Saturday, May 12, 2012

great news for our environment

Last Monday, Captain Don addressed Ft Pierce City Commission. First to praise the Mayor for leading the charge for our winning the Mayor's Challenge for Water Conservation. But also to point out that at a recent dive along the city seawall over 900 pieces of plastic serviceware were collected. This is significant and he felt it needed to be brought to their attention. Redevelopment Director Jon Ward was sent an Email covering the same information and asking why, for a small city that had just won such an honor for water conservation, did we not require our vendors to use biodegradable serviceware. I have just been informed that on Monday, May 21, 2012, Ft Pierce City Commission will address an ordinance submitted by Director Jon Ward, requiring biodegradable serviceware to be used at all outside events here. I am proud of my City. I am excited such an action is being considered and I had some impact on this. I am proud of all my divers who have assisted over the last 11 years to make the concerns of marine debris in the forefront of local concerns. I am proud because I am pretty sure this ordinance will pass. Wow. WTG Mr Ward. WTG City Commission. And then today: I just ran into County Commission Chairperson, Chris Craft and mentioned to him about this great news on serviceware and he asked me to forward the language of the ordinance and he would present it to the county commissioners this monday for passage. OMG. This is so great.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012


On Friday, March 18th, Marine Cleanup Initiative, Inc’s Operation Director Captain Donald Voss loaded 16 divers and 5 bubble watchers onto a Midnight Sun bus sponsored by Open Water Products President Jack Hudson, headed to Tavernier, Florida to the Coral Restoration Foundation.

In December, Captain Don attended a National Geographic Seminar regarding the Blue Ocean Project. Local Scientist Dr Brain Lapointe and others spoke on the damage done to Florida’s coral in the 1990’after the waters and bloom coming from the Snake River Slough engulfed the Keys and killed 90% of the coral. Andy Northrop of Coral Restoration Foundation was next and spoke of the coral growth and successes this foundation was having in extending new coral areas however, they did not have enough help to complete their task before their grant ran out in July 2011. Captain Voss pulled Andy aside and offered to bring a bus of divers down if that might be of any assistance. Thus this partnership was formed.

Marine Cleanup Initiative, Inc then set about to find sponsors and volunteers who might give of their own to help our reefs and plant some coral. Jack Hudson, a local Ft Pierce man who invents safety products, stepped forward and asked if he could provide the bus and attend the event. The Subway Shop on Seaway Drive provided food for the trip on the way down. Harbor Branch provided water for the trip and dive. Otherwise, divers paid their own way to attend this vital planting.

As Ft Pierce’s Re-Development Director, Jon Ward works with local groups to more extensively establish an Ecotourism Board and Industry, MCII had divers from Juno Beach’s Loggerhead Marine Life Center, as well as from Sebastian, Cleveland, San Francisco as well as Ft Pierce, all coming here to travel and save Florida’s precious reefs.

Since December, Andy was replaced at CRF by Kevin Gaines, a Vero Beach resident and another passionate supporter of our oceans. Along with Dan Dawson of Horizon Dive Center and the Key West Inn of Tavernier, the trip was arranged and it was fantastic. There was not a single hitch in this rapidly staged event as every one of these organizations is totally professional.
Rooms were around $120.00. Diving was $56.00 per dive. Entrance to the Coral Garden is $25 per day. The Bus was $100 per person.

Saturday morning all volunteers attended a lecture and briefing session at the Holiday Inn, a short distance down the road, where the volunteers were educated with the information Captain Don witnessed in December. The mid-morning session was a hands-on training class held out of water yet simulating the cleaning process and layout of the garden. The afternoon was filled with a two tank dive to prepare coral “plugs” for transplanting the next day.

The growing process has evolved over the years and as a result of differing conditions such as the cold spells of the last few years. Coral is generally very sensitive to temperature and water clarity issues and many baby corals died from those cold spells. Also, as processes changed, different shapes and techniques were employed. Volunteers absorbed all in preparation for the event.

Captain Don had a two sided reason for heading to Tavernier. Habitat Restoration is a large part of the NOAA grant MCII received and it is important to learn any and every technique out there. Training and certification for Marine Debris and Habitat Restoration are a large part of the grant process; as is the education of divers and citizens.

