Thursday, 24 December 2009
As I mentioned earlier I have made a detour to England from the USA to tell people about my experiences with marine litter and make sure everyone takes responsibility for disposing of all that extra packaging from Christmas presents (recycled where possible) and all those extra plastic drink bottles. My buddy Steve wrote an article for the local newspapers about my experiences, about Plastic Free Friday, about the terrible death of albatross and other marine life.
Here is the article that appeared in one of the local newspapers (Shoreham Herald). Unfortunately they did not have space for all of the article and they had to leave some of it out. We did have 12 cm of snow at the time, which is big news for us in Sussex, so we were given quite a lot of space and on page 2 as well! There was still plenty of the message to pass on and the article included my weblog address (which was also on the newspapers website) so hopefully plenty of people were able to follow this and get the full story.
Wednesday, 23 December 2009
Back home in the UK and I am staying with Bella over Christmas. Its a shame I missed the snow. Bella said there were lots of birds visiting the garden for food, such as this great tit.
After Christmas Day there will be lots of unwanted packaging and so I wanted to reminder people that we need to make sure that it is disposed of properly and where possible recycled to make sure it does not find its way into the environment and to save energy. Humans also tend to produce more waste such as glass and plastic bottles, food packaging etc during the festive season and so this all needs to be recycled too!
Your friend Ed the Bear.
P.s. Bella says she hopes that she will also get to meet you some time soon, maybe you can come and stay with us later in 2010.
Saturday, 19 December 2009
Bella sent me another message, this time about acids and alkali, you may remember we were talking about pH yesterday. As I have talked about on several occasions already, global warming is heating up the oceans causing the polar ice caps to melt. Bella told me that global warming is also causing more carbon dioxide in the oceans which is making the water more acid and over time will dissolve the shells of any hard bodied animal such as coral and sea snails.
Bella suggested an experiment you can have a go at with the help of an adult.
All you need is some chalk and some clear vinegar and a glass.
1. Fill the glass one-half full with vinegar.
2. Add the piece of chalk to the glass.
3. Observe what happens to the chalk.
After a short time, bubbles will start rising from the chalk. If you leave it in the glass long enough, the chalk will completely break apart. The chemical name for vinegar is acetic acid and chalk is made of a mineral called limestone. The acetic acid and limestone form a chemically reaction when put together. One of the new substances that forms in this reaction is carbon dioxide gas. The bubbles rising from the chalk are the carbon dioxide gas.
This is a very speeded up version of what acid oceans will do to the shells and hard bodies of animals with a calcium shell. It will not happen so dramatically as the oceans are less acidic, but overtime the shells will weaken as they begin to dissolve.
Friday, 18 December 2009
Today, Methea asked me if I would help her check out the marine invertebrate aquarium which Methea uses to teach the kids about marine invertebrates and coral reefs. Methea told me it had been several months since she had done a water change on the aquarium which holds 180 gallon (681 litres) saltwater. The tank is home for various invertebrates ranging from tube worms to hermit crabs, and includes corals and sea anemones.
Methea's favourite hermit crab
We showed kids how plant plankton is important to all marine animals even big creatures such as sharks, as it is at the bottom of most marine food chains. Some sharks, such as basking sharks and whale sharks actually eat plankton too!
Here are some of the animals that feed on the phytoplankton, including the tube worms, and corals
Feather duster tube worm
Phew! That was hard work, but great fun and I learned a lot about the oceans, just as Methea said I would. It’s amazing to think how much work you have to do to keep just a small piece of ocean in an aquarium healthy. All this work the ocean does naturally everyday with the help of ocean currents. In a real coral reef the cycling of the tides and water movement, would keep water quality just right and provide the coral reef animals with a balanced diet of food. In the wild there is a delicate balance between the plankton feeders and the hunters. They all have special ways of catching food and ways to avoid being eaten. So the animals and the water chemistry are kept in a natural balance without any need for interference from humans.
