Turtle of Change Award comes to Point Richmond

I was honored when the folks at the Sea Turtle Restoration Project decided to pass their ‘Turtle of Change’ to me for her next adventure.  After a refreshing bath in a tub of blue marbles, she joined us for a dog walk and marine debris cleanup at the beach at Ferry Point.

The great news, as has often been the case, the beach had already been cleaned! Even in urban areas around San Francisco Bay, awareness is spreading that plastic pollution is a serious problem, and also one that we can do something about! So kudos to the eco-warriors who got there before me today!

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We didn’t find much today – but we do continue to find shotgun wadding from the duck hunters up in San Pablo Bay. They don’t seem to think twice when shooting from their boats and duck blinds out over the water. It’s a major problem, and one that many groups around the Bay have been working on for years.

Even in our small pile of garbage, The Turtle of Change found a way to entangle herself in plastic… just like so many of her buddies offshore.  This time her foster Mom was there to remove it. But what about some other time, when she’s off at sea alone? Who will free her then?

At the end of the day, our STRP turtle asked if she could have some screentime, and exhibited incredible dexterity with her flippers while surfing the internet. She read news of her home, Montenegro, crippled by a historic snow storm.  “I’m glad to be in sunny California,” she quipped!

National Comic Strip Follows Tagged Sea Turtle

In a perfect blend of art, science and fun, ocean conservationist and comic strip artist Jim Toomey is featuring the real life journey of Fillmore, a Green Sea tagged by a group from SeaTurtles.org and PRETOMA this past September off Costa Rica’s Cocos Island.

Toomey hopes to connect hundreds of thousands of readers, young and old to conservation efforts led by SeaTurtles.org at the remote Cocos Island National Park offshore of Costa Rica. Fillmore the green sea turtle in the comic strip shares anecdotes on illegal fishing, coral reef ecology, and actual scuba-diving spots that the real sea turtle encounters during its meanderings at Cocos Island.

“Cocos Island is one of the most amazing underwater habitats in the world, but even this protected area is under siege from illegal fishing that kills endangered sea turtles,” said Todd Steiner, director at SeaTurtle.org and one of the researchers who attached the satellite-tracking device to the real sea turtle they named Fillmore. “Fillmore in the comic strip can reach millions of kids who can be the next generation of sea turtle activists working to save these imperiled creatures from extinction.”

Toomey has used Sherman’s Lagoon to promote awareness of ocean and shark conservation efforts and last partnered with SeaTurtle.org to raise awareness of sea turtles trapped in the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

Sign up today at www.seaturtles.org/fillmore to get daily updates about Fillmore’s wanderings, facts about the remote Cocos Island, and alerts about what you can do to help protect sea turtles and their habitat.

And how about this for a Christmas Gift? You can even adopt a real sea turtle nest on a beach in Costa Rica under the protection of SeaTurtles.org’s partner project PRETOMA (www.pretoma.org). They also protect sharks and promote a pledge to eat seafood that is caught in ways that are safe to sea turtles.

Fillmore will be featured at Cocos Island for the entire Thanksgiving week and for a few days afterward before he returns to his digs at Sherman’s Lagoon.

Shark Hero Jared Huffman Honored

Ocean Champion Assemblyman Jared Huffman (D-Marin/Sonoma), was honored on Sunday at Sea Stewards wrap-up Sharktoberfest event hosted by Turtle Island Restoration Network and Lori Grace of Sunrise Center in Corte Madera.

There was a great deal to celebrate this year – the passing into law of CA Bill AB 376 banning the sale of shark fins in the state, as well as shark sanctuaries popping up around the globe in ever increasing numbers as public awareness grows of the key role of sharks in ocean ecosystems and planetary health. It truly is a case of ‘No Fins, No Future.’

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And as David McGuire reminded us, poaching is a big issue, and the need for enforcement of ‘shark safety zones’ remains a challenge that we must face as we move forward to protect sharks worldwide. And now that the shark fin ban has been signed into law, next up will be to ban the killing of sharks altogether in California waters.

Todd Steiner, Executive Director of the Turtle Island Restoration Network welcomed David McGuire to the crew out in Forest Knolls. David will be directing their ‘Got Mercury.org’ program working to protect fish & public health. David will also continue his shark research, conservation and advocacy and with the TIRN team, will be able to achieve even greater success for ocean protection.

This has definitely been Sea Stewards (and the sharks’) best Sharktober yet!

‘Washed Ashore’ ~ Plastics, Marine Life and the Sea

Artist Angela Hazletine Pozzi

The Marine Mammal Center hosted the Grand Opening of their exciting new exhibit featuring work by Oregon artist Angela Haseltine Pozzi.  Along with her team of community volunteers, she collected approximately 7,000 pounds of trash from 20 miles of beaches along the southern Oregon coast last year and fashioned it into sculptures, all related to the sea: fish, turtles, jellyfish, coral and more.

Folks at the Marine Mammal Center in Sausalito, California know better than anyone about the catastrophic effects of marine debris on sea life. Every year, they are faced with attempting rescues on animals who are entangled in nets or have ingested plastic waste, often with lethal effects.  And it gets worse. When plastic degrades and breaks down into powder-sized bits, even plankton will ingest it, causing plastic to be almost omnipresent in the marine food chain.

In every square mile of ocean, there are 46,000 bits of plastic.  Bits and pieces of plastic caps, bottles, netting, flip flops, bottles and other trash — mostly plastic — were organized by color and then assembled into large sculptures.  The show can be viewed any day through Oct. 15. It is free to the public.

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Says Pozzi, “We welcome people to come and play,” she said. “It’s a terribly depressing topic and if you just dwell on the negative people walk away. But if people take their picture in front of it then they remember it. We have to engage people in new ways.”

This is the first time the art has been in California. When it was displayed in Oregon last year, Jeff Boehm, executive director at the Marine Mammal Center, saw it and wanted to bring it to Marin.

“We think this exhibit will engage our visitors with the pretty ugly truth about ocean trash and help them make the connection between their health, the health of our oceans and how their actions have an impact on both,” Boehm said. “On average, 8 to 10 percent our patient admissions are due to human interactions including those related to entanglements in trash.”