Sri Lanka Ship Fire Leads to Huge Release of Plastic Pellets (Nurdles)

Sri Lanka undertakes the daunting cleanup of countless plastic pellets (nurdles) that have washed up on its beaches from a cargo ship that caught fire. In the photo at left, plastic pellets being collected from beaches are to be transported to a hazardous waste yard (image courtesy Marine Environment Protection Authority, MEPA). For more on this story, read the article below.

With fire contained, Sri Lanka faces plastic pellet problem from stricken ship

Stranded Seal Pup

Stranded seal pup

Early Sunday morning, May 16, 2021, SEA received a call from a concerned citizen about a pup seal on the beach around marker 145, which is between Bullard’s Beach and Whiskey Run.  A message went out to those already on a phone tree text for Coquille Point.  I decided to respond to the call and headed out with signage and flags.  First I went to Bullard’s Beach but decided I didn’t want to walk what could have been 2 plus miles north.  I ended up at Whiskey Run since no other entry point in between could be found.  It was fate that I was being lazy and decided to try to find an easier route to this stranded seal pup. As I was walking south on the beach, I flagged down a truck coming north to ask if they had seen the pup.  A local, Kristal, not only knew where the pup was but drove me the more than 2 miles south.  As it turned out, if it were not for Kristal I would have had to walk more than 2 miles south instead of less than 2 miles north from Bullard’s.   But it was meant to be that I meet this concerned citizen who wanted to help.  We found the pup in the middle of the sandy beach with tire tracks all around.  As we were placing flags and signage, the pup kept crying but then got motivated to turn around and head into the water.  We both felt good that this pup would easily reunite with its mother and all would be good in the world again. 

While we were traveling to the parking lot at Whiskey Run, Kristal said there was a dead seal just north, and it had been there at least 3 days.  She drove over to it, and I was able to take a picture and send it to Jim Rice of the Marine Mammal Stranding Network.  Kristal is now aware of how to respond and report these kinds of issues.  She truly is a person who cares about wildlife and goes driving on the beach often.  Since we had time, Kristal ended up telling me a story about how she rescued a Canadian goose with a broken leg.  When she could not get any organization to take the bird, she decided to see if she could help it to heal.  She made a splint for the broken leg. After three months of care, “Quacky”, as she named it, was successfully released near a pond inland.  As we know, this was probably not the smart thing to do, but with no organization willing to help she just had to try and in the end all worked out.  It is caring citizens like Kristal that make a difference, and I am glad I was able to enlighten her on what to do next time.  And it was a rewarding experience knowing this baby seal pup was safe again.


Tufted Puffin Observations, April-May 2021

Contributor: Diane B

As some of you know, the Peregrine falcons (PEFA) have been nesting on top of Face Rock.  While they started early, it appears that they lost one clutch and then started again on April 14, 2021 and so have been incubating about 29 days.  Cornell Birds of the World says that PEFA incubates 33-35 days so we are close to seeing hatching if they are successful.  The PEFA nest is located in a cleft under a large boulder on the right or north side of Face Rock located under the Common Murre nesting area.  This boulder is in an area of rocky boulders that Tufted Puffins (TUPU) have used as their summer nesting burrows.  On 5/3/21, I could see the PEFA in the nest and as I was watching through my scope, I saw TUPU, sometimes one and then there were two, taking flights low right over the PEFA nest boulder and the PEFA on the nest looking up each time they flew by.  Then finally, one literally flew into a burrow just above where the PEFA nest was.  I initially started to wonder why and then saw the PEFA mate fly into the TUPU burrow and stick its head into this burrow.  I could see the tail and hip area of the bird and it was moving like it was using a foot or beak to grab on to a bird.  I was very reassured when the bird came out without any TUPU or bloody beak or claws.  But then it went immediately up to another burrow area and stuck its head in it.  Then it flew up to the top of a boulder just above these two burrows and perched for a bit before taking off again.  I have attached a photo with the PEFA circled in red, TUPU burrow in orange and the upper burrow that the PEFA also explored in pink. The next photo shows a TUPU standing on a rock that is just to the right of the TUPU burrow.

On 5/8/21, I saw TUPU flying over the PEFA  nest and again one dove into the burrow.  A few minutes later another bird went in the same burrow and another came out, stood for just a moment and then took off.  This happened several times and so I was finally able to get a photo of one of the TUPU in the burrow area.  In addition, I saw a TUPU do the same sort of “dive into the burrow” in the burrow areas left of the PEFA nest area.  So this behavior might explain why it is so hard to see TUPU on Face Rock now.  I have seen at least four TUPU but there could easily be more.  

The third photo shows the circled red areas in which I have seen TUPU on Face Rock this year.  I fully expect that we may see TUPU in the rocky boulder area to the left of the lower boulders (line of boulders in which the PEFA is nesting).  In earlier years, this whole large rocky area was home to lots of TUPU burrows and we called them the “Apartment Houses”.  The last two photos are of the TUPU burrows in what we call the “Penthouse” as it is the highest TUPU burrow on Face Rock. 

Two Tufted Puffins
Tufted Puffin below Common Murre nesting area
Observed TUPU this year on Face Rock
Circles: red = PEFA; orange = TUPU burrow; pink = PEFA explored burrow

Seaweed is amazing!

This BBC video and text about Australian kelp research and production highlights some of the potential benefits these fast-growing shoreline plants could offer, including as a climate change solution. “Seaweeds are a platform of opportunity in sustainability, nutrition, and innovation.”

