Every Bird Matters
news and views from international bird rescue

Posts Tagged ‘ocean’

June 8, 2010

IBRRC’s Jay Holcomb Earns Ocean Hero Award

IBRRC executive director Jay Holcomb was named Oceana’s Ocean Hero for 2010. Holcomb is currently leading IBRRC’s bird rescue effort in the Gulf, working alongside Tri-State Bird Rescue to care for wildlife caught in the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.

The Ocean Heroes contest was created in 2009 to recognize individuals making a difference for the ocean, with winners announced on World Oceans Day. This year, Oceana also named a group of Junior Ocean Heroes, honoring The Shark Finatics from Green Chimney High School in New York.

“We are proud to honor these everyday people who are making a difference for the ocean,” says Oceana’s CEO Andrew Sharpless. “In light of the disaster in the Gulf and the state of the oceans worldwide, we need people like the Holcomb and the Finatics to continue their work and inspire others to get involved.”

Oceana’s 2010 Ocean Heroes contest was launched in March, when the general public was invited to submit nominations. Finalists were selected by a panel of experts from Oceana, and the public was invited to vote online to select the winners.

Holcomb is a lifelong California resident who has been passionate about the ocean since his childhood along the coast. He began his career at the Marin Humane Society and then helped found the rehabilitation program at the Marin Wildlife Center. He joined IBRRC in 1986 with 20 years of animal rehabilitation experience, and has responded to over 200 oil spills around the world, including the 1989 Exxon Valdez and the 1979 Gulf spills.

“It is particularly poignant that I have won this award in the midst of the greatest oil spill in U.S. history,” said Holcomb. “My career stems from a passion that has burned in me since I was a child. I have always approached my work as trying to change the world one bird at a time. My hope is that this award reminds people that whatever we can do personally to protect our ocean does make a difference, no matter how overwhelming the task may seem at times.”

Given his busy schedule on the ground in the Gulf, Holcomb has limited availability for interviews.

Oceana campaigns to protect and restore the world’s oceans. Its teams of marine scientists, economist, lawyers and advocates win specific and concrete policy changes to reduce pollution and to prevent the irreversible collapse of fish populations, marine mammals and other sea life. More at oceana.org

May 17, 2009

Studying natural oil seepage in Santa Barbara area

There’s an excellent report on the Santa Barbara natural oil seepage from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. The study documents the 5,280 to 6,600 gallons (nearly 20 to 25 tons) of oil per day that seeps into the area waters and has been active for hundreds to thousands of years. In earlier days local Native Americans used the oil to waterproof their boats.

From the online report:

The water was calm and flat—dampened by a widespread, iridescent film of oil on the surface. Big oil patties floated about. The air smelled like diesel fuel.

By any definition, it was a classic oil spill. But we were the only boat in the area—no Coast Guard, no oil booms, no throngs of cleanup crews in white Tyvek suits, no helicopters, no media, and no shipwreck.

Why? Because this oil spill was entirely natural. The oil had seeped from reservoirs below the seafloor, leaked through cracks in the crust about 150 feet (45 meters) under water. Lighter than seawater, the escaped oil floated to the ocean surface.

Read more & view photos: While Oil Gently Seeps from the Seafloor

May 13, 2009

Mystery solved: Why big Mercury levels in ocean fish

Scientists have gotten closer to figuring out why ocean fish have high levels of Mercury even though the levels of the chemical aren’t that high in surrounding Pacific Ocean waters. >> See Mercury cycle explained by Oceana

A new study has concluded that the Pacific Ocean absorbs Mercury from the pollutants in the atmosphere where it sinks and decomposes into deeper water and then releases a highly toxic form of the metal that poisons fish.

According to the report, the mercury pollution is a byproduct of coal combustion, industrial waste and other human activities. The study also projects a 50 percent increase in mercury in the Pacific Ocean by 2050 if mercury emission rates continue to climb. From the mid 1990s to 2006, mercury levels increased 30 percent in the ocean.

The study was released this month by a group of scientists from the United States Geological Survey. >> Read full USGS study

Media story:

Link between air pollution, contaminated seafood: New York Times

How to Avoid Mercury When Buying Fish: Oceana

March 27, 2009

New State OF Birds report: Concern and hope

The newest State of Birds report is out this month and there’s both concern and hope. We’re focusing on the The State of Ocean Birds, but the full report covers all areas: lakes, grassland, forest, etc.

From the report: Of 81 ocean bird species, almost half are of conservation concern, including 4 that are federally listed as endangered or threatened. Based on available data, 39% of ocean bird species are declining, 37% stable, and 12% increasing. Too little data exist to determine the population trends for 12% of ocean birds.

Consider these other facts:

  • At least 81 bird species inhabit our nation’s marine waters, spending their lives at sea and returning to islands and coasts to nest.
  • At least 39% of bird species in U.S. marine waters are believed to be declining, but data are lacking for many species. Improved monitoring is imperative for conservation.
  • Ocean birds travel through waters of many nations and are increasingly threatened by fishing, pollution, problems on breeding grounds, and food supplies altered by rising ocean temperatures.
  • The health of our oceans and wildlife will improve with policies that address sustainable fishing, changes in food supply, and pollution.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service coordinated creation of the new report as part of the U.S. North American Bird Conservation Initiative, which includes partners from American Bird Conservancy, the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies, Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Klamath Bird Observatory, National Audubon Society, The Nature Conservancy and the U.S. Geological Survey.

See the full State of Birds report Note this is large PDF file!

November 30, 2008

Do your part: Stash the trash


Oil spills are nasty, horrible messes, but do you know what may be worse? All the trash we dump into the oceans. From plastic lighters to toys to cigarette butts, the sea has become man’s monster garbage disposal. Walk along any beach after a major storm and the things that wash on our beaches will truly astound you.

Save the Bay kicked off a terrific public service campaign in 2006 to encourage all of us to pay attention to how we treat San Francisco Bay. It’s a good reminder for all of us.

Remember the candy wrapper you dropped on the street, or the bag that the wind blew out of your car? Chances are that those items are polluting the Bay and harming wildlife. Trash is accumulating in bays and oceans worldwide – one study found plastic outweighing plankton (the building block of the food web) by 6 to 1…

See Save SF Bay’s website on the Stash your Trash campaign

January 14, 2008

Trashed: The oceans as a dumping ground

Forget global warming, oil spills, the mess in the Middle East and anything else that troubles you. Look to the oceans for something you should really be worried about: Trash.

Yes, the refuse from our modern life is floating around the world’s oceans and washing up on our beaches just to remind us that we’re some of the biggest pigs in the universe.

In the Pacific Ocean experts even have named an area for it: “The Great Pacific Garbage Patch.” The trash in this area collects due to a clockwise trade wind that circulates along the Pacific Rim. The area in the North Pacific Gyre accumulates garbage the same way foam gathers at the center of hot tub.

Disposal lighters, fishing line, plastic toys, fast food containers litter the ocean affecting birds and other marine life. The garbage beaches itself too, (see photo above) causing peril to pelicans and shorebirds that get tangled in the trash or injest the plastic items thinking that it may be food.

See: How ocean trash affects birds

Also see SF Chronicle story: Feds want to survey, possibly clean up vast garbage pit in Pacific

Photo by Paulo Von Borries. Brown pelican at San Gabriel River in Seal Beach, CA.