Living Ocean's Plastic Free July event will be held on July 19th-20th this year and will include a Recycled Fashion Show using some of those great numbers you won't find anywhere else but in Red Cross shops. The team is also keeping an eye on the growing seal colony on Barrenjoey headland and may be incorporating some research into this colony soon.
On Saturday, June 8th, Worlds Ocean Day, members were at North Palm Beach with volunteer citizen scientists and Macquarie university students conducting another microplastics data collection as part of their research studies on our local beaches and waterways in conjunction with the world-leading AUSMAP program.
Living Ocean's Centre for Marine Studies builds upon the expertise of the Whale and Seal Foundation (WSF), which merged into Living Ocean. WSF brought into Living Ocean experienced whale researchers and educators, including several of the most experienced whale rescue specialists in Australia. For many years WSF volunteers trained the NSW National Parks Service, Australian National Parks, Water Police and other organisations in the rescue of stranded and entangled whales.
Bill Fulton - IT Cetacean behaviour and tracking programmer, was one of those WSF members and has spent over 35 years in the study of marine mammals, focusing on humpback whales, especially those that migrate north and south each year.
Whales have been his passion but that was extended to seals and now is bringing in collecting data of microplastics on our beaches as part of Living Ocean's continued focus on a 'No Plastic Please' life.
In 1992 the Government of Canada proposed setting a World Ocean Day during the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro. World Oceans Day provides an opportunity to honour, help protect, and conserve the ocean. This week a small insight into a member of Living Ocean who has been honouring and celebrating and working for everything in the ocean for longer than that and has introduced some things that were not here before he did this work.
Where were you born?
In Charters Towers in Queensland. I grew up in the Brisbane area. I remember holidays at Noosa, we used to go there for two or three weeks every year and stay in the camping ground. It was completely undeveloped then; lots of sand-flies, an old General store/Post Office, some fisherman’s huts and that’s all. The river mouth had not been rediverted then, it was just an amazing place. We’d do lots of walking in the National Park, a lot of fishing. I can’t fish now as I haven’t the heart for it anymore.
When I go back now the Noosa National Park is just the same as it ever was, still wonderful.
Did you go to university?
I did, I majored in Physics and Mathematics. I took Russian as a side subject
We used to go to film festivals at Uni, we’d pig out on four films per day. One of them was a Russian film with a beautiful girl but I couldn’t understand a single word she was saying. If it’s French or something similar you can understand one or two words but with Russian – nothing. So I thought, ‘I’ve really got to learn this language’. And it turned out to be my best subject.
What was the name of the film?
Сорок первый, romanized as 'Sorok pervyy' – which means ‘The Forty First’. It was a wartime movie.
What did you do after you graduated?
I worked in the University Computer Centre for a year or so. The computer vendor who I’d been working with at the university invited me to join his company, which was a US computer manufacturer. I went straight to America for a year, which was quite an experience for a Brisbane boy from the backwoods. I was based just outside of Boston and worked for them for 25 years and would often go over there, so Boston is like a second home to me. I was just there last month for a holiday.
A beautiful place – lucky you – so many historic buildings and a wonderful culture?
Yes, a very beautiful place and so many historic contexts; it’s where the first shot was fired in the War of Independence, brilliant buildings, great stuff.
How did your interest in what’s going on in the oceans commence?
I’ve always loved the ocean and am an ocean person. It really started in 1983 when my wife Samantha and I went on a whale watch trip in Massachusetts, just south of Boston , from Provincetown. That is where whale watching started. The boat went out and we looked around and there were no whales. The boat stopped and nothing much was happening and then suddenly whales came to the boat, stuck their heads out of the water and I had eye to eye contact. They were humpbacks.
We saw the humpbacks doing the bubble net feeding where they spiral up concentrating the fish and then break the surface with their mouth open, it was quite amazing.
When I came back, a few months later, I was in Sydney on a rainy day, a Saturday I think, and there was a sandwich board placard on the street which said ‘ORRCA – Whale Rescue – Step Inside’. So I stepped inside…and the rest is history I suppose.
They said ‘Bill, we need a newsletter Editor’. So I became the Newsletter Editor and this was before there were any computers – we were duplicating them, licking stamps and putting them in envelopes. Being a computer person I turned it into an electronic process.
Over time I went through different roles in ORRCA, Treasurer and Secretary and eventually President. I started in the mid 1980’s and was there for many years. My wife Samantha, now sadly deceased, is the one who did so much for ORRCA. She was the Research Officer and transformed the organisation into a much more professional group – what it became is due much more to her than to me.
Samantha had been a Research Assistant in Economics at ANU (Australian National University), but she also taught herself Biology and Marine Science and all about Marine mammals and could hold it with the best by the time she was done.
Samantha created so many institutions in ORRCA that continue to today and I’m so thrilled that ORRCA is so successful today. She created the whale cemeteries – this is where we would be doing post-mortems on whales and then transporting them to this secret location whale cemetery in the National Park for the necropsies. Samantha invented the 24 hour hotline that was transferred from, home to home and was one of the main people manning the hotline 24/7 for many years. She absolutely reinvented ORRCA.
..and reinvented looking after our whales and seals and all other manner of Marine Mammals too then?
Absolutely. About 15 years later I sat in on an ORRCA AGM and I was thrilled that all the institutions that Samantha had initiated were still part of the organisation.
How did your whale research programs commence?
I was with Sam Barripp and we’d go out in Sam’s little 5.3 metre boat studying the humpbacks. We started doing this just prior to leaving ORRCA. Sam is also another ex-President of ORRCA, a brilliant man. ORRCA could not support our research at that stage so Sam and I and some other friends from ORRCA went and formed the Whale and Seal Foundation. ORRCA focuses on rescue whereas the Whale and Seal Foundation was focussed on research. The entire Training Team from ORRCA then became part of the Whale and Seal Foundation – this was the team that trained the National Parks and Wildlife Service in whale rescue and disentanglement.
