The first two Saturdays of every month, LMC’s Juno Beach Pier staff leads Kid’s Fishing Programs to teach young anglers responsible fishing practices.
During their lessons, the students learn basics such as the various types of fishing rods, how to tie knots, how to bait their hooks, and how to cast from the pier. Especially important for us, are the conservation measures instilled. After a brief lesson in the classroom, we walk the half-mile from the center to the pier collecting trash accumulated in the wrack line along the way. Our students are always amazed by the amount of trash they can gather in a short, 15-minute walk. Once at the pier, staff focus on habitat protection, sea turtle rescue, the proper way to remove hooks and release fish, and the importance of recycling monofilament fishing line.
The last couple of lessons, our newest responsible anglers haven’t had much luck at the pier. Thankfully, the regulars, some of whom fish on the Juno Beach Pier every single day, are happy to help inspire the next generation. They can tell – by the wind, the weather, the season – what species of fish will be running and exactly where to catch them. If they notice a fishing class on the pier, they call us over when they have a fish on the line. They help the students reel the fish in, remove the hook, and allow the children to take a few quick pictures proudly holding ‘their’ catch. The kids listen so carefully when the pier’s regulars are teaching them – they know there is a lot to learn. At the end of the lesson, we thank the anglers for their help and leave them to their craft.
It is this kind of cooperation, passing on knowledge and traditions from seasoned anglers to kids who have never picked up a fishing rod before, that allows us to build relationships with the fishing community. We rely on them to keep the pier environment clean and healthy and to help us rescue incidentally hooked sea turtles when necessary. They know the environment best, they observe it every day, and we are grateful to have them on our team.
To register your child for a Kid’s Fishing Program or to book a Private Fishing Lesson (for children or adults), please contact Kate at firstname.lastname@example.org.
At Loggerhead Marinelife Center, we host and support several cleanup activities. Some are quarterly, some are monthly, some happen more frequently than that. These include: Blue Friends Society Beach Cleanups, Deep Blue Yoga classes, Kid’s Fishing Programs, Jupiter Waves Beach Cleanups, Juno Beach Civic Association Beach Cleanups, underwater cleanups at the Juno Beach Pier, private groups, and special event cleanups. Unfortunately, there is no shortage of garbage on the coast.
While we are sometimes discouraged by the amount of trash we find, ultimately, it is our driving motivation for planning more cleanups and working harder. In a perfect world, we would no longer have to clean the beaches, but since we do, we are grateful that we have the platform, and the help, to do it.
Following each cleanup, LMC’s Sorting Team weighs each bag and empties the collected debris onto a tarp. The trash is sorted into several specific categories, counted piece-for-piece, and recorded into our database. Our hope is that by studying the trends in the amount and types of pollution that wash onto our beaches over time, we will be able to better understand where the trash is coming from and therefore, better prevent it from being there in the first place.
We find all kinds of things in the trash we sort: bottles, straws, toothbrushes, toys, wrappers, balloons, clothing. But, the vast majority, no matter the time of year or location, is plastic. Plastic does not biodegrade but instead photodegrades. The sun breaks the plastic down into smaller and smaller pieces over time. Some of these microplastics sink and some float enabling distribution throughout the water column. They collect in ocean gyres and are all too often consumed by marine species from the bottom of the food chain to the top and every step in between. Studies are currently being conducted on the human health repercussions of the plastic in our ocean. The long-term effects are still unclear though recently, a study on cultured oysters being sold for human consumption found that one dietary serving (six oysters), would contain approximately 50 plastic particles (Van Cauwenberghe and Janssen 2014).
Cleanups are an important immediate solution that can greatly benefit marine life. But, cleaning up a mess that is still flowing into the ocean every day won’t get us anywhere fast. We can all take part in reversing this problem. Take a look at any plastic item you use just once and throw away. Can you replace it with a reusable version? Share your ideas with us, we would love to hear from you!
Join us for upcoming cleanups:
- Deep Blue Yoga class and cleanup: 2/11 at 7:30 AM
- Kid’s Fishing Program: 2/11 at 8:00 AM
- Jupiter Waves Beach Cleanup at Coral Cove: 2/12 at 9:00 AM
- Blue Friends Society Beach Cleanup: 2/18 at 8:30 AM
Please contact Demi at email@example.com for information on any of the above.
Van Cauwenberghe L, Janssen CR (2014) Microplastics in bivalves cultured for human consumption. Environ Pollut 193:65–70.
If you’ve gone shopping for accessories such as sunglasses or hair clips in the last 40 years, you are probably familiar with the ‘tortoiseshell’ pattern – mottled black and brown markings. The original tortoiseshell products were made from the shells of hawksbill sea turtles. Poaching and commercial exploitation of the turtles were among the most significant factors in the decline of the hawksbill population.
