Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Are You Blue? Ten Things You Can Do to Help Heal Our Oceans ~     Clark Little photo credit

Brenda Peterson

Are You Blue? Ten Things You Can Do to Help Heal 
Our Oceans ~ Huffington Post

"Shocking" new scientific reports of the self-destructive abuse of our blue planet's oceans are enough to make anyone feel blue. Not just those of us on the coasts or who've studied marine life for many years. Without healthy oceans -- the fertile wombs of our worlds -- we land dwellers are also lost. It's a simple equation: Oceans = life support.
Because we are so focused on our terrestrial life, the marine world is often our dumping ground, battlefield, or playground. In the 21st century we are at last turning our attention to the fact that our oceans are so degraded, we face "the next mass extinction" -- and it's man-made.
If we humans created this disaster, then we can take action to help stop it. We cannot leave saving our seas to scientists or governments. Nor do we have time for the denial of compassion fatigue or despair. The only antidote is engagement, education, and action. Here are ten simple steps that we can do every day to help heal our oceans.
1. Declare No Driving Days -- By reducing our own CO2 emissions, we decrease our carbon imprint and ease the pollution, warming, and acidification of our oceans. Locomote more! Take public transit. Save money and fuel. Support new green fuel technologies, cars, and daily kick the habit of fossil fuels.
2. Eat Less Fish -- Overfishing has devastated marine species from top to bottom. If you eat fish, then support sustainable fisheries and don't eat farm-raised fish. The Monterey Bay Aquarium has a handy shopping guide. And boycott goods from countries that still practice the primitive and brutal commerce of whaling.
3. Just Say No to Plastic -- Plastic bags, balloons, water bottles all end up in our water systems. Slow to degrade and often mistaken for prey by marine mammals, this plastic is choking our seas. There are continents of plastic afloat in our waters. Recycle responsibly; use stainless steal water bottles, cloth shopping bags, and glass instead of plastic.
4. No Dumping: Watch what you flush. No pharmaceuticals, cleaning products with bleach or phosphates, or kitty litter. Flushable kitty litter has been cited as a major cause of seal deaths from contamination and pollution. Use recyclable toilet paper, towels and while we're at it, let's plant more oxygen-rich trees.
5. Stop Run-Off: This is a major man-made problem that can be easily limited. Wash your car at a car wash that advertises "Clean Green" to stop grease, anti-freeze, oil, and heavy metals from draining into your water systems. Report any illegal dumping of paint or pollutants. Inland farming dumps agricultural run-off that creates "Dead Zones" -- vast areas of oxygen-starved seas that kills marine life.
6. Support Your Bodies of Water: Adopt a local wetlands, stream, river, bay, or ocean. Such grassroots organizations as American Rivers, People for Puget Sound, and Sierra Club all offer direct conservation activities from wetlands restoration to day-lighting streams to beach litter pick-up. Or start your own group of citizen naturalists.
Clark Little photography
7. Adopt Other Species: Whether it's Save the Manatee Club, Orca Network, Save Our Wild Salmon, Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society, or Seal Sitters there are many organizations working to protect marine life. Joining grassroots organizations not only educates us about marine life; it also expands our kinship system to include others. It's the basic tenet we teach our children: To share. Interspecies adoption works!
8. Commit Daily Acts of Climate Change: Instead of feeling helpless and overwhelmed by the Big Picture of global warming, educate yourself and your children about its causes and possible remedies. Search websites such as Greenpeace's Stop Climate Change.
9. Support Marine Protected Areas: Like our far-sighted national parks and forests, Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) have proven that conservation of species and habitat actually works. The benefits of MPAs are clear: cleaner waters, more fish, healthy coral reefs, and a legacy for all next generations. See:
10. Be Blue: We are all People of the Sea. Our species evolved from the primal oceans and it is our oceans that will determine our destiny and survival. After all, we're not just talking any more about other species' extinction -- but our own. See: Heal The Ocean.
photo: Clark Little

In the remarkable book, THE WORLD WITHOUT US, author Alan Weisman notes that centuries ago, the seas were so abundant and healthy, our ships actually collided with whales, some fish like groupers were 800 pounds, and long-lived sea turtles were 1,000 pounds. Coral reefs shimmered with life. In our brief blip of geological time, humans have stripped the seas -- from overfishing to pollution to military sonars that deafen and destroy marine mammals.
Weisman imagines our "sea cradle" recovering perhaps only after our species disappears. If we take the long view of geology, natural selection may simply disappear our self-destructive, short-sighted species. And the seas will recover, with or without us.
Wouldn't it be wonderful if it were with our help? Our bodies, like our planet, are mostly made up of water. So whether you're land-locked, conservative or democrat, whatever your faith, young or old -- every last one of us literally lives by water.
Brenda Peterson is a National Geographic author. Her sixteen books include Living by WaterBuild Me an Ark, and the recent memoir, I Want To Be Left Behind: Finding Rapture Here on Earth, whichThe Christian Science Monitor named as among "Top Ten Best Non-Fiction Books of 2010." Peterson is the founder of Seal Sitters. For more: and

Dear Friends,
Please post this widely and help heal our oceans. Also, here is more of the sublime photography by Clark Little, whom I discovered on line at this website:

Saturday, June 11, 2011


Uko Gorter, natural history illustrator extraordinaire at

View of Seattle skyline from West Seattle beach

And here's video of  the gray whale, like those I wrote about in my National Geographic
 Sightings with co-author Linda Hogan.