One of the most satisfying things in my life was being able to institute how to deal with whale disentanglement. In Australia ancient and primitive techniques were being used that were very dangerous to humans and not very effective for the whales. I sat down in Provincetown on the beach with Dr. Charles 'Stormy' Mayo, who was the leading proponent in the US of this new disentanglement method. He was at the Center for Coastal Studies where I took a Summer School once. Stormy explained and showed the whole method to me that had been so successful and relatively safe.
I came back to Australia and taught that to the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service who then took it up. We were also able to share this with a gentleman from Western Australia, Doug Coughran, a leading light in their National Parks CALM department. Doug took it on board and he trained all the other states and now this method is universally used in Australia.
That continued for many years until the time came when Sam’s boat could no longer be available and we were at a crossroads. We decided to approach Living Ocean as we knew they had a similar interest, objectives and focus and they were very welcoming. We merged the Whale and Seal Foundation with them and became the Research arm of Living Ocean, which they didn’t have before.
How long have you been collecting whale migration data with Living Ocean?
We started that in 2004. I wrote an App in 2003 to support it. That was the idea behind the App – we were going out in this little boat and we couldn’t take all this heavy and cumbersome computer equipment with us. Just at this time little hand held computers became available – a Microsoft pocket PC. So I wrote this App using the GPS and put other stuff in it so it would talk to the depth sounder and the temperature gauge in the boat and record all this automatically and accurately for us.
So we now have these tracks on a map for humpbacks. Sam and I had stood there on a headland and wondered – well, where are these whales going? How do they, for instance, follow the seafloor topography – why do some of them go straight across to Copacabana and why do some of them come inshore – what’s going on? So it was just out of pure curiosity that we began following - which is always the best way to get involved in something – follow your curiosity.
Living Ocean’s research arm is also now focusing in on collecting data on microplastics?
Yes, this is in conjunction with a group called AUSMAP. This is headed up by the Total Environment Centre with two Academics who are driving it, Michelle Blewitt and Scott Wilson at Macquarie University.
This is a world first citizen science project in microplastics that’s has scientific validity. The objective of AUSMAP is to create a heatmap of microplastics in Australia. AUSMAP has trained Living Ocean and we’ve sat an exam and been certified as team leaders for microplastics collection.
Living Ocean’s role is to round up the public, which we do via Facebook, and bring them along to these microplastic events where we collect data. What we want to do is find out how much microplastic is on the beach and what kind is it. We then roll that up onto the database where scientists can study what’s happening. At the moment there is very little information on microplastics so if government goes to scientists and asks ‘what should we do?’ they would shrug their shoulders as they don’t have the information to advise. This is a very very important project.
We select a small strip of beach and first collect the macroplastic – which is pieces of plastic that are above 5mm in size. We then select up to several small squares, scrape off the top level of sand and then sieve these for microplastics, analyse them and then write up what is there and then put this on the database.
So this now full-time work for you Bill?
No, it’s certainly an avocation though. I’m retired but am now working harder than I ever did.
At present I’m working full-time on developing an iPhone app or mobile phone App for Behavioural Scientists who are studying animal behaviour. So obviously that grew out of that App I wrote in 1983 but it is totally general now and so can be used for any animal – a mountain gorilla or any other animal. It’s integrating the observation of behaviour and location and environment. So it will record the different behaviours the animal is doing, record their tracks, and the environment they’re in. So that all get’s integrated and comes up on a big map.
I think you may be one of those quiet geniuses Bill…
No – it’s what a famous person once said; 99% perspiration and 1% inspiration.
What is your favourite place in Pittwater?
That would be on Barrenjoey Headland where there is at present a developing seal colony. This is a very interesting place to watch
What is your ‘motto for life’ or a favourite phrase you try to live by?
"Nothing in life is to be feared, it is only to be understood." – Marie Curie.
BILLS APP. BEHAYVE IS NOW AVAILABLE ON THE APPLE APP. STORE
*all blogs and the views expressed are entirely the writers own and Living Ocean waives any responsibility for views expressed, even if we believe them to be true.
"It feels like the future, and the longer I own it, the more the idea of burning fossil fuel seems like the past"
The future is fast, silent and exciting.
Just over a year ago I was in the market for a compact modern hatchback for zapping around Sydney, and on an impulse test drove a 2015 BMW i3 with 26,000 k’s on the clock. About 100m into the drive, I was hooked and ended up buying it. This is the effect it has on every passenger or driver due to the effortless and silent power.
It feels like the future, and the longer I own it, the more the idea of burning fossil fuel seems like the past.
Since then I have completed 14,000.km’s, for a total cost in electricity of $560, charging exclusively from a standard 240v power point in my garage.
The range is about 120k which rules it out for long trips, but it handles every journey I ever want to do within the Sydney metro including to the airport and back from my home in Avalon.
The 2019 version now has more than double the range which provides an indication about how quickly battery technology is improving.
One of the advantages of EV’s is their simplicity. The motor has one moving part, and the one speed gear box has only a few, so the total is small compared to the hundreds in the typical modern ICE ( internal combustion engine ) drivetrain.
And the brakes don’t get used much as lifting off will slow the car to a complete stop while recharging the battery.
All of this is reflected in the running costs which are significantly less. My i3 recently had its’ annual service and all that it needed was new brake fluid, and a window washer bottle top up.
The main appeal of EV’s is zero emissions, but you can’t brag about that if you are using coal fired electricity, so I switched over to Power Shop which provides 100 % renewable power.
Plus the factory where they are made in Germany also runs on 100% renewable energy, so bragging rights are preserved.
This is the second age of electric cars as they dominated car sales in the early 1900’s competing against petrol and steam power. In New York alone there were 15,000 EVs running around and charging stations through out the city. Even Grandma Duck had one !
Speaking of driving between major cities, last Christmas I drove from Munich to Nice with my son in his Tesla model S which is about 1000 k’s. We did not attempt to maximise the range, and hit 200 a few times on the autobahn, but charging did not add any time to the trip as we topped up at Telsa fast charging stations at mid - morning , lunch and mid - afternoon. In each case we did not stop any longer than we would have in an ICE( Internal Combustion Engine) vehicle.