Hawksbills, named for their ‘raptor-like’ beak, are well known for the distinct colors and patterns on their shells. Unlike other sea turtle species, their carapace (top shell) is comprised of overlapping scutes (keratinized scales) which historically, have been used to make jewelry, jewelry boxes, combs, and other small, decorative items. Although the international trade of hawksbill items was halted in 1973 due to CITES, the products are still being sold in markets across Latin America and the Caribbean today.
The Too Rare To Wear campaign was developed to promote education and help eliminate the demand for turtle shell products by bringing conservation organizations, media partners, and tour operators together. Loggerhead Marinelife Center is proud to join this coalition of conservation partners to share the educational message and assist with the global protection of hawksbill turtles.
For more information on the project, check out this video.
Take an active role in conservation by signing and sharing the pledge.
Please contact LMC’s Conservation Department with any questions.
Last week, the Executive Director of the Balloon Council wrote an opinion article for the Palm Beach Daily News directed at LMC’s Balloon Ban Initiative. The article suggests that the initiative is misguided and that balloons do not pose a real threat to sea turtles and other wildlife. Our response, outlined below, will be published this weekend.
Mylar balloons are made from plastic and unfortunately, do not biodegrade. Although latex (whether natural or partially synthetic due to added artificial dyes or chemicals) does eventually degrade, it remains intact long enough to impact wildlife – sometimes up to six months, as stated by the Balloon and Party Professional Association.
Although balloons did not make the 2015 Ocean Conservancy International Cleanup’s top 10 list of most common items found, balloons are in the top 20 list, and rank third in deadliest ocean trash, according to a 2015 study by the Ocean Conservancy and the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO). In 2016, during Palm Beach County’s sea turtle nesting season, March 1 – October 31, Loggerhead Marinelife Center staff biologists collected 988 balloons along the 9.5 miles of beach we monitor for sea turtle nesting activity. Balloons and balloon ribbons are brought in from the beach following each cleanup we host.
We are very fortunate to work on one of the most densely utilized sea turtle nesting beaches in the world. Each year, LMC’s hospital staff treats hundreds of patients, many of whom have been impacted by marine pollution, such as balloons. When deflated, balloons resemble jellyfish, a common prey item for sea turtles and other marine species.
“If sea turtles or other animals ingest a balloon or balloon fragment, it can disrupt and harm the digestive system, and if untreated, can cause them to starve to death,” said Dr. Charles Manire, DVM, LMC’s Director of Research & Rehabilitation. “It is also possible for animals to become entangled in balloon strings, which can inhibit their ability to move or eat properly, or even strangle them.”
It is not the intention of Loggerhead Marinelife Center, or any environmental organization mentioned above, to cause economic suffering to families who rely on the sale of balloons. We know that the industry will not change overnight but believe the time to investigate alternative solutions and shift the industry to aid in the protection of the marine environment, upon which we all depend, is long overdue.
If you have any questions on the Balloon Ban or any other conservation initiative, please contact LMC’s Conservation Department.
Last year, in an effort to reduce waste on campus and increase awareness of responsible practices, we established LMC’s Campus Sustainability Initiative. You may have noticed a few changes around the center and we are excited for much more progress in 2017.
2016 accomplishments include:
- Providing reusable dishes for staff and volunteers. There are now plates, glasses, and forks in the Volunteer Lounge for everyone’s use. We are encouraging staff and volunteers to avoid bringing single-use plastics to campus.
- LMC staff and volunteers have made a commitment to only use reusable water bottles on campus and in the Turtle Yard. An LMC reusable water bottle is now available as part of the volunteer uniform.
- Eliminating single-use plastic water bottles from turtle releases and campus events.
- Composting on campus.
- Unsubscribing from catalogs sent to LMC to reduce paper waste.
- Purchasing wash cloths for the Juno Beach Pier Bait House to reduce the use of paper towels.
- Updating the LMC Facility Rental Guide to include sustainability procedures for interested guests.
- Reducing paperwork for Jr. Marine Biologist Summer Camp students and parents.
- Planting the LMC Green Turtle Vegetable Garden. Our garden, located off campus, includes varieties of lettuce and green peppers. The garden was planted in November and the first harvest is just weeks away – an update on the garden will be coming soon!
- Changing the plush sea turtles provided with LMC adoptions from turtles filled with plastic microbeads to turtles filled with non-plastic stuffing.
- Eliminating individually wrapped candy from Turtleween and recycling over 60 pounds of Halloween candy wrappers from 20 local elementary schools. The wrappers were sent to TerraCycle and will be repurposed into new items such as school and office supplies.
