Coastal Connection

On our lake coast, on the North Shore of Chicago, connections are being made between a local shop in our beach town and local organizations for the greater good of our water. 600NS is a new clothing line (hats, bags, shirts + stickers!) and is tribute to our Third Coast. For every purchase, $1 is donated to Surfrider Foundation, a national group with a local Chicago chapter, dedicated to protecting beaches and coasts across the country. The t-shirts are soft, the stickers are cool, and the beaches benefit, what’s not to love?!

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Share Wilmette – 600NS

Surfrider Foundation

Knot, Knot, Not and Naut

Knot– Rope patterns that sailors use to tie up their boat (and other things!). There are many forms of knots, including (but not limited to) bowline, figure eight, half hitch, clove hitch, square knot….

Knot– Used as a measure of windspeed out on the open water, traveling at one Knot is equal to one nautical mile per hour

Not– knots use nautical miles and are not the same as miles on land (also not the same as kilometers).

One nautical mile= 1.85 kilometers = 1.15 miles

Nautical mile– based on the circumference of the earth, based on the perfectly circular nature of the earth at the equator. It is defined as “one minute of latitude” if one were to cut the earth at the equator and divide it up based on degrees and minutes. Nautical miles are used on land and over sea, and used especially when sailing.

Happy World Oceans Day

Happy June 8th! World Oceans Day was started to honor and raise awareness of the oceans, and our dependency on the health of the oceans. The oceans help to generate the oxygen we breathe, they feed us, regulate the climate, and offer us much more. The oceans need protection, and World Oceans Day is a great step towards conservation. To quote Arthur Clarke, “How inappropriate to call this planet Earth when it is quite clearly Ocean”. The ocean makes up the majority of our planet, and it is just as important as it is deep and immense.

To celebrate the day, I saw the film Blue last night, as part of the March for the Oceans event series. It was a powerful film, documenting the harmful effects of overfishing, plastic pollution, coral bleaching, and discarded fishing nets. Through imagery, the film shows the issues about which everyone is talking, making a visual connection to what we’ve heard. It is heartbreaking to see how sea animals are affected by human actions, and this film displays firsthand the underwater damage that is a result of what we do on land. With stories from several experienced water-goers, Blue is enthralling and attention grabbing, and over before you know it. When you have a spare 76 minutes, I highly recommend taking a look!

Link to Information about Blue

Chesapeake Bay – Two weeks in photos

March for the Oceans

Regardless of your location, you can take action to protect the oceans! A healthy ocean means a healthy society. Phytoplankton is a microscopic ocean-dwelling algae that uses sunlight and carbon dioxide to produce energy and oxygen. They produce more than 50% of the oxygen that makes up our atmosphere, which is more than the amount of oxygen produced by all the rainforests combined. Keeping the phytoplankton happy and healthy has a positive effect for the rest of the world. For those of you in the Chicagoland area, you can support the oceans by attending and participating in these events, starting June 8th. Those who live a bit farther away, check out the Inland Ocean Coalition website (link below) to find out if there is a chapter near you!

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Learn more about the Inland Ocean Coalition

Seagrass Spree

This past week, as well as next week, I have been in Oyster, VA (a new East Coast adventure!), in a two-week field study course about the Marine Biology of the Chesapeake Bay. Today, we volunteered with The Nature Conservancy to collect seagrass (eelgrass, to be precise, known scientifically as Zostera marina). Since 1999, when this part of the Chesapeake Bay was barren and completely void of seagrass, the population has been revitalized. Now, the majority of the seafloor is covered with the leafy grasses flowing in the waves, drifting with the ebb and flow of the tides.

The Nature Conservancy Website

Of the collected seagrass, about half of the leaves contain seeds. Upon returning to the mainland, the seagrass was put in a large tank with seawater, sourced directly from the bay, where it will be kept for about a week until the seeds fall. These seeds, once mature, will be sown in the northwest parts of the bay where recolonization has not been as successful.

There are natural causes of seagrass populations dying off, and humans are also playing an integral role, positive in some cases and negative in others, towards their recovery. The original decline in population was due to the combination of a quickly spreading disease (labyrinthula) and the intensity of hurricanes around the same time. It is now the interference of human action that hinders the recolonization of seagrass in the northwest parts of the bay.

Although this southern part of the Chesapeake, where we collected and where I am studying, is doing very well in terms of restoration and increasing biodiversity, the northwestern areas are not doing as well. One cause of this slow regrowth is due to nutrient runoff from nearby farms, which increases the amount of algae in the area, reducing the sunlight available to seagrasses. With less sunlight to use for photosynthesis, these aquatic plants aren’t thriving as they could be, or should be. This affects the variety of other sea animals that can live and thrive in the area, as well as oxygen production in the water, which can then migrate out into our atmosphere. It may seem like a simple seagrass problem, and there are also implications beyond the presence of seagrass. The existence and prospering of seagrasses is vital to the health of the Chesapeake Bay.

As a group, we spent two hours floating above seagrass beds, swimming along and collecting the leaves. I loved the experience, any occasion to throw on a wetsuit and float in the ocean for hours is a treat for me. However, it is the hope that eventually, the bay will be healthy enough for the seagrass to thrive and spread on its own.

Link to article about seagrass collection

Film Review: Fishpeople

Fishpeople had been on my (long) list of movies to watch for months before I actually saw it. A quick 48 minutes, this film is packed with the dynamic beauty of the ocean, and interesting water people who interact with the sea in various meaningful ways. For some, the ocean is a source of food. For many, it is therapeutic, the calm of waves washing over them the same way they wash over the beach. Others consider it a play space, surfing their days away. These are not mutually exclusive, many fishpeople consider the ocean to envelop all of these things, plus more.

This documentary examines the lifestyle of six individuals and how the ocean has shaped their life. It embodies the communities that exist within and around the ocean, and how everyone has a unique experience with the sea. The cinematography is beautiful, and the description of each person is concise yet fully relates their story. From Australia to the West Coast, this documentary covers the stories of Dave Rastovich, Kimi Werner, Ray Collins, Lynne Cox, Matahi Drollet and Eddie Donnellan and their sea-related ways of life.

Repost: Alliance for the Great Lakes

Today is a great day to save the Lakes! Donate now to double your impact and protect the inland beaches!

Happy Mother’s Day!

Daily Dose of Wave Beauty

Happy Mother’s Day to all the amazing moms out there, and Happy Mother’s Day to Mother Earth! To commemorate the holiday, here are 200 photos of waves celebrating the beauty and power of the oceans. The four oceans of the world are home to millions of species of animals, known and unknown, seen and hidden, mothers, daughters, sons, fathers. Appreciating the oceans, for their beautiful waters and fiery waves, is essential to the wellbeing of the earth.  Mother nature has taken care of us, just like each of our own mothers, and today is a day to appreciate all moms everywhere.