Even with all this careful monitoring Methea said we still cannot keep all the corals healthy all the time. Methea said one of her favorite corals recently died off for unknown reasons.
So Methea’s marine aquarium shows just how complicated the oceans are as they need no help controlling water temperature, pH, salinity (saltiness), keeping the water rich with oxygen, filtering out animal waste and natural chemicals and turning them into harmless substances and much more. All done naturally.
However, this also illustrates that this complicated habitat can be easily damaged by humans. Dumping chemicals in the ocean that should not be there and removing things that should, can only cause harm to the oceans health.
Bye for now, from a very tired little bear.
Thursday, 17 December 2009
She sent me a picture of herself in the snow.
There is even snow on Shoreham Beach, my local beach back home. The pebble beach is covered with snow right down to the high tide mark. The shingle plants that live there are safely protected beneath the shingle, ready to burst into life next spring.
Monday, 30 November 2009
I was lucky enough to go along with Ron to the Port Gamble S’klallam tribal reservation. Ron has visiting the S’klallam people to work with them on the book history project. I visited the library with Fred. All libraries are important, but this one is extra special as it is the very first public library on an Indian Reservation in America.
I would have loved to find out more about these people and the way they live, but my visit had to be very short. You can find out more about the Port Gamble S’klallam people by visiting this website http://www.pgst.nsn.us/ There is lots of information about how they live, their history and culture.
Art and stories are very important part of S’klallam culture. Stories and art can belong to a family and/or the Tribe. I hope one day that I might get to send more time with the S’klallam people and maybe share stories.
Ron has written a story called Seya’s Song which also has come beautiful illustrations by Constance Bergum
Next time you hear from me I will be in Spokane, also in Washington State
Bye for now, Ed
Saturday, 28 November 2009
Ron told me today about some very special humans, the S’Klallam tribe who I might be able to meet while I am here. Sadly, the S'Klallam people have been displaced from much of their former homeland, but they do still live on traditional place. Ron said that when he travels around the US it is always sad to know of what happened to other original people that were not so lucky.
Ron said there are many tribes, infact there are many living in about a 50 mile circle from his home. There are Suquamish, Snoqualmie, Snohomish, Skokokomish, Tulalip, Jamestown S'Klallam, Elwha S'Klallam, Duwamish, lots of tribes. The original people, their culture and the way they live influences the work that Ron is doing. He said “I gather a heck of a lot of why I do what I do from and with them”.
Ron’s told me his family has been close to S'Klallam people for way more than a century and it is fun to look at historic photos and see how his family fit into the lives of the original people here. Infact Ron has been working with them on a history book project for three years now.
My buddy Steve did some work on Amazon Rainforest and got to meet some Amazonian People who came over to the UK because of all the damage caused to rainforests. This was a long time ago before I meet Steve. A main problem is cutting down all the trees, but problems with rainforest are also linked to global warming.
Friday, 27 November 2009
I have checked it out already and it is a great site. This is so much better than a museum filled with stuffed animals that once lived and are now extinct. What is better still is that these animals are still alive - well for now anyway. Its also great to see all these amazing humans that are doing their very best to make sure that these animals are around for future generation. Lots of inspiration. People have gotta help and take responsibility once they have visited Fred's museum.
All I can say is "Fred, just keep doing what you do best"
You can visit Fred's museum at http://museumoceanlife.blogspot.com/
Thursday, 26 November 2009
Wednesday, 25 November 2009
Tuesday, 24 November 2009
Its time to leave Kauai and go back to Marrowstone Island with Fred and Ron. I have had a great time on this most beautiful of Islands with its friendly people with such great hearts.I hope I will get a chance to return again sometime. I have learned so much during my stay here.
As well as learning about the Hawaiian culture I have also learned some Hawaiian words.
Here are a few.
One of the first words I learned was Kuleana, meaning responsibility. The word for Oceans is Kai. These two words together have great meaning for the Hawaiian people, for Fred and now for me also.