The i3’s battery is warranted for 8 years, but overseas experience is showing that the batteries are lasting a lot longer than any one expected. I read a prediction recently that the battery in my car should be good for 20 years or 800,000 k’s, but I haven’t researched that thoroughly yet. End of life is defined as a 20% drop in charging capacity, so the battery will probably last longer than me.
At present EV’s are much more expensive the ICE vehicles, but that will change rapidly. VW are planning on releasing 30 new EV’s between now and 2025 in every category ( including a super cool Kombi ), and their stated aim is to sell them at the same price as the ICE equivalent.
Every car manufactures is jumping on board as most major cities are going to ban ICE cars in the next few years, there will be no other way to meet new emission and economy targets .
Some may think that EV’s will be boring, but this is the best car I have ever owned including a couple of 911’s.
Norway races ahead because they made a fortune from fossil fuels and invested in a sovereign fund that has allowed them to now rapidly divest from that industry and go 'green'.
The irony is Australia isn't even on the chart below. To add insult to this fact, Norway is having one last slurp of black gold here in the Great Australian Bight so they can afford to make the transition to electric even faster.
Peter Downes 0488 662 445
Distinguished conservation biologist. Award-winning author & broadcaster.
Eco-stress physiologist Reese Halter specialises in Earth life support systems.
The whales, turtles, manatees, dugongs, albatross, ravens, hummingbirds are his brothers and sisters.
*all blogs and the views expressed are entirely the writers own and Living Ocean waives any responsibility for views expressed, even if we believe them to be true.
*Earth is roasting right before our very eyes.
The heatwaves in Siberia and Lapland have begun with fury, again. Alaska recorded its hottest spring on record. It’s warming at 2.2C (3.96F), or, twice that of continental United States.
The more fossil fuels burned, the faster the globe heats. That means less polar ice and more global heating methane and laughing gas from the thawing soils. A deadly feedback loop.
At the melting North Pole, researchers have linked Man-made heat from fossil fuel combustion with the jet stream’s erratic sinuous behaviour.
In the past, the six-mile high tropical, mid-latitude and polar jet streams reached wind speeds averaging 300 mph, powered by the difference in temperature between the tropics and Arctic.
Today, the northern hemisphere jet stream winds repeatedly sputter. Instead of tightly hugging tropical, mid-latitude and polar bands, huge jet stream waves are stretching across the northern hemisphere. Climate instability has broken loose. Not just in the winter.
Epic flooding across the U.S. this spring has prevented farmers from planting corn and soybeans. Some estimates predict as many as 10 million acres were under water or too soggy and late to plant. 125-year flooding records were squashed and there’s more flooding ahead.
Heatwaves and droughts are wreaking havoc amongst Earth’s emerald crown, its largest remaining tracts of ancient forests. It’s tinderbox dry across northern Canada. Firestorms are raging. One out of control monster, the Chuckegg Creek Fire, is roaring near Alberta’s fossil fuel tar sands. It’s 50 percent larger than last year’s record breaking Mendocino Complex Fire in California.
Across Canada, 87 wildfires are scorching the land and incinerating wildlife. 6 million acres are charred each year. It’s doubled since the 1970s. The fires season is beginning sooner, burning hotter and lasting longer into the autumn. Human fossil fuel fingerprints are all over this crime scene.
Forests are the lungs of Earth, vital climate stabilizers. The more subsidized fossil fuels that are combusted, the faster atmospheric oxygen tumbles.
Further south, along the U.S. eastern seaboard, Gulf coasts and elsewhere, intense polar heat is very evident as sea level rise is also killing the forests. Greenland is melting almost six times faster than the 1980s. It lost two billion tons of ice on Thursday.
On the other side of the world, India a nation of 1.3 billion humans is broiling. Earlier this week, the capital of New Delhi broke its all-time high of 48C (118.4F). A day later, a merciless heat dome smothered many millions of people as the mercury soared to 50.6C (123.1F). India has a water shortage. How will they contend with the next decade?
In the middle of winter, the South Pole, too, is melting at an unprecedented rate. Vast holes the size of South Carolina and larger are splitting open sea ice. There’s so much fossil fuel heat stored deep within the Southern Ocean, it’s begun to surface and devour sea ice with vengeance.
Earth is losing its white reflective surfaces everywhere. While these Man-made telltales are flashing code red, rapacious bankers are instructing corrupt politicians to greenlight more fossil fuel plays and disregard all scientific warnings.
For example this week in Queensland Australia, the government rubber-stamped a water permit enabling the Indian-based Adani Group to drain a rare oasis, the Doongmabulla Complex Springs, for a new behemoth coalmine.
If that isn’t heartbreaking enough, the Carmichael coalmine contamination will seep into the Great Artesian Basin, the largest aquifer on Earth. That ancient freshwater is vital for all life especially as the climate gets hotter and drier in Queensland, New South Wales, Northern Territory and South Australia, or, 22 percent of the area of Australia. To poison that sacred life-sustaining water and knowingly fricassee our only home is deranged ecocide!
We must all do our part to protect our glorious planet and our brethren, the animals.
*Around the globe dolphins & WHALES are showing scientists that the planet has become unlivEable. deaths are piling up.
Each year, 400,000 cetaceans are destroyed. We are knowingly sentencing our brothers and sisters to extinction. Yet, our fate is inexorably linked to theirs.
Globally, 44,000 floating slaughterhouses are marauding the oceans 24/7/365. Measuring a total of 13 million miles, with a couple of billion legal and illegal hooks, they are wiping, tunas, sharks, rays, sea turtles, cetaceans (whales, dolphins, porpoises), sea birds and so many other masterpieces off the planet at an unprecedented rate.
Overfishing is rampant. It’s rife with corruption and organized crime. In February, along France’s western coastline, 600 mutilated dolphins drifted ashore. They drowned in the Bay of Biscay as bycatch within fishery nets. 90 percent of these masterpieces were amputees with broken jaws caused by being trapped in nets and struggling unsuccessfully for life.
