Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Earth Day Beach Cleanups!

The huge "haul" at Peirce Island, Earth Day 2006. Will we find as much this year?
Want to celebrate Earth Day and help marine life at the same time?  Join us for an upcoming beach cleanup!

All supplies are provided, and the cleanups take 1-2 hours. You can even just drop by for 15 minutes, and that will make a difference to the health of a marine animal!

This green sea turtle in Belize was freed from a plastic tie. The turtle's body had grown around the tie.  Green sea turtles are also found in the Gulf of Maine.John Chinuntdet, 2007/Marine Photobank
How Do Cleanups Help?
Marine debris can affect marine life in a multitude of ways.  Animals can eat debris, which can then lodge in their digestive tract, blocking their ability to digest food. Or it can make them feel full so they don't each enough "real" food. If you want a really graphic example of the effects of marine debris, read this story to learn about a sei whale whose stomach was lacerated by a shard from a DVD case. 

Items such as balloon strings and discarded fishing line can entangle marine life, with sometimes fatal results. If it washes out to the ocean, debris can also help transport invasive species and toxins. 

Let's get it off the beach before it washes away!

Cleanup Schedule:

  • Saturday, April 18:
    • York, ME: Meet at 10:00 AM at Cape Neddick Beach. Hosted by Susan DeQuattro of Coldwell Banker Yorke Reality and Tina Bach.
    • Hampton Beach, NH: Meet at 10:30 AM at the Blue Ocean Discovery Center, 170 Ocean Blvd, Hampton Beach, NH
    • Portsmouth, NH: Meet at 11:00 AM on Peirce Island, on the small hill just past the city pool. 
    • Major Earth Day Sponsor: gells

Hope to see you there!

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Microplastics sampling is gearing up for May start date!

NH Sea Grant and Blue Ocean are gearing up to start microplastics sampling again for 2015.  Because the winter has been so drawn out, we have not been able to get out and get onto the beaches to see what kind of micro-debris winter has deposited on our coastline.  Based on our year-long pilot study, we have been able to determine which beaches are the most impacted by microplastic debris and will become the focus of this year's sampling efforts.  We will also continue to sample the other beaches but not as intensively.  The 5 main beaches that we are looking for consistent volunteer help include: Hampton Beach, Hampton Harbor, Jenness Beach, Jenness Beach at Cable Rd and North Hampton Beach. The other beaches, Wallis Sands, North Beach and New Castle Beach will be sampled less frequently along with Seabrook Beach. We are in the process of setting the sampling schedule and as soon as that is finalized we will be conducting some trainings and recruiting volunteers.  For more information please contact Gabby Bradt at NH Sea Grant, 603-862-2033 or

The Stewardship Network recently wrote an article about our efforts, click on the picture and have look!

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Plastic, Plastic and More Plastic in Provincetown

Race Point Beach on a gray, foggy day
Microplastics, bottle caps and straws by the hundreds... this is what we encountered when we arrived at Race Point Beach in Provincetown, MA for our annual cleanup during the annual New England Whale Watch Naturalist Workshop. The workshop, hosted by Dolphin Fleet of Provincetown, Center for Coastal Studies and Whale and Dolphin Conservation, is an opportunity for whale watch naturalists from around New England to get together to share ideas and learn the latest updates in whale research and conservation. And sometimes, we're lucky enough to even be able to see whales from the beach! But this day it was a bit too foggy.

Cleanup volunteers on a foggy beach
For the last several years, we've worked with the Jesse Mechling, Marine Education Director at the Center for Coastal Studies, to organize a beach cleanup at one of Provincetown's long, beautiful, but sadly trash-ridden beaches. Not only is the cleanup a great team-building and networking opportunity, but it allows us all to make a real difference in the health of local marine life populations by removing marine debris before it washes into the ocean, where it can impact whales and other marine animals through entanglement or ingestion. We also collect data on our findings, and can compare them from year to year.
Sand-covered parking lot at Race Point Beach in Provincetown, MA
This year, first of all, we arrived to find that half the Race Point Beach parking lot was covered with sand due to winter storms. That gave us a good idea of what to expect on the beach, as we headed down to the shore and found lots of storm-tossed debris, especially in the wrack line (the line of seaweed and debris left behind as the tide recedes).

We found a lot more small plastics than we expected. And as an unfortunate example of the persistence of litter, we found 10 biofilm chips from the spill that occurred from the Hooksett, NH wastewater treatment plant on March 6, 2011 (read more about that here).

Bottle cap on the beach
Thanks to the 19 volunteers that helped with this cleanup and removed 40 lbs of debris from the beach in less than an hour! Here are the totals for what we picked up:
362 Plastic pieces
210 Bottle caps
101 Straws
44 Rope pieces
20 Cigarette butts
14 Balloons
13 Food wrappers
11 Plastic bags
11 Foam pieces
10 Hooksett disks (biofilm chips)
8 Plastic beverage bottles
7 Tampon applicators
6 Strapping bands
5 Nets/bait bags
3 Pieces of fishing line
2 Six-pack rings
1 Glove
1 Condom
1 Syringe
1 Glass bottle
Additional items included: Cigarette packaging, zip ties, an oil drum lid, glow sticks, sunglasses, a spoon, 2 cups, 2 (unmatched) boots, a shotgun shell, a razor and a toothbrush.

Us "whaleheads" are always happy when we can be outside
Thanks to everyone who helped!

Want to participate in a cleanup? Learn about Blue Ocean Society's upcoming cleanups here.