I’ve been listening to arguments pro and con about the Jordan Cove pipeline and terminal for a few years, forming and expressing my own opinion about it. Regardless which side of the argument you or I come down on, it’s good to be confident that our opinions and positions have solid science and clear thinking undergirding them, don’t you think?
Speaking for myself, I’m learning more about the issues weekly. The following link to an article that one of our partner non-profits, Oregon Shores Conservation Coalition, just posted has significantly increased my understanding of the issues and the impact of the proposed project.
I invite you to read it and to see if it’s helpful. The environment – and, because of where we live, especially our marine environment – is an area that is pivotal to our futures. I hope you find the article to be helpful.
Unless you live in a cave or on a remote island without any communication with the rest of the world, you have undoubtedly read, heard and talked about the enormous problem of plastic in our environment. We listen, we watch, we read, and sometimes we wring our hands in anger and frustration. (Okay, YOU may not do the hand-wringing, but I do!)
About a year ago my life partner and I decided we had to do SOMETHING – ANYTHING – about plastic pollution. No matter how small our efforts appear to us in comparison to the enormity of the problem, we have committed to doing something about it.
Are you ready? Or are you already way beyond where we are? Either way, that’s great! It’s a little embarrassing to me that we haven’t done more than this. But as you can see from the list below, anyone can do what we’re doing without becoming fanatical.
You can write letters to congressional and corporate leaders. This can be as simple as filling out your contact information to a form letter created by an environmental non-profit and hitting the submit button. Or you can take the next step and write to the heads of companies manufacturing plastics and to the heads of corporations using their products.
When you see plastic being used by hotels, restaurants, stores, and bars you can register your displeasure with staff and suggest what they can do to change. Request no straw when ordering any beverage and explain why to the server. Just last week we were staying in a very nice motel in Eugene. At the complimentary (and very good) breakfast we were dismayed to see plastic utensils and cups being used. I mentioned this in person on checking out, and wrote it in an evaluation they sent me via email. I got a reply thanking me for saying what I said and letting me know that they had already ordered metal utensils. I was delighted!
Bring your own take-home containers for leftovers when you go out to eat.
Bring your own cloth shopping bags to the store. If you forgot it at home, refuse a bag if you have few enough items to carry by hand.
If you floss your teeth like your dentist has been telling you all your life, switch from nylon floss (plastic) to silk. Don’t buy it in plastic dispensers, my floss comes in refillable glass containers with a metal lid: Silk Dental Floss
We no longer use dryer sheets because they don’t biodegrade quickly. Instead, we use natural dryer balls made of 100% New Zealand wool. Check it out at Woolzies.
Wouldn’t it be great if we never again had to take home our store-bought spinach in plastic packaging or clam shell (plastic) containers? Tell the stores where you shop to put pressure on their suppliers to switch. Can you imagine the impact if Walmart refused to sell spinach in plastic?
These are just a few ideas we’ve begun doing in our home. Please let us know what you’re doing that we can do, too. This is a lifelong battle that may never be completely won (at least not in my lifetime), but I believe it’s a battle worth fighting. Do you???
I just finished reading NOAA’s Habitat News this morning and was so excited to see that they are regaling the efforts of NOAA, The Nature Conservancy and other environmental and governmental/tribal groups in Coos County for successfully restoring fish habitat on the Coquille River. Take a look and see for yourself. You may get goosebumps just like I did!
We will be having our second annual Marine Debris Seminar at Washed Ashore this Saturday, February 16, 2019, beginning at 3 PM. Wine and Cheese will be served.
Dorothy Horn, PhD student in Environmental Science and Management at Portland State University will lead us through the research she and her colleagues are conducting to find collaborative solutions to plastic pollution using science and public policy.
Please join us if you can.
This is Seal Beach near Los Angeles after a winter storm.
No words are needed for this photo above and the ones below. They speak for themselves, don’t you agree? We need to do something about the horror we humans have been creating. Let’s talk about it. Let’s do something about it!!!
On Saturday, October 27, 2018, SEA had its 28th Annual Meeting at the Bandon Community Center. Those who attended were treated to a fascinating presentation of research that was conducted on gray whales this summer in Port Orford by a group of Oregon State University’s Geospatial Ecology of Marine Megafauna Lab. The leader of the team, Lisa Hildebrand, and team member Robyn Norman traveled to Bandon from Corvallis to deliver the presentation. It was EXCELLENT!!