- Providing reusable tablecloths at the LMC Volunteer Holiday Party.
- Improving LMC retail sustainability by reducing products with excess packaging and selling reusable lunch boxes and containers.
- Eliminating paper usage from Jr. Vet Labs and Birthday Parties on campus.
- Replacing the campus water fountain with a water bottle refill station. So far, it has saved over 50,000 single-use water bottles.
- Installing a bike rack on campus to encourage alternative transportation.
- Initiating an electronic records system for the sea turtle patients in the hospital.
- Saving digital press clippings rather than paper copies.
- Eliminating paper forms for staff expenses.
Below are a few tips for steps you can take both on campus and off to live more sustainably every day, along with a couple of companies we like.
- Bring your reusable water bottle
- Ride a bicycle or carpool to LMC
- Remember to turn off the lights when you leave the restroom
- Ask LMC’s volunteers how you can help protect sea turtles and the marine environment by making small changes at home
- Check out the new sustainable items in the LMC Gift Store
At Home & Work
- Replace plastic food storage bags with reusable containers
- Buy a lunch box
- Carry a reusable coffee thermos
- Unsubscribe from unwanted catalogs
- Replace paper towels with wash cloths
- Limit water and energy usage
- Replace paper copies with digital files
- Carry bamboo or other reusable utensils to eliminate the need for plastic ones
- Carry a reusable take-out container to eliminate the need for polystyrene ones
- Always bring your reusable grocery bags to the store
We are lucky to have a platform that allows us to speak to hundreds of thousands of guests every year. We are striving to make Loggerhead Marinelife Center an example for our community and we can only do so with the help of our dedicated staff, volunteers, and visitors. Thank you for your efforts to share conservation messages and improve the health of our environment. We can only make a change together, it’s up to all of us.
If you have any questions, please email Demi at firstname.lastname@example.org.
“Who’s your favorite sea turtle patient?” A small child probed me for an answer while I was taking photos in the outdoor sea turtle hospital. I tried to politely avoid playing favorites, but the young girl rolled her eyes in demand of an answer. In an attempt to reassure me that it’s okay to have a favorite, she blurted out “Squash is my favorite. So, who is yours?” Although, I usually like to tell young impressionable conservationists that it’s impossible for me to select a favorite, I caved revealing that I have a special connection to Balboa.
Last week, I joined Ocean Conservancy (OC) in Hong Kong for their International Coastal Cleanup (ICC) Asia-Pacific Regional Meeting. The global event, hosted by The Hong Kong Cleanup and Ecozine, was held to bring ICC leaders and coordinators together to achieve the following goals:
- Celebrate 30 years of cleanups
- Share best practices from around the region
- Inspire greater coordination and communication between the regional network of cleanup partners
- Highlight innovative projects within the network
In celebration of 30 years of cleanups, we began the meeting by participating in a local beach cleanup. We hopped onto a bus and headed to the site, Stanley Beach. Once outside the city, the views of the coastline were stunning – in fact, when we arrived at the cleanup site, it was hard to imagine what awaited us on the beach below. We made our way down a steep, rocky path to the beach to find the shoreline covered in debris – in some spots, the debris was waist high. Although overwhelming at first, we split into teams and began to bag up the trash (making sure that we recorded all of our data in OC’s Clean Swell app). After about 1.5 hours, we managed to collect over 60 large trash bags of debris.
Hong Kong, an autonomous territory of China, is one of the world’s most significant financial centers. It’s also one of the world’s most densely populated states or territories with a population of over 7 million people in 427 square miles; however, just a small portion of that area is developed.
In addition, Hong Kong’s waste output every day is substantial:
- Plastic bottles – > 1,368,000
- Plastic bags – > 1,000 tons
- Food waste – >3,200 tons
The challenges we witnessed in Hong Kong are far too common in other areas across the Pacific. Twenty-three representatives and leaders from across the region joined Ocean Conservancy staff members at the conference for three days of workshops, presentations, and panel discussions focused on sharing best practices and identifying long-term solutions.
Workshops included small group breakout sessions focused on how we can increase our global impact and plans to improve regional communication in the future. Attendees presented on best practices and local accomplishments. Topics included Tools for Increased Impact, Effective Communications and Digital Strategies, Cleanup Innovation, Educational Programs, Putting Zero Waste into Practice, and Network Expertise.
I joined Eben Schwartz, California Coastal Commission and Sivasothi N., University of Singapore for a panel discussion on “Turning Data into Policy,” where I shared experiences from our recently launched Balloon Ban program.