Never have the oceans been emptied of every large creature of every species in 1.1 billion years of reproductive evolution. Each year, deep-sea trawling is ransacking the ocean floor and its seamounts by an area 150 times greater than clear-cutting ancient forests. 4,000-year-old deep-sea cold coral gardens, the slowest growing communities on Earth are being smashed to smithereens. Hideous biological annihilation.
Annually, 250 billion metric tons of Man-made long lasting poisons are running into waterways that drain into the oceans. Bottlenose dolphins from Perth’s Swan River and Adelaide’s Port River are laced with cancer-causing non-stick chemicals used in cookware, upholsteries and carpets. These dolphins contain some of the highest known concentration levels in the world.
Every Port River bottlenose dolphin born this year along Adelaide’s river is dead. Over the previous two years, 11 of 13 calves have perished. Shipping strikes as well as poisons are the culprits.
In addition to all these atrocities, the oceans are broiling with stored fossil fuel heat. 2018 was the hottest global ocean temperature ever recorded. It is the equivalent heat of detonating 100 million Hiroshima-style bombs.
Expanding and accelerating oil and gas seismic surveys are also wreaking havoc with all sea life. Pulses of 242 decibels every 10 seconds 24/7 for weeks or months are deafening cetaceans and shattering larvae of many species in the phytoplankton off Australia, New Zealand, Mozambique, Peru and elsewhere. We need courageous lawmakers that will end this global insanity now.
In 2017, a record number of 416 long-finned pilots were stranded on a remote coastline of New Zealand. Seismic surveys were fingered as the perpetrator. These pernicious explosions shatter cetacean eardrums. When these superlative mammals lose their hearing, they cannot communicate or hunt, so they must commit suicide. Man’s shameless lust for more climate-destroying petroleum is evil!
Lastly, wretched petroleum-based plastics are choking the dolphins and all marine life. Recently, an Olympian deep diver, a Cuvier’s-beaked dolphin washed ashore near Davao City, Philippines. Our brethren was crammed full of 88 pounds of plastics including 16 rice sacks, four banana plantation-style bags and many dozens of single-use disposable bags. It’s the latest in an ever-growing list of cetaceans suffocating on plastics.
Take action now.
We are all required to lend a helping hand by consuming and wasting much less. Refuse plastics. Reduce your family’s carbon footprint by switching to a plant-based diet. Walk more. Bicycle more. Drive less. Ride share. Spend 15 minutes daily next to a tree and breathe. Join the resistance.
Each of us must change and we must change now.
Support organisations like SeaShepherd and Living Ocean because they are protecting our kindred beings, the whales, the dolphins and the porpoises.
Distinguished conservation biologist. Award-winning author & broadcaster.
Eco-stress physiologist Reese Halter specialises in Earth life support systems. The whales, turtles, manatees, dugongs, albatross, ravens, hummingbirds are his brothers and sisters.
The Great Australian Bight is home to endangered pygmy blue whales, southern right whales and southern bluefin tunas. It’s an essential feeding ground for sea lions, great white sharks, migratory sperm whales and short-tailed shearwaters. 85 percent of all the marine species that are found in the Bight occur nowhere else on the globe.
Non-stop ear shattering pulses of 242 decibels every 10 seconds will occur for 90 consecutive days. Not only do seismic surveys burst larvae within the plush mats of phytoplankton, the basis of the entire marine web, but also, they smash to smithereens eardrums of cetaceans (whales, dolphins, porpoises). Excruciating pain drives these masterpieces to beach themselves before eventually expiring.
“I fail to see how you can actually approve this type of seismic activity in the middle of one of the most significant nurseries in the world,” remarked Peter Owen, South Australian Director at The Wilderness Society Australia. “It’s totally unacceptable.”
Author DR REESE HALTER*
Distinguished conservation biologist. Award-winning author & broadcaster.
Legendary biologist and animal activist Farley Mowat meticulously documented the human destruction of cetaceans in Sea of Slaughter. He estimated that humans murdered in excess of five million whales in 18th, 19th and first half of the 20th centuries.
The World Animal Protection conservation group blew the whistle in 2017 on 640,000 metric tons of fisheries gear, mostly petroleum-based plastics, discarded annually. They estimated that the life span of those nets and hooked lines was 600 years.
Some 13 million miles of longlines with a couple billion hooks indiscriminately kill 50 million sharks and another 50 million are ruthlessly annihilated annually. 100 million butchered sharks each year.
…more than 40 countries savagely hunt 100,000 dolphins and small whales each year.“
- Peru (15,000 for bait and shark finning);
- Nigeria (10,000 meat market and fishing bait);
- Brazil (several thousand for fishing bait);
- Venezuela (several thousand for meat and fishing bait);
- India (several thousand for meat and fish bait);
- Madagascar (several thousand for meat and fish bait;
- South Korea (several thousand for meat);
- Malaysia (several thousand for meat and fish bait);
- Greenland (3,100 for meat) and
- Japan (about 2,300 for meat).
The worst cetacean-killer of them all is Japan. Japanese ocean-killers have exterminated 173,662 dolphins and small whales.”
As if this insatiable human lust for cetacean cruelty isn’t enough to sicken you, there’s more.
At the International Whaling Commission (IWC) meeting on September 4, 2018, in Florianopolis, Brazil, Japan intends on introducing and passing a motion to resume commercial whaling. Recently, Japan went on a Caribbean buying spree to attain votes ahead of the whaling meeting. Japan is well known for its overt bribing of government officials from industrialized developing countries in order to control the IWC.
Each year, Japan kills hundreds of pregnant minkes in both the Southern Ocean and the North Pacific. But that is not enough. They want more whale blood, not for human consumption, but rather, as dog treats
Worst of all, 242 decibels of incessant global seismic surveys every 10 seconds for weeks or months on end that deafen them, as humans scour the sea beds for every last drop of climate-wrecking subsidized fossil fuels. A deaf whale is a dead whale.
Already, deadly fossil fuel pollution has claimed 337 giant sei whales in the largest mass stranding of filter feeders ever recorded. The whales were victims of man-made fossil fuel heat. They ate squat lobsters laced with domoic acid from a heat-induced red tide along the shores of Patagonia.