Judging from all the questions from the audience following the close of the presentation, I concluded that listeners were highly engaged in the research. We were given a detailed description of how the research was done, what technologically sophisticated equipment was used, what kinds of information it gave the researchers, and the how the data supported their conclusions. In brief, we learned that there are several gray whales that spend time feeding in the kelp beds of Port Orford return from year to year. We got to see how the research team identified them by the markings on their bodies (and the names they gave them). And we learned that zooplankton preferences exist in whales through the analysis of fecal matter sampling. Who would have guessed that an animal that ingests many tons of food every day could be so picky??
Attendees were also given an update on the summer visitor statistics, shown photos of some of the remarkable wildlife that grace our summer shores for breeding and for resting. We also learned about the new partnerships SEA has been forming. The board is firmly committed to doing all we can to educate the public about our marine ecosystem. We will continue to learn all we can about challenges and solutions to our coastal environment, sharing them with the public in a variety of ways. At the same time we are committed to volunteering our own time to assist other organizations with their efforts.
US Fish & Wildlife Service Visitor Services Manager Dawn Harris informed us of the new refuge manager we will be getting in early November, Kate Iaquinto. We are looking forward to working with her in the coming years. Dawn also announced that USF&W will be removing the current Bandon Marsh HQ structure to build a new one. Completion expected in 2020, and it will have a private office for SEA. We are very appreciative.
SEA members have been performing quarterly beach cleanups in addition to helping SOLVE with their events. SEA is making one change to the SOLVE activity – we will be using burlap bags rather than the plastic ones we’d been using. These burlap bags are reusable as well as biodegradable so they will not present a pollution problem when they wear out and are thrown away. We are happy to be able to purchase them from Ray-Jen Coffee and pass them out to all who want to remove debris from the beaches around Bandon.
SEA plans once again to offer 4 seminars in the Winter of 2019, beginning in January. As soon as the dates and presenters are set, they will appear on the Events page.
Finally, an election was held to appoint the next year’s board of directors. You can see the names by clicking on the “Board of Directors” tab at the bottom of the home page. All of us on the board and our core volunteers are looking forward to the coming summer season. Hope to see you at our events!
Saturday, May 25, 2018, was a day of “once in a lifetime” events – two to be exact. Couple this with two other unusual sights, and you have an incredible day for the volunteers and visitors who were there.
The day began with two “unusual” sightings. The tide was high, so the water came up right to the base of the point upon which we set up our scopes. Immediately after I arrived, and almost close enough to hit with a rock, was a sea otter floating on her back munching away at the breakfast she was holding between her paws. Sea otters are pretty rare in Oregon, so seeing one so close was exciting.
A few minutes later, SEA’s resident expert on marine mammals, Bill Binnewies, saw a gray whale surface and blow inside the outer rocks of the reef. Not so unusual as a sea otter, but infrequent enough and close enough to knock our socks off!
Then I heard a dad telling his son, “Look, son, just below us is a harbor seal trying to get her pup into the water.” The seal mom and pup were maybe only 10 feet from the water, but even 10 feet is a long way for a new born seal. And now the tide was beginning to recede, adding some urgency to her efforts. Here’s a video of the patient but somewhat insistent mom gently coaxing her pup into the water.
When they finally made it there (maybe 20 minutes later), the mom dropped her placenta into the sea, a bright red blob that got everyone’s attention – especially the birds in the area. The placenta sank to the bottom – only a couple of feet deep – but neither the gull nor the turkey vultures nor the eagles that arrived could get it up to a rock. Of course, the gull had a mere few seconds to try before the 3 turkey vultures chased him off. The turkey vultures, in turn, had even less time before three immature bald eagles chased them away.
The eagles held for forth for maybe 30 minutes before they gave up and left, unable to get to the placenta, which was still too far under water. Then, for the next little bit of time while the tide continued to recede, the placenta seemed to lay unnoticed by everyone except a few of us up on the point. Finally, an enterprising and eager gull noticed the changing sea and was able to grab the blob as a wave moved it up onto shallower water. Before the wave slipped back into the ocean, she grabbed hold of the placenta and was able to keep it up on the rock. HALLELUJAH!
Her euphoria was short-lived as the papa bald eagle arrived and staked his claim to the meal. His kids arrived quickly and insisted on being included in the feast, and the family made short work of their meal. See the accompanying video of the dad, one of the kids, and a frustrated crow.