Malama i ke kai means to “care for or protect the ocean,” a very important Hawaiian value that dates back over centuries. I hope the children back in the UK will have the opportunity to learn about the respect the Hawaiian people have for the oceans.
Even though the oceans and land seem very seperate they are linked together in many ways, such as the water cycle. The oceans also control our climate. So I have also learned this sentence as well Malama i ke kai ame ka 'aina which means "protect the ocean and land"
These are also words that I have learned from the Hawaiin people that are also an important part of the Hawaiian culture.
Hawaiin words are pronounced differently too, not easy for a bear to get the hang of. Here are the vowels and how they should be pronounced.
A is pronounced “ah”
E is pronounced “eh”
I is pronounced “ee”
O is pronounced “oh”
U is pronounced “oo”
W in the Hawaiian language sounds like the letter “V” in the English language.
Fred taught me some words too. Us bears are always hungry so I also carried a pupu (snack) with me. Fred gave me a lei (neclace) that you can see me wearing in memory of Fred's albatross friends who never got to soar because they died from being fed litter. Lei can also be the traditional neclace of flowers, shells, or feathers worn and given all through the year for many reasons.
Pia means green turtle, Keiki means kid and Wai means water.
I have had some great experiences and memories of Kauai which I will take with me, made all the more special by having Fred's friendship and his local knowledge. Sadly, I have also learned how fragile the island plants, animals and ocean life are and how much help they need. The Hawaiian people are working really hard to protect their islands and surrounding oceans, but many of these problems are global ones. There is only one world and we are all linked together by one ocean.
Monday, 23 November 2009
Fred and Ron took me to visit a very special place today close to where I learned to surf, the Hanapepe Salt Ponds. Ron explained that this was an important, ancient, salt gathering site. Some Kauai families are allowed to work on the small salt ponds. As the sea water evaporates the salt is left behind and is collected.
Sunday, 22 November 2009
Me, Fred and Ron visited the Hanalei National Wildlife Refuge. It is found in the beautiful Hanalei Valley. The refuge was created to protect five endangered water birds that rely on the Hanalei Valley for nesting and feeding habitat: the koloa (Hawaiian duck), the ‘alae ke‘oke‘o (Hawaiian coot), the ‘alae‘ula (Hawaiian moorhen), the ae‘o (Hawaiian stilt), and the nēnē (Hawaiian goose).
Friday, 20 November 2009
We didn't take any photographs underwater so Ron has allowed me to use this picture below to show you.
People often think of the land and sea as being seperate, but really islands like Kauai are bits of seabed sticking up above the water. The Hawaiian islands were created as the result of volcano. Now, Ron told me, the land is slowly, oh so slowly sinking into the sea as the old volcano subsides, slipping into earth as has other islands to the north and west. Newer islands, like Hawaii and Oahu, are much more recent volcanoes and eruptions still occur on Hawaii, newest of the main islands.
Thursday, 19 November 2009
Fred the monkey and myself were again helping to clean the beach. It was hard work and so we sat down to have a rest. As we sat we talked about the albatross and then Fred gave me a folded piece of paper with a list written on it. Fred told me to read the list and to guess how many of the plastic items might contribute to the death of an albatross.
This is the list.
After having a hard look at the list and thinking about which items might be eaten by albatross chicks I chose the following items for my list.
Shot gun shells
Fred said I had made a good list. Try making a list yourself. How many do you think I got right?
We spoke more about the beautiful albatross and their ocean wanderings. They really are amazing birds. I asked Fred how many on list I had gotten right and he said all of them. I was feeling quite pleased with myself. Then Fred suggested we should get back to cleaning the beach.
(c) Ron Hirshi, Soar Project
These nets were too heavy for a monkey and a bear, so we got help from some locals who carried them away. Although the beaches had lots of litter, Ron told us that this was much better than in others years because the local people had been working really hard to tackle the marine litter problem.