At this current rate of unrelenting persecution the cetaceans have no chance of survival. Not only is this amoral and criminal, it is suicidal for the human race. Without the whales, dolphins and porpoises the oceans will collapse.
It’s time for each of us to double-down and reaffirm our morals and love of Nature.
“Ethics is nothing other than Reverence for Life. Reverence for life affords my fundamental principle of morality, namely, that good consists in maintaining, assisting and enhancing life, and to destroy, to harm or to hinder life is evil,” wrote Dr. Albert Schweitzer.
- Do not purchase cetacean-killing country products or services.
- Refuse to support their tourism.
- Refuse to support the 2020 Tokyo Summer Olympics.
The Future Of The Ocean: A Positive View
The Five Biggest Impacts Facing Our Oceans, plus Five Easy Ways You Can Make A Difference.
A BLOG by alice forrest - conservationist, activist, mermaid, ocean frother & adventurer.
We all know about this one – almost everything we use day-to-day is packaged in, surrounded by, carried in or drunk out of plastic. From those sneakily plastic-lined coffee cups, to the ubiquitous supermarket bag, to straws & soy sauce fish & bottled water. It’s inescapable. You may not know that it has now made it to the bottom of the deepest sea, to the inside of humpback whales & even inside people (11,000 microplastic particles a year for seafood eaters!). You may not be aware of quite how huge this problem is, with virtually every piece of plastic ever made still in existence and more microplastic in the ocean than stars in the Milky Way. It all seems a little overwhelming. The good news is, we have all the solutions we need. This is as simple as reduce, reuse, redesign & change your habits. There are a million things you can do, but here’s just one easy thing to start with:
SAY NO TO SINGLE USE PLASTICS: straws, coffee cups, bottles, bags… Choose one and start with that and for good measure, you can also TAKE 3 pieces of trash next time you’re at the beach.
I’m sure you’re probably heard of this one too, but did you know it affects our ocean in a range of different ways, not just through rising water levels in South Pacific Islands. Here’s a brief list: ocean acidification (nicely summed up in this daggy cartoon video), mass coral bleaching, changes in fish distribution, drowning our wetlands, changing plankton behavior (the base of the whole food chain), and messing with tiny baby turtles (their sex is determined by temperature). Even potentially changing the basic oceanic currents, which keep Europe warm and the Arctic cold.
Again there are many solutions, from taking the bus more to switching your energy supplier, but probably the easiest thing you can do right now is to:
CHANGE YOUR DIET – this could be going vegan (trust me, it’s easier than it sounds and you do get used to life with no cheese) or even just reducing your meat consumption (Meat Free Mondays anyone?) – animal farming is a huge producer of CO2. Additionally, shopping local & in season makes a massive difference.
Basically, we are now just much too good at catching fish, and we are pulling them out of the ocean faster than they can reproduce. Our vast ocean is not limitless, and many fish stocks have collapsed. This includes the large predators – populations of big fish like marlin, tuna, and even cod have been reduced by 90 percent since 1950. Some studies say we can expect total fisheries collapse by 2048. Farmed fish is also not a great answer and pirate fishing is a growing issue.
Luckily the news here is not all bad, recent research has shown that fisheries management programs in some countries (including Australia, Canada & Norway) are increasing fish stocks. However there are many countries where the opposite is true. So, is seafood really necessary for you? If so, there are Sustainable Seafood apps out there: know what you’re eating, and how/where it was caught. As well as changing your diet, an awesome way to protect our oceans is simply to:
SUPPORT MARINE SANCTUARIES – they maintain critical biodiversity, protect habitat, can boost fish stocks, and help oceanic communities build resistance to problems like climate change. (There’s a sweet video here if you want to learn more.)
While we were all told in the 90s to Wear Sunscreen, it’s now increasingly clear that it’s actually causing huge amounts of damage to coral reefs. Oxybenzone, along with several other chemicals found in almost all sunscreens (particularly sprays) seriously harms coral, having a similar effect as gasoline! That’s why Hawaii is currently introducing a law to make certain sunscreens illegal.
While pollution in general, along with habitat destruction, seismic testing, seabed mining, oil spills & introduced species could all probably be put on a list like this, I feel like the sunscreen thing is much easier to take on board. As well as finding some shade, covering up (hats/shirts/shorts/rashies) & learning more, all you need to do is:
SWITCH YOUR SUNCREEN. Consider awesome alternatives like SurfMud, Sun Butter or Surf Yogis (or at least check the bottle & buy non-nano Zinc Oxide based sun protection).
Of all these threats, this one is the most toxic, terrifying & ominous one of them all. And also the most easily fixed. While it’s easy to feel like our actions don’t make a difference, it’s also literally the only thing we can do. You can’t control the climate, government decisions, business activities, or fishing pirates. You can take your own coffee cup to work, switch sunscreens and think about what you’re eating.
Supporting legislation changes like marine sanctuaries (for example in Sydney) and organizationswho fight to protect the ocean is also worth doing, but at the end of the day the best thing you can do is:
JUST DO SOMETHING. Start with One Thing. Make it as simple as you need, but the important thing is that you try. Also, smile why you do it. And most importantly, get out there and enjoy it. Because there’s no way we’ll be able to save our big blue planet without positivity & some serious love for that magical salty playground.
BILL FULTON, LIVING OCEAN MARINE RESEARCH DIRECTOR, VOLUNTEERS WITH DR. JENN LAVERS ON LORD HOWE ISLAND TO ASSIST IN ASSESSING THE IMPACT OF PLASTICS IN SHEARWATER POPULATIONS.
LIVING OCEANS FUNDS SOME OF THIS RESEARCH WITH DONATIONS FROM ITS MEMBERS AND TRUST FUND...
Like so many others bagged that night, it weighs only a couple of hundred grams, far below the healthy weight of 550-750 grams for a chick its age. It is emaciated and starving. As is usual for the species, its parents have left for the Sea of Japan in advance of the chicks, so there isn’t going to be any more food until the chick departs the island and learns how to catch it. Clearly this one will never be able to. The starvation may be due to the lack of food in the Tasman Sea, where the parents have ranged over hundreds of kilometres, even as far as Sydney, or a stomach full of plastic that the adults have inadvertently regurgitated along with the squid. Or both. We will be finding out.