So two events – the placenta dropping into the water for all to see and the feeding of the bald eagles on the placenta – were ones that no one on the point that morning had ever seen before. We felt particularly blessed.
“Armageddon” in Webster’s Dictionary is defined as “a usually vast decisive conflict or confrontation.” We are steadily approaching a plastic armageddon (in the sense of decisive confrontation). It’s impossible to look at all the ways we humans are assaulting the environment without seeing and understanding that plastic is a major instrument of destruction – especially to our streams, rivers and oceans.
Consider this graphic:
Yes. All of our waste impacts our environment. But nothing is more permanent and causes more death to marine life than plastic.
You and I can retard the spread of plastic pollution. Look at this graphic to see ways to do it:
There is no pain or sacrifice created in our lives by implementing every one of these changes. In fact, they may even save you money. And they are little things. Bring your own bag when you shop. Bring your own mug to your favorite coffee shop. Stop buying bottled water and carry your own with you in a reusable bottle. Take care of your teeth without using plastic. Painless solutions that can begin the gradual turn away from plastic.
What do you say? Can you do it? I hope so. The world needs all of us caring about what we are doing to it.
Here’s a Tedx talk that sets forth some very stunning research, demonstrating the crisis in our environment. I encourage you to listen to it and ask yourself, “What am I doing about this?” What CAN we do? Perhaps you can offer some ideas?
Shoreline Education for Awareness cares about environmental awareness, and I believe this video promotes this awareness. Take a listen and see for yourself.
Shoreline Education for Awareness (SEA) volunteers are a privileged group of people. We are taught by wildlife experts about the lives and behaviors of a wide range of shoreline creatures – from birds and pinnipeds to whales and tide pool creatures. Then, we observe and verify; we watch mating rituals and nesting habits; see newborns cared for by devoted parents; and rejoice when the young go off on their own.
Yesterday my partner, Susan, and I were doing our shift at Simpson Reef watching pinnipeds (seals and sea lions) through our telescopes. If you’ve been to Simpson Reef with one of our volunteers, you know that these pinnipeds that are pulled out on Shell Island and the surrounding rocks are not doing much performing for the adoring crowds. Mostly, they’re lying around, sleeping or climbing over each other. If we are lucky, we get to watch one or two climb up on a rock island for some “alone time.” For nearly 4 hours there is not much activity for visitors to see.
And then, boom!! Something happens and the whole herd of sea lions (California and Stellar), as if in one well-rehearsed dance, react to something in the water that sends part of the herd scurrying away while another section in unison heads in the direction of the intrusion. It was puzzling and exciting at the same time. What made them do this? We’ll never know, but our “time served” paid off in an instant.
It reminded me once again that “hanging out” with pinnipeds, as with birds, takes patience and perseverance. And to those who endure the waiting, some wondrous scenes play out before our eyes and we go home glowing from what we’ve seen this day. What a privilege!!
Perhaps just as much of a privilege is our getting to share what we know and what we see with thousands of people visiting our cliffside perches in Bandon and Charleston. Yesterday we interacted with folk from as far away as Germany and as close as Coos Bay. Many of the 167 visitors that day have never had a chance to view marine life in its natural habitat. Both young and old were genuinely thrilled to see our pinniped friends and left the reef with a mental (as well as photographic) image of sea life that is strange and wondrous to them. And to us, seeing their response to the discovery of marine life was as much of a joy as viewing these fascinating creatures through our scopes.
Today was a great day at Simpson Reef. The weather was beautiful, and 152 visitors from all over the world were delighted by the harbor seals, Northern elephant seals, California sea lions and Stellar sea lions. Families from Amsterdam, Switzerland, and New Zealand joined others from Alberta, Canada as well as New York, Minnesota, Colorado, Washington, Hawaii, Utah and Oregon – 152 in all – to watch these pinnipeds lounging around on Shell Island and the surrounding rocks.
To add to the glory of the day, between 15 to 20 pelicans delighted us with their dramatic fly-by. They look so majestic as they skim the surface of the ocean in formation, resembling something out of the imagination of George Lucas – only real and regal.
Come enjoy the show any Friday, Saturday, or Sunday between 11 AM and 3 PM at Simpson Reef. You won’t be disappointed (unless the fog rolls in and erases the canvas of Shell Island’s artistic expressions!!!).