When we had finished we had collected a lot of plastic items. I said to Fred that at least the plastic litter we had collected wouldn't be harming any more albatross or other marine life. Fred asked me to remember the items on he list he had shown me. He said I had done well with my list but actually all the items in his list can contribute to the death of albatross. The adult albatross pick up food items from the surface of the sea to feed their chicks, but they also collect plastic litter without realizing. The items that are found most to have killed albatross chicks are plastic bottle caps and disposable lighters. There are also many unidetified pieces of plastic found inside the dead albatross chicks. And of course, this litter also kills many other marine animals as well. Fred said, this made him very sad.. I agreed.
Fred said that he was glad that I had visited with him and that he hoped I would take his message back to the UK, which I said I would.
The Hawaiin people have a very powerful word we should all remember, "Kuleana" which means "responsibility". We all need to clean our teeth, and plastic bricks and plastic animals are fun to play with but when we don't want them anymore we have Kuleana to make sure they are recycled or disposed of safely.
Aloha, Ed and Fred
Tuesday, 17 November 2009
Today I saw 2 monk seals. They are similar to the common seals we have back home in the UK, but these seals are a bit bigger. Fred’s buddy Ron took a photograph of this monk seal when walking along the beach. It just came out of the water and plonked itself down onto the beach near where Ron was walking,
Maybe you will get a chance to check this out when you travel to Europe!
Thursday, 12 November 2009
Friday, 30 October 2009
As you can see I am still here in Kauai. As well as meeting lots of animals I have also met lots of Hawaiian people. They are very proud of their culture and heritage, but they are very friendly too. I found out that Papahanaumokua is Earth Mother. Wakea is Sky Father. They gave birth to all the Hawaiian islands, beginning with Pihemanu (Midway Atoll). This is where Fred started his journey of exploration and teaching about ocean at the very birthplace of all the islands he loves so much. This is also where his new best buddy, Barack Obama, was born too.
I also meet lots of children (Keiki) and they were very friendly and I learned a lot about how Hawaiian's think about water and the oceans. Water is Wai (Vie) and the word Wai also means wealth, so it is obvious how much value they place on water. It is also very clear that they also see oceans as fun. Water fun means going fishing for papio from the shore, swimming, going out in boats for ahi (yellow fin tuna) and going out surfing. Ahi also means fire in Hawaiian. In olden times Hawaiians went fishing for tuna in outrigger canoes and the line would go out so fast over the side that it would make smoke.
Fred seemed rather amused by the fact that I had never surfed before and he said that you can't visit the Hawaiian Islands without learning to surf.
According to Fred, Barack Obama invented surfing. However I did a bit of reading in a really great book which Fred's sister leant to me. It is THE GIRL'S GUIDE TO SURFING by Andrea McCloud. According to Hawaiian legend, surfing was invented by Pele the volcano goddess and she taught her sister, Hi'iaka. Surfing was not merely a pastime for the leaders of old. This sport served as a training exercise meant to keep chiefs in top physical condition. The arrival of missionaries in the late 18th Century changed many things for the Hawaiian people and their culture and surfing was banned. But not for ever, as surfing is again an important part of the Hawaiian culture. Surfing spread to California, Australia and even to the UK.
So what can I say, when Fred and some children offered to teach me to surf I couldn't say no. It was great fun althought I don't think I was very good. Fred said I did very well. So below is a photo of me and fred surfing with a local keiki (kid) out at Hanapepe on Kaua'i.
I had a great time with locals at the beach and had so much fun, this boy wanted to take me home with him.
In earlier times, Ed and Fred would have gotten to surf on boards made from the spongy wood of the wili wili. but there are few wili wili around. But Fred now refuses to surf on any plastic board and is awaiting his very own traditional Alaia board, being shaped for him by an Australian surfer and board maker.
Later we had good times at the Farmer's market where he met people growing lettuce, big avocado cilantro, and other vegetables. Us bears like our meat and fish, but as omnivores I am also partial to some berries and plants too.
Ed the Bear
Thursday, 29 October 2009
I e-mailed my sister Bella to see if she could find out some information about Kauai for me. This is what she sent me.