Graduating class of 2011 take their biology and bright chalk art to the walkway outside West Seattle High School

I awoke this morning to the Salish Sea alarm clock of sea lions barking in my back yard. A good sign for writing my new water world novel. And then on my daily walk, we discovered this cetacean gallery as the West Seattle 2011 class celebrates their graduation.

This is one of the reasons I so love living in Seattle for the past 30 years. We live by water and share the shores with our marine mammal cousins -- from orcas to sea lions to harbor seals. They are not just "out there" but part of the neighborhood!

I hope you enjoy these video and photo highlights as much as I do. And congratulations to all the graduating classes of 2011. You give me much hope for the future.

Harbor porpoise

Sea Lion

After the discovery of this chalk walk of cetaceans, a friend and I decided to have a relaxed Saturday afternoon in sunny Seattle and go down to the water to take in a sailboat regatta. Here's the Seattle skyline on this beach walk. We've been unseasonably cold this spring, but compared all other parts of this country, we've the lucky ones. No heat wave here. Just happiness in our home waters.

For those of you intrigued by this high school cetacean gallery, please visit my friend, Uko Gorter's, fabulous professional natural history illustrations. He has a new poster-sized gallery of his beautiful cetacean illustrations on his website at:

Now for a much needed afternoon nap, listening to the raucous serenade of sea lions!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

We All Live by Water Celebrate World Oceans Day

Here is my photo from my West Seattle neighborhood of the Salish Sea (a.k.a. Puget Sound)
I have always preferred the Salish name because of its indigenous roots and the fact that Peter Puget, a British aristocrat, never saw the vast, serpentine inland sea that was named for him by Lewis and Clark.

It's sunset, early June, and you can see the ferry to Bainbridge Island in the long, slanting light of early evening. Here in the Pacific Northwest, the sunsets are late as we move toward the Summer Solstice. The light is almost as long as the summer ferry lines as we greet many visitors to our shores.

On this worldwide day of celebrating our blue planet's oceans, please think of something you can do every day to help restore and conserve the watery womb of our world. You might want to start a neighborhood watch or grassroots organizations as I did with Seal Sitters.

Every pupping season from late June through October, we neighborhood Seal Sitters keep watch over seal pups resting on shore while their mothers are out fishing. For more information on Seal Sitters, please see our website:

And for more information on World Oceans Day and how to get involved, here's a link: Oceans Day – 8th June 2011ARKive Blog
June 2011
[Several photos]
The 8th of June is World Oceans Day, our annual chance to celebrate all things marine! Coordinated by The Ocean Project and The World Ocean Network, World Oceans Day encourages us to consider everything that the oceans provide us with – from oxygen to climate regulation, food to pharmaceuticals and of course, the breath taking beauty of this underwater wonderland.
By raising awareness of the resources that the oceans provide, World Oceans Day hopes to encourage us to do our bit to protect this valuable environment, especially in these challenging times when factors like climate change, plastic waste, over-fishing and environmental disasters such as the Deepwater Horizon oil spill all threaten to damage our oceans beyond repair.
Each year, World Oceans Day takes on a different theme. You may remember that last year’s theme was “Pick your favourite, Protect your favourite” and the ARKive team had great fun picking their favourite marine species. The theme for 2011 and 2012 is “Youth: the Next Wave for Change”, the idea being to inspire young people around the world to care for the marine environment, as the future of ocean conservation is in their hands.
Wherever you are in the world there are loads of ways to get involved, whether you want to get together with friends or colleagues to organise an aquatic clean up, take the Seven C’s Pledge to reduce your environmental impact, or simply host your own celebration of the seas. If you are stuck for ideas, the World Oceans Day website has plenty of suggestions as well as a list of organised events around the globe, as they say, there’s an “ocean of opportunities” to help and celebrate!
And if you need any more inspiration, why not check out the wonderful range of marine species on ARKive:

And you might also want to enjoy my Northwest classic Living by Water: True Stories of Nature and Spirit: htp://


Sunday, June 5, 2011

The Reality of Global Climate Change is Upon Us - Newsweek

The Reality of Global Climate Change is Upon Us - Newsweek

No, it's not the end of the world. It's the tribulations we all share with climate change. What if we're all left behind here to help the earth and the waters heal?