It was a pleasure to meet all of the other representatives at the meeting and learn about their incredible efforts to protect our oceans. I left Hong Kong truly inspired to do more with our marine debris efforts. I’m looking forward to follow-up discussions over the next few weeks to discuss potential new collaborations.
On Halloween day, we traveled north to Cocoa Beach to bring the Responsible Pier Initiative to its newest location. We had been working with our partners at the Brevard Zoo to organize a workshop for staff from the Sea Turtle Healing Center, the Sea Turtle Preservation Society, the Florida Wildlife Hospital and Sanctuary, and the Cocoa Beach Pier and everything finally aligned on October 31.
The RPI has been steadily growing since its implementation on the Juno Beach Pier in 2013. To date, the initiative is responsible for the rescue of over 200 sea turtles and the removal of more than 8,000 pounds of marine debris. With the addition of the Cocoa Beach Pier, we are proud to say the RPI now has 50 participating locations!
The workshop attendees were eager to learn more about the initiative and practice using the rescue net. We even convinced our intern, Taylor, to be our ‘sea turtle.’* After the training’s conclusion, everyone stayed on the pier to ask questions, share stories of sea turtle rescue and rehabilitation, and celebrate the accomplishment together. Cocoa Beach Pier is not only the RPI’s 50th pier, it is also Brevard County’s first.
With each new addition, we are learning more about how we can best work with the fishing community to protect sea turtles and keep the marine environment clean. We are continually inspired by the efforts put forth by our partners and the anglers fishing on the piers every day. In order to really protect the marine environment, we need help from the people who know it best.
We want to thank the anglers who watch the piers for us, who fish responsibly, report sea turtle interactions, recycle their monofilament line, clean up debris, and serve as examples for the next generation. In honor of reaching this 50-piers-milestone, LMC will offer a free day of fishing this Sunday, November 6, to the first 50 anglers at the Juno Beach Pier – where the RPI got its start.
We are so proud of the work we’ve been able to accomplish together. 50 fishing piers is just the beginning!
*No interns were harmed in the rescue demonstrations.
Over the past few years at LMC, we’ve been working to expand our conservation efforts beyond Juno Beach. We’ve established many new programs and collaborations, but noticed that many organizations were in need of financial and on-the-ground support, which led to the development of S.W.I.M.
S.W.I.M., Serving the World’s Imperiled Marine Life, is a destination, eco-tour program that provides on-the-ground support to conservation organizations around the globe. We launched the program this year in three locations: Juno Beach, Florida, Maui, Hawaii, and Padre Ramos, Nicaragua.
Hannah and I began our journey to Padre Ramos on Wednesday morning; we had about 5 hours of flying time from Miami with a quick layover in Panama City. We arrived into Managua, the capital city of Nicaragua, around midday. Then, we had a 5-hour drive to the project site in Padre Ramos (located in the province of Chinandega in the NW corner of the country). We picked up a 4X4 truck, threw our gear in the back and were on our way.
The drive was beautiful; we passed through fields of peanuts and sugar cane and several small local villages, all with amazing mountainous views. About 2 hours into our drive, we met up with David Melero, one of the Project Managers we will be working with over the next ten days. David joined us to lead the way for the remainder of the trip, as the last 2.5 hours of the drive would be along dirt roads, through a primarily undeveloped region of the country.
In Padre Ramos, we’re working with ICAPO (Iniciativa Carey Del Pacifico Oriental), a hawksbill sea turtle conservation nonprofit collaborating with a network of like-minded organizations in Pacific coastal regions of the Americas. David is the Project Manager for the site in Nicaragua as well as another location in El Salvador.
We arrived at the project site after dark that evening. The “field station” is a rustic, colonial-style home located on the beach of the estuary. We immediately felt at home. The house is set up family style, with large farm tables, hammocks overlooking the water, and sea turtle art spread throughout.
David introduced us to the crew (Aida, Daniella, and Danny) and the house pets, including a dog named “Chaparro,” two chickens, “Claro Que Si” and “Como no,” and a duck (who thinks he’s a chicken) named “Mogollon.” We were given a quick tour of the house and shown our rooms.
We woke up early the following morning, excited to start working. Over breakfast, David and Aida spent some time explaining the different aspects of the project, how they involve the community, and what we will work on during our time here.
It’s inspiring to learn how ICAPO has been able to transform a community that previously poached sea turtle eggs into a conservation success story. They provide jobs for local people to assist in various aspects of the program and incentives for additional community involvement (I’ll write another post on the incentive program soon).
So far we’ve had the opportunity to visit project sites, meet people working on the project, and witness the strong sense of pride and conservation engagement from the local community. Our guests arrive into Managua tonight. We have a great week planned and are looking forward to assisting with local conservation efforts.
Stay tuned for more updates throughout the week!