I came here to find out more about the albatross and the dangers that they face from plastic litter. Bella tells me its not just the albatross that are threatened. There has been a great loss of native plants and animals, in fact more species are endangered in the Hawaiian islands than in all the other 49 United States combined. It is likely that many species remain to be discovered in the fragile rainforests of the uplands, some people say they may be the most endangered rainforest on earth.
Sunday, 25 October 2009
While Prime Minister Gordon Brown meets to discuss global issues with other countries, Fred the monkey has organised a meeting with representatives from different animal "nations" to find a way that we can protect animal life from death by plastic. Fred told me he has been in contact with president Obama. He said the president wants Fred to talk story with as many animals as possible, getting the unbiased accounts of the earth's environmental problems.
The meeting included myself, Shark from the Open Ocean, Humuhumu from the Big Island, Monk Seal from Kauai, and Fred's buddy Redfooted Booby who snuck back with Fred from Pihemanu out at Papahanaumokuakea, we decided to do this for our friends the Albatrosses.....
As you can see in this photo at our high level meeting at the beach, Fred is wearing still more leg bands from albatrosses who died young due to markers, toothbrushes, toys, bottle caps, lighters, water bottles, and other plastic entering the sea daily by the tons. The result of our meeting, PLASTIC FREE FRIDAYS which is our way of saying no to plastics.
We ask you to avoid buying any drink in plastic bottles, any food wrapped in plastic, and any toy or other thing you might use made from plastic this, and every Friday.
You can find out more about Fred and this declaration of PLASTIC FREE FRIDAYS on his own weblog http://soaronhirschi.blogspot.com/
Check it out and see what you can do to promote plastic free Fridays and find out what else Fred has been up to.
Bye for now
Saturday, 24 October 2009
I arrived safely and I'm now here on Marrowstone Island. No time to rest though, I got straight to work with Fred the Monkey to help clean up Marrowstone Beaches. It was a big job since there was a storm last night and it washed up all kinds of plastic bottles, caps, a broken frisbee, some tires, and even a toothbrush. I told Fred about UK Oceans and the beach clean work I do back home. I explained that often nearly half of the litter is left behind by beach visitors and so if we can stop that we will have halved the problem.
Fred also introduced me to some of the ocean wildlife nearby. It appears that many of the marine animals realise something is not right. We exchanged stories with some surf scooters just down from Alaska. They say that every year they lose more and more of their friends and relatives but they don't know why or where the other birds go to. We talked to ONE western grebe, all we could find. She said her kind is disappearing from earth. Don't know why.
Humans often don't realise that many of us animals can understand each other quite well. I can't talk to all animals though. For example mice are too quite and ants talk to each other using special smells. I watched a crab once doing a strange dance on the sand and clicking his claws, but I don't really know what he was saying either.
I saw some furry little otters swim by and they said they had big trouble because their kelp forest home was disappearing here on the island. We don't have sea otters in the UK. There used to be many river otters in Sussex but now most have disappeared because they were hunted for their fur and in more recent times their habitat has been damaged. The otters didn't hang around for long though because all of a sudden whoosh! 40 or more killer whales appeared. I have never seen a killer whale before, they were so beautiful and graceful. They didn't hang around for long either before they swam off majestically, diving and spouting at the surface.
And then, guess what, Fred gave me a special gift. You may remember me telling you that Fred wore a leg band from an albatross X310. Fred gave me a leg band of my own, from another albatross chick that did not live long enough to fly. Fred asked me to wear the band in memory of the albatross X360 and to remember the Pacific Ocean animals. I hope that the people back in the UK will be as touched by the sad tale as I was when I first heard about the reason why Fred wore a band with the number X360. (see my previous report below). I hope I will get the chance to find out more about these amazing birds and see them doing what they were born to do - fly.
Thanks Fred for such as special day.