Back at the camp, everyone is a picture of concentration and words are few. It’s a production line, and time is precious. Dr Jennifer Lavers from Tasmania is measuring and weighing birds, banding the ones that can be released. Rubbing the chicks’ stomachs, Jennifer gets a good idea of how much plastic they contain. Blood samples that she is taking will be analysed for a range of diseases such as diabetes, allowing a correlation between the amount of plastic and incidence of disease. So far, it’s looking like even small amounts of plastic may cause disease. This year with a larger sample, the blood analysis costs being underwritten by Living Ocean, this suspicion may be confirmed. That would be a stunning result, likely with huge implications for most marine life and ultimately human life as well.
A few steps away Dr Alex Bond, from the UK, is working on the ‘how much plastic’ part with the original instigator of the project, Ian Hutton of the wondrous local Museum. Water under gentle pressure is being introduced into the upper stomach, the proventriculus, flushing its contents into a tub. In the lab tomorrow morning we’ll be counting, classifying and weighing the plastic pieces - 80 of them in one case — nothing near a record, we’re told. Ineke has found a niche as data recorder extraordinaire.
It’s early morning on the beach. After too short a sleep, Ineke and I have slogged our way over to the other side of this mountainous island, and are weary. Rainshowers on the eastern horizon, caught by the light of the rising sun, have a transcendent beauty that ameliorates the tragedy unfolding before us. Here is an emaciated dead chick at the high tide line, here is another, and another. At the base of the cliff, a dying chick is pathetically scratching away in a totally failed attempt to start a burrow. I look away for a moment, then I catch it and put it gently in a carton.
9am sharp and here we are in the lab. There’s scarcely a ‘good morning’ — nothing unfriendly, it’s just there is so much work awaiting. Everyone is at it immediately, a well-oiled machine. The scientists are dissecting birds, dead ones and ones that needed euthanasia. Jennifer, who comes here every year at this time, relates how for years she tried to feed and save emaciated birds but could not succeed with even one. We watch with awe and horror as the two stomach compartments, gizzard and proventriculus, are slit open, revealing piece after piece of plastic, some large, some small, some tiny. Pumice as well - that’s normal. Bottle tops, bits of a computer, nurdles used in plastic manufacture, sharp bits puncturing the stomach, round bits, every shape and colour. And ever so many balloon clips — three in one bird! Plastic and pumice are being counted, weighed to four decimal places, classified and recorded. These, along with feathers, liver and other organ samples are wrapped in aluminium foil for later study. I make some mistakes and am gently corrected. Occasionally I briefly run out of work and can get some video. Twenty-two birds today.
We get a few hours off while the scientists are transferring data to computer. They never stop; it’s awesome to behold. Already it’s time for the next night’s work.
Looking down on the mountains and lagoon as our prop-jet bears us away from the island, our hearts are filled with such varied emotions. The amount of data is stupendous, with a record number of birds processed in 2+ weeks. We reflect on our new-found love for these beautiful birds and hope that our small efforts will in some way help future generations of a species whose numbers have plummeted dramatically in recent times. We think also of the luckier, healthy chicks, who will spend around seven years at sea shuttling between hemispheres without ever making landfall, returning eventually to breed in the colony of their birth and in some cases even to the very same burrow, where some future researcher may find them wearing the bands we attached with love.
It is time to take action. Hundreds of straws were found along our coastline at the monthly beach cleans held by Living Ocean last year. So it thrills the Living Ocean team to hear of local individuals actively promoting their avoidance, such as Farley MacDonald of the Facebook page ‘Convenient for who?’ and Bruce Raymond part-owner of fast food cafe Pineana. We are no longer ignorant to the impact that plastic is having on our oceans and the sea life within. In August 2015, a video went viral that showed the removal of a plastic straw from the nose of a sea turtle. To date, it has had over 11.7 million views. While we often hear about the impact that plastic bags and littering is having on our sea-life, we don’t witness it first hand. As difficult as the video is to watch, it is a moving reminder of the cost of our convenience.
*Warning: video below has graphic content that may be disturbing to some viewers.
While straw use is a global issue, we can make the greatest difference by advocating for change in our local communities, encouraging cafes and restaurants to not immediately offer straws, and if requested to provide an alternative to plastic. Local northern beaches mum, Farley MacDonald, has started a petition to the Northern Beach Council to say no to ’single use’ plastic straws on Sydney’s Northern Beaches. Farley has always lived on Sydney's Northern Beaches and so feels a very strong connection to the area. “Over recent years I had been fighting, fairly quietly, against single-use plastics,” says Harley. "After having my little boy in March last year however, I decided it was time to get louder. I was spending more time (than in a long time) out and about and the amount of rubbish, in particular single-use convenience items, was staggering. I started picking up as much as I could and one item that stood out amongst the rest, was plastic straws. The more I thought about these convenience items, the more I realised just how unnecessary they are! After taking part in 'Clean Up Australia' this year and finding over 100 plastic straws under a 5x4 metre raised seating area on Narrabeen Beach, I decided enough was enough ... the final straw, so to speak! …And so I launched the petition.” Please show you support for the cause and jump over to change.org to sign the petition.
Pineana (Pine - ana), a plant-based asian inspired salad noodle bar in Avalon, is paving the way for other such food outlets in our local community, to say “no” to the plastic straw. Driving Pineana’s ethos to “eat fresh, feel good, do good” is part-owner, local surfing legend, Bruce Raymond and his partners, long time vegans, Tom Luedecke, his wife Anick and Adam Guthrie. As an ocean devotee, he is passionate about protecting our oceans and creating a business of low-environmental impact. They believe that a plant based diet is the best contribution we can make for a better planet: for your own health, the health of the environment, and to be humane to all species. From the outset, Bruce has been in contact with organisations and passionate locals, such as Living Ocean and Wander Lightly, as he endeavours to establish a sustainable business practice.