And then the second side… and this is where Ft Pierce comes into play. It is widely believed that coral formations do not traditionally exist north of Jupiter, Florida due to water temperature, yet MCII volunteers, some lifelong local diver’s state they know of stands of coral in our area. Kevin Gaines became very excited to learn this and asked that we document this coral as to depth, species report this back to CRF. If our coral matches, this might be a way to strengthen the gene pool with coral more resistant to cold waters.

Sunday, another class and training session was held to teach the actual process for transplanting the coral from the garden to Molasses Reef to re-establish the coral there.

Rows of coral babies awaiting trans- CRF has developed a line hanging
planting using the original solid base system as used in black pearl farms to
system. allow better circulation of nutrients.

A baby planted on the reef with ID tag next Here, now underwater, the same babies are
to it. waiting to be planted.

Once transported, a two part epoxy is used to secure the corals, three different genotypes grouped together, to use as a monitoring and research process. A plaque ID’ing this information is places by each genotype.

Although the work was labor intense and the conditions were less than stellar, MCII divers worked in four 4-person teams to place and secure all the babies and then take a few minutes to enjoy the reef and the life there. The knowledge learned will return with us to Ft Pierce for promotion of our marine life.

The entire trip and demand to attend the next trip has caused MCII to start looking for additional sponsors and a good date that works for CRF. MCII will start their spring operations soon working to remove 17 derelict vessels as well as fulfill obligations to South Florida Water Management District’s Snook Plate Grant Program who is funding lagoon cleanup from Ft Pierce City Marine to St Lucie Inlet and the on-going NOAA grant who continues to fund the cleanup from Sebastian Inlet to Ft Pierce City Marina. Without these funds, MCII would not be able to continue this valuable work of debris removal and habitat restoration.

Water Warriors from Open Water Products, Loggerhead Marine Life Center, Coral Restoration Foundation and Marine Cleanup Initiative, Inc. after the final day of our coral planting adventure.

I would be untruthful, if I did not take a few seconds and talk about the marine life and their interest in our efforts. On the first dive, fish seemed to stay at arms length. There are many cleaning stations in this garden. A cleaning station is a place where shrimps and small fish assist larger fish. Cleaning station fish, which have a symbiotic relationship with larger fish, climb onto large fish and eat parasites from their mouths and body. This must be a very relaxing process, because the larger fish appear to be most docile during these times. It is unique that there appears to be no fear or cheating when the shrimps and crabs at these stations crawl in and out of their mouths and all over these fish.

When first we appeared, the fish of all sizes were nervous and stayed at great distance. As we cleaned and worked and moved into our second tank dive, the nervous period ended. I had small shrimps crawl onto my arm and wait there while I cleaned the coral groves. Small wrasses and grunts would swim in and around my hands snatching up any food matter available to help in the effort. Our experiences on the reef the next day were similar. As soon as coral was secured, tiny tropicals came out nowhere to investigate and see if they had found a new home. We had turtles and rays and hog snappers cruise on through the area checking out what was happening. Men using picks and chisels must be rare underwater. It was all just too overwhelming.

None of this could have been possible without the help of the volunteers and the kind infusions of our sponsors. Thanks to everyone and especially to Coral Restoration Foundation for the great work they are doing. Our next trip will be mid-May, so call and save a space for this unique experience.

Follow our upcoming events and cleanup schedule at: www.MarineCleanupInitiativeInc.Org

Next Cleanup Dives: Friday April 8, 2011 - dive at Sebastian Inlet North side for Turtle Fest on April 9 – 3:00pm at Loggerhead Marine Life Center.

Saturday May 14, 2011- Nearshore Hardbottom with Coastal Tech cleanup from Sebastian 9am – 3pm, weather permitting.

Tuesday June 7, 2011 – 4pm – dive at South Causeway Bridge Park for
World Ocean Day at Loggerhead MarineLife Center 10am -3pm.

Saturday July 16, 2011 – Noon – Ft Pierce and Sebastian Inlet Maintenance Cleanup Dive

We have May 6-8 or May 20-22 available for another Tavernier trip if space is available.

REMEMBER TO MARK YOUR CALENDARS -WETFEST is June 25, 2011 at Museum Pointe in South Causeway Park from 11-9. For information: www.MarineCleanupInitiativeInc.Org/Wetfest.html

Captain Don
Operations Director
Marine Cleanup Initiative, Inc.