Bye for now
Wednesday, 21 October 2009
I am on my way at last, next stop Marrowstone Island in Washington State to visit Fred the Monkey and his mate Ron Hirschi.
This is my route (in red) from the UK to Marrowstone Island in Washington State
Fred has been doing some fantastic work raising awareness of the damage cause by plastic debris to wildlife and the environment. In fact he wears a leg band X310 from an Albatross from Pihemanu in Hawaii. The band was attached to the leg of a beautiful albatross chick by scientists hoping to find out more about the lives of these amazing birds.
Adult albatross fly more than a million miles in their life time but sadly, this albatross chick didn't even survive long enough to fledge. She died from swallowing plastic litter.
Sadder still is that X310 was not the first chick to die from plastic and she will not be the last. I thought we had a big problem with plastic back in the UK, but the death of these birds is a tragedy. Worst still, most of the plastic debris floats to Hawaii from other countries.
I plan to find out more about this terrible problem and learn more about these magnificent albatross. Hopefully Fred will also be able to show me around his beaches too and compare what marine life lives there.
Bye for now
Sunday, 18 October 2009
This is Joy introducing me to all the volunteers who have come to help clean the beach.
As you can see there were a lot of volunteers, (50 in total) a mixed group of helpers of all ages. They worked really hard cleaning up the litter. My legs are very short and it was a bit hard for me to keep up, walking on all those pebbles, so two girls, Eva and Alice carried me for a while in their back pack.
We collected almost 30 bags of litter in total, phew! This is us all having a well deserved break.
Out of all the different types of litter found on the beach the most common material is plastic. This does more damage to wildlife, in and out of the water, than any other type of litter. A million sea birds and 100, 000 marine mammals around the world die each year from being entangled in, or by swallowing, plastic litter. About 30 - 40% of the litter found on the beach is left behind by beach visitors. This means that if we could encourage people to take it home instead of leaving it on the beach this would make a big difference.
Better still, people can take their litter home and recycle it along with the rest of their household rubbish. Removing all the plastic rubbish in the ocean is impossible. We can all help though by making sure no more plastic ends up in the ocean. Recycling can also save oil, as this is used to make new plastic items.
At the Eco Schools conference we took part in all the participants (including ourselves) were given a bag like the one below.
It may be hard to believe but this bag was made from recycled plastic bottles. I hope you all recycle as much of your household rubbish as you can.
Bye for now
Thursday, 15 October 2009
Our stand included information and pictures about my local beach at Shoreham, its rare vegetated shingle habitat and the concerns that sea level rise and other global issues may damage this fascinating beach.
There were also pictures about some of beautiful marine life and the locations I am planning to visit, including my US Tour starting January 2010. There were also pictures showing the damage being done to wildlife. About 1 million sea birds and 100,000 sea mammals die each year when they swallow or become entangled in marine litter. Global warming is causing corals to die and food webs to be disrupted.
There was a lot of enthusiasm and interest from many of the teachers and we have given them the address for this weblog. Hopefully the teachers and children will be able to follow my adventures.
Leave me a message in the comments about the things you are doing to save energy or reduce litter.
Bye for now
Wednesday, 23 September 2009
These natural objects give us fascinating clues to the animals that live just off the beach or further out to sea. Here are some of my favourite objects that I collected from the beach.
There are many egg cases washed ashore. The most common are the whelk egg cases (below)
The dogfish is actually a small type of bottom living shark.
This is what they look like inside the egg case. You can sometimes see them in public aquariums.
Rays, are related to sharks as they both have skeletons made of soft bendy cartilage. This is the same as the bendy parts of your ear and the tip of your nose. Go on, give it a wiggle and see.
Steve once found an egg case after a storm which had a dead baby ray inside.
He hatches them out in a fish tank and then returns them to the sea. When they hatch out they are miniature replicas of the parents.
This is the dried remains of a pipe fish washed up on the beach.
Unknown to the Victorians, another seashell was living on the oyster shells. They are called a slipper limpet (picture below, underside view and top view).