In their bid to offer a healthy, more environmentally friendly alternative to your typical fast food outlet, Bruce and the Pineana team have faced some challenges. One of which has been to find a suitable alternative to the plastic straw. While ultimately Bruce would like to encourage customers to say ‘no’ to the straw or bring their own straw with an incentive based system, for now, they also need to offer an alternative. He put the problem to Pineana's packaging supplier, Kent Paper in Balgowlah.
While the Pineana business model is fast food based, they are now offering washable bowls for customers dining in. Bruce says they have been listening to feedback from local customers and environmental organisations about their concerns. “We’re currently using PET 1 lids on our takeaway bowls and corn starch take-away cutlery. While these are not the perfect solution, they are a start. We also offer a 10% discount on our Pineapple Crush or coffees, for customers providing their own re-useable cup or straw (stainless steel, bamboo etc). We think this is being proactive in rewarding people who make the effort, and we will help amortise their cost for purchasing the reusable product in this way.” Bruce also points out that they chose to have plant based salads for the huge environmental benefits this offers and they hope to get that message out also.
The Pineana team have worked hard to create a fresh, healthy menu that has no animal products and that does not compromise on taste. Bruce has always been interested in his health and well being, but became more conscious following a quadruple by-pass surgery at the age of 39. Since then he has consulted with specialists who have advocated the health benefits of a meat free diet. His current business partners have long championed the benefits of a plant based diet. Adam Guthrie, a qualified chef and plant based health coach is living proof that wellness starts with food choices. He went from having a heart attack at age 39, to getting off all medications and completing one of the toughest endurance events in the world, an Ironman Triathlon. Adam now has a certificate in plant based nutrition and in addition to co-founding Pineana, writes for EatWell and Wellbeing Magazines. Following the birth of Bruce's first grandson last year, he felt even more strongly about avoiding meat and fish, not just for the fact that a plant-based diet is healthy and more humane, but also in a bid to be more mindful of our environment for the benefit of future generations.
Running your own business is no mean feat and doing it with a bub in tow is a whole ‘nother kettle of fish. So I can’t help but be in total awe of local mum and entrepreneur Anne, who not only started her cold pressed juicing business Prodjuice shortly after the arrival of her daughter, but managed to do this with an environmentally conscious stance. It’s inspiring to see a business all about nourishing the body and soul making greener choices to nurture our environment. That Anne’s own daughter Edie is also the sweetest ray of sunshine speaks volumes for the caring atmosphere she is being raised in.
How did the idea to start a juice company all begin?
I was home with a brand new baby & looking for something to work on to keep me occupied during all the down time. I had heard of this thing called “cold pressed juice” & started following its growing popularity in the States. I took the idea to my Mum (now my business partner) of a premium cold pressed juice brand for Sydney. There wasn’t much else on the Sydney market at the time, but none the less I wanted to make our product different. I knew the branding, packaging & flavour combination had to be unpredictable. I also knew if we were to begin a start up company, it was our responsibility to do it in the most eco-friendly way.
What is cold pressed juice and why is it good for you?
The method of cold pressed juice extraction is very different from your average Breville home juicer. To put it simply, the cold press process is extremely gentle on fruit & vegetables allowing for a much greater portion of plant cells to remain intact. This creates a very stable, highly nutritious juice. Whereas your standard juicer generates a lot of heat in the cutting process which oxidises the juice & results in a loss of nutrients.
What do you believe sets Prodjuice apart from the other juices on the market?
From the outset we have made a conscious effort to be sustainable. We want to promote a healthy lifestyle, not just by what you put in, but by what you put out. We are 150% committed to using glass bottles. There are way too many plastic bottles still being manufactured out there – it makes me feel ill to think about it. Switching to glass bottles is the simplest step any beverage company can take to reduce it’s environmental footprint. We also take the time to compost all our juice pulp & at present we donate it to the Avalon community garden who are doing a wonderful job of putting it back in the land. We are also always growing and evolving our product line in accordance with the market. We now have soups & broths to give a “ warm” element to the business, & our tonic line is our answer to “ food as medicine”. In short, it’s through our iconic product line & commitment to sustainability that we have been able to set Prodjuice apart from the pack.
What inspires you to make more conscious choices for your growing business?
It’s our responsibility as a generation. Our parents didn’t grow up knowing the effects their consumerism would have on the planet, but we do. Now it has become our responsibility to use that knowledge to make conscious choices in every aspect of our lives, as well as in the education & example we set for future generations. Plus the fact that we are surrounded by an incredible community of people that have the knowledge and drive to execute what they know to make significant changes certainly makes it easier to sustain these movements – especially when your friends & family believe in it too!
Have you managed to embed sustainable thinking within your company?
Yes absolutely. Striving to create a more sustainable business practice through regular review of our processes has generated a more green focus within the company as a whole and also (unintentionally) within the individual staff members. Simple changes we have made are now considered the norm, such as accepting glass bottle returns for reuse, composting & packing only in cardboard. We are even working on a new 100% compostable insulated packaging. Overall there is now greater staff awareness and individually I have noticed changes with our own behaviours. For example our manager Maddy can be caught on any given afternoon lugging a box of plastic Chinese takeaway containers to her car to recycle at home (we receive frozen berries in these & sadly can’t get them delivered any other way). Maddy’s commitment to dispose of them correctly is so pleasing to witness. A beautiful example of how we can still do our best, even if the situation isn’t exactly perfect.
What is the biggest challenge you face professionally?
Growth & expansion… doing it all in the most ethical, responsible way, whilst keeping a smile on your face and still having time for your family & friends (oh &yourself)! It’s a lot, but I’ve learnt (it took a long while) to delegate & spread the load. If you’re not an expert at a certain area, get someone else to do it. It seems like a big outlay initially but it’ll pay you back ten fold in the long run.
Is there any advice you would offer to other small businesses seeking to create change?