Marine Cleanup Initiative PSA-1

build up of plastics has grown

Science & Environment In association with HomeUS & CanadaLatin AmericaUKAfricaAsiaEuropeMid-EastBusinessHealthSci/EnvironmentTechEntertainmentVideo Advertisement 8 May 2012 Last updated at 21:01 ET Share this pageEmail Print Share this page 1.6KShareFacebookTwitter. Big rise in North Pacific plastic waste By Jonathan Amos Science correspondent, BBC News The Scripps team trawled the surface of the ocean for floating debris Continue reading the main story Related StoriesWhat should be done about plastic bags?Can oceans be cleared of plastic?Voyage confirms plastic pollution The quantity of small plastic fragments floating in the north-east Pacific Ocean has increased a hundred fold over the past 40 years. Scientists from the Scripps Institution of Oceanography documented the big rise when they trawled the waters off California. They were able to compare their plastic "catch" with previous data for the region. The group reports its findings in the journal Biology Letters. "We did not expect to find this," says Scripps researcher Miriam Goldstein. "When you go out into the North Pacific, what you find can be highly variable. So, to find such a clear pattern and such a large increase was very surprising," she told BBC News. All the plastic discarded into the ocean that does not sink will eventually break down. Sunlight and the action of the waves will degrade and shred the material over time into pieces the size of a fingernail, or smaller. An obvious concern is that this micro-material could be ingested by marine organisms, but the Scripps team has noted another, perhaps unexpected, consequence. The fragments make it easier for the marine insect Halobates sericeus to lay its eggs out over the ocean. These "sea skaters" or "water striders" - relatives of pond water skaters - need a platform for the task. Normally, this might be seabird feathers, tar lumps or even pieces of pumice rock. But it is clear from the trawl results that H. sericeus has been greatly aided by the numerous plastic surfaces now available to it in the Pacific. The fragments are tiny - about 5mm in diameter, or less The team found a strong association between the presence of Halobates and the micro-plastic in a way that was just not evident in the data from 40 years ago. Ms Goldstein explained: "We thought there might be fewer Halobates if there's more plastic - that there might be some sort of toxic effect. But, actually, we found the opposite. In the areas that had the most plastic, we found the most Halobates. "So, they're obviously congregating around this plastic, laying their eggs on it, and hatching out from it. For Halobates, all this plastic has worked out well for them." The micro-plastic has been a boon to one marine invertebrate - Halobates sericeus Ms Goldstein and colleagues gathered their information on the abundance of micro-plastic during the Scripps Environmental Accumulation of Plastic Expedition (Seaplex) off California in 2009. They then compared their data with those from other scientific cruises, including archived records stretching back to the early 1970s. Plastic waste in the North Pacific is an ongoing concern. The natural circulation of water - the North Pacific Gyre - tends to retain the debris in reasonably discrete, long-lived collections, which have popularly become known as "garbage patches". In the north-eastern Pacific, one of these concentrations is seen in waters between Hawaii and California. This Scripps study follows another report by colleagues at the institution that showed 9% of the fish collected during the same Seaplex voyage had plastic waste in their stomachs. That investigation, published in Marine Ecology Progress Series, estimated the fish at intermediate ocean depths in the North Pacific Ocean could be ingesting plastic at a rate of roughly 12,000 to 24,000 tonnes per year. Crabs, barnacles, sea anemones and hydroids make a home on a piece of discarded rope Toxicity is the issue most often raised in relation to this type of pollution, but Ms Goldstein and colleagues say broader ecosystem effects also need to be studied. The abundance of ocean debris will influence the success, or otherwise, of "rafting communities" - those species that are specifically adapted to life on or around objects floating in the water. Larger creatures would include barnacles and crabs, and even fish that like to live under some kind of cover, but large-scale change would likely touch even the smallest organisms. "The study raises an important issue, which is the addition of hard surfaces to the open ocean," says Ms Goldstein. "In the North Pacific, for example, there's no floating seaweed like there is in the Sargasso Sea in the North Atlantic. And we know that the animals, the plants and the microbes that live on hard surfaces are different to the ones that live floating around in the water. "So, what plastic has done is add hundreds of millions of hard surfaces to the Pacific Ocean. That's quite a profound change." Ms Goldstein's co-authors were Marci Rosenberg, a student at the University of California Los Angeles, and Scripps research biologist emeritus Lanna Cheng