea world to help young people learn more about the sea.

Arak is a misfit dragon who gets lost in mind-trance, so he's called "Dreamer" and ridiculed.  

Determined to prove himself he leaves on a dangerous quest, is caught in a fierce sea-storm, and crashes. Badly wounded, he faces death. A fearless, undersea shape-shifter named Scree heals him, and an unexpected friendship begins.

Other science books for youngsters by Jenny S. Burke include, Crystal Colors, Fantasy Snowflake Activities, Crystal Geometry and Crystal Clouds.  To learn more about these books, visit http://www.jennysburke.com

The Dragon Dreamer can be found at:
Amazon US: bit.ly/TheDragonDreamer 
Amazon UK 

Monday, September 14, 2015

"Plastic, Ahoy!" -- The Science of Plastic Waste for Kids

If you draw a line on a flat map of the planet, you will cross about 165 major rivers. Each one of those rivers will end in one of 5 oceans:  the Atlantic, Pacific, Indian, Arctic and Antarctic Oceans. 

When we accidentally lose a plastic bottle filled with juice, soda, tea or water, and it winds up in a river, guess where it ends up?

  1. A parking lot?
  2. A neighbor’s front yard?
  3. The ocean where that river ends?

It could end up on any of the above three locations. But if that bottle isn’t picked up and properly put away—like in a recycling bin—eventually it could end up in one of the 5 oceans.

Children’s book author, Patricia Newman, wrote about students learning the science of plastics and the ocean. Her award-winning book, “Plastic, Ahoy!  —  Investigating the Great Pacific Garbage Patch” is a real-life science book about what happens when our plastic trash ends up in the 

And there is so much plastic in the ocean now that scientists worry. They worry if plastic has become part of the food tiny fish eat. Then they worry if the bigger fish that eat those tiny fish filled with plastic, become filled with plastic too.  The next worry is, what about the fish we eat? Are they filled with plastic?  

We also know that dolphins, sea turtles, whales, seals, and sea birds become trapped in plastic waste and that they often mistake plastic waste for food. Plastic isn't food. It's poison when eaten.

How can you help?  This Saturday, September 19, 2015, kids and grown-ups from around the world will help keep plastics out of our oceans.  It is International Coastal Cleanup Day.

In 2014, 560,000 volunteers in 91 countries picked up more than 16 million pounds of trash.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Talkin' Trash

What is marine debris?  It's trash that winds up in the ocean.  You can make a difference and help prevent trash from landing in the ocean.  
Watch for a special post from children's book author, Patricia Newman
Meanwhile, learn how 
you can help from this video.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Be a Plover Lover

Who doesn't love a walk along the beach?  Discovery is everywhere.  

There are shells.


Birds of all sorts.

 And sometimes a surprise, like a rare snowy plover!

Snowy plovers are tiny shore birds that are threatened species. That means, they are not doing very well and could become extinct. 

They make their nests on the beach.  And that's the snowy plover's challenge.  The nests are hard to see by us because they are tucked into dried kelp, driftwood and rocks. But coyotes, raccoons, owls and falcons can find them and dine on the eggs or the even the baby chicks.

Because their nests are camouflaged, you and I are a big danger to snowy plovers too.  And while our dogs love to run on the beach with us, they can accidentally destroy a snowy plover nest. 

Kites also scare snowy plovers.  They might mistake a kite in the air as a predator bird hunting for a fresh supper.

We can help the snowy plover by staying far away from areas where they nest during March and September.  Watch for signs and ropes on the beach. And remember Share the Beach and become a Plover Lover!

---all photos by C. Coimbra

Monday, August 3, 2015

10 Amazing Facts About Lion's Mane Jellyfish

We have a special guest today!

This guest post is by Cherilyn Jose, a SCUBA diver, photographer, writer and blogger.  Her blog, "Ocean of Hope: Marine Animals Voice Their Wishes" is often written from an animal's point-of-view.  Check it out here Ocean of Hope: Marine Animals Voice Their Wishes and follow her on twitter @protectoceans

Note: Since Jellyfish aren’t really fish, I will now refer to them as Jellies instead

Lion's Mane Jelly. C. Coimbra photo

  1. The Lion’s Mane Jelly is the largest Jelly in the ocean.  Its bell can reach up to 8 feet in diameter, and its tentacles up to 120 feet long (that’s longer than a blue whale!).
  2. The Lion’s Mane Jelly lives in the North Atlantic, North Pacific, and Arctic Oceans.
  3. The Lion’s Mane Jelly is bioluminescent (glows in the dark!).
  4. Like all jellies, the Lion’s Mane Jelly has no brain, blood, or nervous system.
  5. Like all jellies, the Lion’s Mane Jelly is 95% water.
  6. There are 200 species of True Jellies.
  7. All Jellies are radially symmetrical.
  8. Jellies have no eyes, but rather eye spots that detect light and dark.
  9. Lion’s Mane Jellies have nematocysts in their tentacles that they use to sting their prey. Nematocysts are barbs (sharp points) filled with venom.
  10. A Jelly can sting you even if washed up on the beach so be careful!  Jelly stings on humans can be treated with vinegar to lessen the pain.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Students Take a Vacation Saving Coral

A coral nursery.  Coral Restoration Foundation photo
Coral is a beautiful plant in the ocean.  