Cleaning up Kaneohe Bay with Sea Urchins

Comment: Sunday, March 7, 2021

Sunday, March 7, 2021

Taking back the bay A sea urchin program by the University of Hawaii has been cleaning up Kaneohe Bay algae for a decade and doing a good job
By Timothy

Ten years ago the patch reefs in Kaneohe Bay were in pretty sad shape smothered and getting choked out by an invasive seaweed species introduced decades before.Today, it’s a different story in the bay. Most of those reefs are pretty healthy and largely clear of the marauding algae, thanks in large part to a unique bio-control program started by the University of Hawaii at Manoa Pacific Cooperative Studies Unit and the state Division of Aquatic Resources. It was 10 years ago that the first hatchery-raised sea urchins were released into Hawaii’s largest sheltered body of water, left to munch and mow down the seaweed like goats in a grass field.To date, the sea urchin bio-control project has treated more than 227 acres of reef inKaneohe Bay and has recently expanded to the Waikiki Marine Life Conservation District to control invasive algae.Funded by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the state, the hatchery has produced more than 600,000 sea urchins that have been released into the wild.

“This is one of the most effective marine invasive species control projects implemented in Hawaii,” said Shaya Honarvar, director of the university’s Pacific Cooperative Studies Unit.

The collector urchins, “This is one of the most effective marine invasive species control projects implemented in Hawaii.”Shaya HonarvarDirector, Pacific Cooperative Studies, UH ManoaThe sea urchin biocontrol project has released 600,000 sea urchins across the state, above. At left, project staff raise the sea urchins until they’re large enough to be released into the wild. (DNLR / DAR PHOTOS)Hatchery manager David Cohen.
(Tripneustes gratilla) are spawned, settled and raised at the state’s Anuenue Fisheries Research Center at Sand Island, a building that was once home to a prawn hatchery dating back to the 1970s.

The man in charge is David Cohen, a career aquaculture professional who accepted the challenge more than a decade ago to establish the world’s first hatchery for sea urchin used for bio-control.It didn’t take long for Cohen to figure out how to raise the urchins, and he continues to work at improving the tricky process in a climate-controlled facility that handles the creatures from egg to maturity.Parent urchins are collected from local reefs and taken to the hatchery to spawn. At any given time, the facility is occupied by as many as 15 million urchins in various stages of life, including some 20,000 to 60,000 young urchins earmarked for out-planting.After about 26 days growing from larvae to urchin, they are moved into horizontal tanks lining the interior of the hatchery. After four to six months, the urchins are trucked to a boat for placement on reefs. Kaneohe Bay is home to one of the only barrier reef systems in the United States, offering shelter for a wide variety of aquatic wildlife.

But the corals in the bay were ailing, under attack from non-native seaweeds brought to Hawaii in the 1970s for experimental aquaculture projects that were later abandoned. The seaweed escaped and spread throughout the bay.Before the hatchery was created, two types of invasive macroalgae Kappaphycus and Euchuema grew in thick mats on top of reefs in Kaneohe Bay, blocking sunlight, killing coral and reducing the watery habitat’s ability to produce fish and marine life.”Some places it was 2 or 3 feet deep,” Cohen said of the seaweed.It was so thick that divers would first have to remove the algae, scooping it up in thick mounds before feeding it into a suction pump mounted on a barge nicknamed “The Super Sucker.

“The urchins would then be planted in a space where they could do their thing, paving the way for coral to regrow and allow for open spaces for fish, native seaweed and invertebrates to use as habitat.While a 2018 UH study found that native sea urchins had successfully reduced the invasive, reef-smothering macroalgae by 85%, Cohen said he and others have seen patch reefs where most, if not all, of the invasive seaweed is gone.Nowadays the Super Sucker machine isn’t needed. The bay’s reef areas are monitored for algae regrowth and urchins are out-planted as needed if invasive seaweed is detected.

In a few weeks, survey divers are scheduled to go out into the bay and determine where to out-plant sea urchins for the rest of the year.”They will find plots that need spot-treating,” Cohen said.Building on the success at Kaneohe Bay, the Division of Aquatic Resources last year began out-planting hatchery- raised urchins in the Waikiki Marine Life Conservation District. Some 100,000 urchins were placed in a 4-acre reef covered by invasive algae.

“We hope to see the same level of success in Waikiki to improve coral habitat and expand healthy reef coverage in the most visible MLCD in the state,” Wesley Dukes, DAR Habitat Monitoring Coordinator, said in a news release last year.If other areas in Hawaii need invasive-algae cleaning, the $400,000-a-year project will consider sending urchins there as well, Cohen said.Cohen said the project’s success has not gone unnoticed. Officials in Puerto Rico have contacted him and are hoping to replicate the effort following the pandemic using an urchin in the same genus. The Caribbean has been plagued by invasive seaweed over the past decade.”I believe it will be a game changer in the Caribbean,” Cohen said.

Copyright (c)2021 Honolulu Star-Advertiser, Edition 3/7/2021Powered by TECNAVIA

Are you a Nurdle Collector?

Well, maybe you’d like to become one. If you don’t know what a “nurdle” is, please read the article below. This new crisis to our waterways and oceans is very real and VERY destructive. We are finding nurdles regularly on our beaches in Bandon. They are extremely dangerous to the fish in our oceans, so we at SEA are putting together monthly “Nurdle Patrols” to do our part in trying to reduce the damage being done by the manufacturers of nurdles. Please let us know if you want to be added to our email list for alerting you to the dates of our nurdle patrols. Just send an email to and we will send you dates and locations as they become available.

Tufted Puffins delight visitors to the Oregon Coast. But their population has plummeted.

If you are like the thousands of people who flock to the Oregon Coast every summer to catch sight of a tufted puffin, you should know that this “Clown of the Sea” is in danger of disappearing from our shores. Read the article below and see what is happening to this beautiful sea bird.