Have a look at your business model. Choose 3 main things that stand out as damaging (either ethically or environmentally) then set about to rework these areas so they create less damage or even better no damage! Go slowly, there is no rush. It can be tricky to implement large changes quickly, so go easy & give the process time & commitment. Once these three areas have been addressed, start working on some more!
It’s also really nice to look at the business model & see how & where you can give back to the community as well. For example, this is what we’re up to in the community at the moment: as mentioned all our compost goes to Avalon community garden, we’re loving working alongside organisations like Living Ocean & Av green Team at their events, 5% of all our online sales during March are being donated to The Melanoma Institute, we regularly support Avalon Montessori School at their fundraising events and we’ll be speaking in May at a beautiful event for inspiring professional women run by Lets Connect Women in Palm Beach. All these little things are not only great for the brand, but they’re also great for networking & giving back. For everything positive you give out, something good always comes back to you.
What one thing have you done at Prodjuice to drive sustainability that others could replicate?
Packaging – this drives me crazy! If you are planning a start up & you have to package your product (and lets face it most “things” arrive packaged), take some time in the planning stages to research eco-friendly options. There are so many great & beautiful sustainable packaging concepts out there these days, why all new companies aren’t implementing them is beyond me. Hopefully one day this will become part of legislation.
What is you biggest concern about our ability to tread gently and create a more sustainable world?
Consumerism & the global corporate giants, they’ll be tough to beat. The best thing we can do is be small, shop small, act small. In the last 2 years I have given up all shopping at Woolworths (which used to be my daily go to). I think the only thing I buy there now is deodorant. I am currently looking for a good product to switch to so I don’t have to shop there at all, but I don’t beat myself up about that. It’s been a long process of slowly replacing each product with a more conscious alternative.
All my produce comes from the local farmers market or local organic shop (or work, I realise I am very lucky to always have a cool room full of organic produce). Dry goods like nuts, pasta & rice come from bulk stores like Scoop or The Source. I take along my big glass jars, fill them up & pop them straight in the pantry when I get home. The sense of leaving those stores with not one ounce of packaging is so fulfilling – my favourite shopping experience.
I buy toilet paper, paper towel & tissues online from Who Gives A Crap. Plus I buy all my cleaning products in bulk from Honest To Goodness.
We recently had my daughters 4th birthday party. Having been to a few parties recently I had noticed these events are an absolute land-mine for consumerism & single use goodies So when we came to planning ours, we went simple, no plastic & very low sugar. Each child had a glass jar to fill from our juice or water dispensers with a colourful paper straw. Pass the parcel was wrapped all in newspaper with no tape, & the prizes were little wooden beaded bracelets made by Edie herself or eco-wooden spinning tops. Instead of party bags at the end, each child took home a tiny compostable pot with a little tiny paper packet of seeds & a wooden paddle pop stick to stick in the pot which were labelled sunflower, sweet pea or marigold. We had no balloons or decorations, & do you know what, not a single child cared! All they cared about was running around with their friends & having a ball. Presents are always a tricky one… we have very few plastic toys in our house and I always try to keep it that way. So politely on the invitation I let everyone know that Edie has more than enough & gifts were not necessary. After all, do our children really need more? If they really wanted to give something, I simply asked for no plastic please & offered the idea of a second hand book or toy. Most parents were happy enough to oblige & hopefully this little request was enough to spark some thought in some of the other parents & children’s minds.
What changes have your family made outside of your work to tread more gently on this earth?
Obviously the way we shop, but also the more aware you become the more you want to help. We can’t walk anywhere now without Edie picking up a scrap of plastic and yelling ‘Mum…plastic”. So we’re always picking up rubbish & having our own little beach cleans.
How have you managed being a mum whilst also being the head of a start up?
This has been a really difficult one, & not necessarily something I would recommend to a new mum, or do again! In the beginning I was in an extremely difficult phase of my life & I think I used the business as a way to distract myself from everything that I was going through personally. Like most new businesses we battled through the first couple of years, determined to make it past the two year mark. I found that running the business began to feel much easier & flow took place once my own personal life had settled and healed. Things have really just gotten better and better since then, both at home & in business. I am absolutely sure both facets of life need to work in conjunction with one another for growth. The business has only gotten to this point with the love and support of my family & friends.
How has Prodjuice grown as a company already and what are your ongoing dreams for the business?
Wow to think about this is crazy. We started out so small. We’d make juice on three tiny little machines in Mum’s garage, pop them in the back of the car and drive straight to our local stockist. We now have a full scale commercial production facility & a team of over 12 staff running the show, plus stockists all over Sydney & a thriving online store. There are big plans for the next 12 months, some really really exciting things! But that’s all I can say about that for now…
How has your product been received by the public?
So well, we are so lucky to live in a community like this that embraces good health, good food & supports small enterprises.
Favourite Prodjuice flavour?
Favourite use of a Prodjuice flavour?
Turmeric tonic again. It’s such an incredible mix. I take it for all kind of reasons from skin or eye inflammation to gut health or fighting a cold & flu.
What is one thing you wish people knew about juice that most don’t?
The properties that raw natural foods hold is incredibly underestimated by the greater part of society. Good quality organic juice can be so potent & helpful. We have customers who come to us weekly for their immune shots to keep them healthy, they swear by this potent little antimicrobial mix to prevent illness, especially through winter.
We know that you are conscious of your own health and well being, what regular practices do you have for maintaining this?
Vedic meditation is my biggest practice. I aim to meditate twice daily (although I don’t beat myself up if it doesn’t happen). I learnt to meditate just after I had Edie & just before Prodjuice was thought up. In fact the name Prodjuice came to me in one of my very early meditations. It just appeared so clearly out of nowhere. There is no way I would have been able to manage a new baby & a start up simultaneously as a single mum without my meditative practice & as the business grows it continues to help keep me balanced.
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Prodjuice want to promote healthy living, not just by what you take in, but also what you put out, making the planet a better place for all. Visitprodjuice.com.au to shop their range of delicious broths, soups, tonics, juices and cleanses. Find inspiration on their Journal (an online blog) to be conscious about your own health, wellbeing and the environment.
Samuel Vincent | whitelanestudio.com