NO! Wait! That's wrong. It's not a beautiful plant! It's a beautiful animal!

Coral is also one of the most endangered animals on the planet.  

Coral lives in reefs in tropical and subtropical waters. Many of those reefs are in trouble from pollution, warming waters from climate change, a higher rate of acid changing ocean waters, and from over fishing.  

Ocean researchers have learned that coral can be saved. A group of kids far from the coral reefs in Florida, spent part of their summer vacation to help save a coral reef along the Florida Keys.

Twenty boys and girls from land-locked Colorado, from ages 12 to 16, traveled to Florida to learn more about the Coral Restoration Foundation.

Students learned how to dive and "plant" coral pieces in a coral nursery.

The students told reporter, Don Rhodes, for Key Info Net, that the experience "opened a whole new world for me,"  "..it broadened my view of the world and gave us a bonding experience with the other kids.” Others were thrilled seeing sting rays and turtles in their natural home.

You can learn more about coral reefs at EcoKids.

Friday, June 12, 2015

3 Easy Ways To Keep the Beach Healthy

Who can't wait to hit the beach this summer? There are sand castles to build. Surf to slide and ride. Picnics. Volleyball. 

We love the beach!  Now let's show our love with these three easy ways to keep it healthy this summer.

  1. Beach toys:  Be sure every single plastic toy comes back home with you. The ocean doesn't need one more piece of plastic in it. Did you know that some stores sell recycled plastic beach toys? One company even makes "plastic" beach toys that biodegrade.
  2. Food wrappers:  Yikes! Plastic bags so easily slip away and into the ocean. Boo! Try using wax paper or pack your lunch in take-home containers instead.  
  3. Juice and drink containers:  Did you know that those tiny little plastic lids from a bottle of juice, water, and tea are one of the biggest ocean polluters? Did you know that many seabirds have mistaken those containers for food? That's not a good thing. Be sure to properly dispose of those tiny lids. The ocean and its creatures will thank you. Also be sure to recycle those plastic bottles.  

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Rare Sighting! Twin Gray Whales

On Monday, June 1, while on a gray whale watch in California, viewers saw a rare sight, a mother gray whale with two calves at her side.

Either the mother gave a very rare birth to twins or one of the calves lost its mother and was adopted by this mother. 

They were swimming north to return to their feeding grounds near Alaska. Gray whales swim about 6,000 miles from their wintertime stay in the lagoons of Baja California to Alaska.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Studying Whales with Drones

Wayne Perryman, a marine biologist with NOAA Fisheries, launches an unmanned aircraft into the sky above the South Pacific. Perryman uses aerial drones to get close to sperm whales so that he can study their health and physiology. Photo credit: Moira Brown, New England Aquarium.
Counting whales has gone to the drones.  

After years of struggling to survive, the gray whales that migrate along the western Pacific coastline—from the Bering Sea to the Gulf of Mexico—are now under the watchful eye of a hexacopter drone.

Dedicated professionals and volunteers count the migrating gray whales every spring.  It’s been an imperfect count because they can’t always count whales swimming by at night or in stormy weather.  Fortunately, the new whale mothers swim very close to the shore when they take their new calves on their first big swim from Mexico to Alaska.

The drones add an extra “eye” that helps scientists measure the passing whales and observe the mother’s weight and health.  

Blue Whale near San Diego, Ca.

These camera-equipped drones also track orcas (killer whales), sperm whales, blue whales, stellar sea lions, leopard seals and penquins in Antarctica.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Never Touch a Seal


The young person who picked this harbor seal up said that this pup was in danger of being run over.  Maybe it was, maybe it wasn't.  But now that pup is definitely in high danger of dying.  

Why?  Harbor seal mothers can temporarily leave their pups on the rocks or on a beach.  Or the pup might have lost its way while its mother fed during high-tide. There could be many reasons why it is on the beach.

But it is illegal to handle a marine mammal, and it is dangerous.  Call a grown up and have them call a marine mammal rescue center right away.

Harbor seals give birth to their pups in the spring.  

Here is what the experts at the National Marine Mammal Laboratory have to say about harbor seal pups:   "Harbor seals inhabit areas that are also frequented by humans and are easily disturbed. When disturbed the mothers sometimes abandon their pups. Do not try to approach them, the mothers will be back soon to take care of them."

Friday, April 17, 2015

Rare Encounter With Sperm Whale

A magic moment for researchers!

A few days ago researchers ROV had a rare encounter.  "At 598 meters (1,962 ft) below the Gulf of Mexico off the coast of Louisiana, ROV Hercules encountered a magnificent sperm whale. The whale circled Hercules several times and gave our cameras the chance to capture some incredible footage of this beautiful creature. Encounters between sperm whales and ROVs are incredibly rare."

Thursday, January 1, 2015

First Drone Video of Newborn Gray Whale

Gray Whale Calf in San Ignacio Lagoon.  
Welcome new born gray whale!  Here is a video showing a newly born gray whale making its way south to Mexico waters with its mother.  This is spectacular!