Microplastic Fibers

Many of us know about the various plastics that float in the sea and the plastic bags that the wind drives across our streets and into waterways, but did you know about the tiny plastics within the clothes you wear?

Synthetic materials such as polyester, nylon and elastane release micro plastics that aren't able to be caught by the filters within washing machines and flow right into our water ways and oceans. The horror doesn't stop there, as these micro plastics are consumed by planktons and fishes and make their way up the food chain into our own meals and bodies. ACK!

According to one study, 

"They found that acrylic was the worst offender, releasing nearly 730,000 tiny synthetic particles per wash, five times more than polyester-cotton blend fabric, and nearly 1.5 times as many as polyester. These microfibres track through domestic wastewater into sewage treatment plants where some of the tiny plastic fragments are captured as part of sewage sludge. The rest pass through into rivers and eventually, oceans. A paper published in 2011 found that microfibres made up 85% of human-made debris on shorelines around the world. The impact of microplastic pollution is not fully understood but studies have suggested that it has the potential to poison the food chain, build up in animals’ digestive tracts, reduce the ability of some organisms to absorb energy from foods in the normal way and even to change the behaviour of crabs." ( See more here )

Instead, choosing natural fabrics such as cotton or linen for our clothing/bedding/etc makes a large difference in our consumerism and environmental impact. There are also many great companies that have started using recycled plastics for activewear and swimwear. All it takes is a little extra research of where our products are coming from and how they are made, and this way we have healthier materials for our own bodies as well as for the environment around us, eventually impacting the food we eat. Some brands shared by our mermaid friend Kate Nelson (@plasticfreemermaid) include @econylbrand and @arnhem_clothing. There are plenty more where that comes from, and a great place to start are sustainable companies such as @shopearthhero that make sure to be as conscious as possible in their retail work. 

Please check out a few of these companies, share any other methods to be a conscious consumer that work for you, and be mindful in all of your everyday decisions and impacts because even if they don't seem to be a big deal... they often are (no matter how small they seem, like micro plastics!)

Best Fishes,

Aqua Ally

 

If you cannot do great things, do small things in a great way. While it may seem small, the ripple effects of small things is extraordinary.
— Unknown

4Ocean, their bracelets, and coral restoration

Long time no sea!

It has been quite the last few months for me, but now I'm back for some more ocean talk with all of you mermaids!

My recent plastic-free discovery is none other than 4Ocean and their great campaign to reduce plastic waste in our ocean. It all started with two surfers, Alex and Andrew, who became troubled with the overwhelming amount of plastic pollution in our ocean. They started their own non-profit where they sell bracelets made from recycled plastic trash, and with each purchase they remove a pound of trash from the ocean. In their first year alone, they removed over 250,000 pounds of trash from the ocean and coastlines. They take any and all volunteers willing to help pick up trash through beach cleanups, in their boats, or diving down while snorkeling in order to help their cause. 

Not only do they inspire me with their dedication to limiting plastic pollution, but they also have teamed up with the Coral Restoration Foundation whose goal is to plant and restore coral reefs as well as educating youth on coral reefs and how to protect them. In this time of growing fossil fuel emissions and climate change that drastically has affected our reefs, we need to work to restore them now more than ever. 

If you're interested in either of these volunteer projects in cleaning our oceans or helping to restore them, checkout the 4Ocean page and the Coral Restoration website to see the best way to start helping out. Also, since education is the first step to making a difference here, make sure to share these resources with friends and family!

Best Fishes,

Aqua Ally

 

The rest of the living world can get along without us, but we can’t get along without them.
— Sylvia Earle

Cow Contribution to Methane Gas Emissions

It's pretty rare that you find an idea that will make both environmentalists and economists happy, but today I came across one about none other than: cows and their production of methane gas. Methane gas is considered a "greenhouse gas," being one of the gasses that contributes to fossil fuel emissions that are harmful for the environment. Every time cows burp or fart, they emit methane into the air. According to my source, cows emit 7 billion metric tons of methane gas into the atmosphere each year, which is more than both car travel and airplane travel combined. 

Scientists have recently come up with a solution: KELP. 

When dried kelp (specifically Asparagopsis Taxiformis, a red seaweed) is added to cow food, methane gas production can be stopped up to 99%. Not only does this addition significantly aid in fossil fuel emissions, but it is a healthy food for cows to consume as well. 

Luckily, kelp mariculture is increasing in popularity, yet much more will have to be produced in order to fully provide for the cow population. Kelp farming is simple and sustainable if practiced correctly, and if you wish to learn about how that can be done, visit the Kelp Sustainable Farming blog post on our website. Adding kelp to the ocean to be farmed is an incredible system as the kelp helps to protect coastlines and helps to maintain a balanced ecosystem. This makes environmentalists happy as it is a step forward in our fight against climate change while also improving cow health for those profiting from that business. 

Finding solutions like these that leave everyone happy are rare, but when we find them we must act upon them and take advantage of the opportunity. We must strive for healthy balance in this world, as it is the common denominator in how Mother Nature succeeds.

Best Fishes,

Aqua Ally

Balance is the key to everything. What we do, think, say, eat, feel... they all require awareness and through this awareness we can grow.
— Koi Fresco

Plastic Free July: Experiences Shared

Here we are: July 31. Plastic Free July is coming to a close and what a successful month it has been! For those of you who participated, congratulations! Whether you simply cut out plastic bags, went topless for the sea (no coffee cup tops!), refused straws or brought your own reusable cups, or went full blown plastic-free... you did great! We are so proud of you. It doesn't end here, though, Whether you participated this month or not, you do not have to constrict your awareness to only one month of the year. Please, try to keep up the good work as much as you can throughout the entire year. I can guarantee that this lifestyle not only produces cleaner oceans and happier animals, but also cleaner bodies and happier minds due to the sometimes poor diet that goes with plastic-wrapped items. The more we spread this information to our friends and families and work on ourselves as individuals the better this plastic epidemic will become. 

Thank you to all of you who have shared your stories. Post on Instagram, Facebook, or send us an email explaining your progress. We would love to hear from you and have loved what we have seen so far. Below we will share some of the stories that we have heard that have inspired us.

One from our very own Save The Mermaids Team:

"A FETTUCCINE STIR! -We want to divert plastic and wooden sticks from ending in our landfills so we provide fettucine instead.-
1) Break fettuccine stick to appropriate length for your cup. 
2) Stir vigorously.
3) Discard used fettuccine in the compost bin provided.
4) Exclaim "Mamma Mia!" So cheers to drinking morning coffee ☕️ and starting off the day right, energetic, with some giggles, and love for our world."

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An inspiring post from Instagram user @bettiemarmalade:

"I got a little more wise and started carrying a coffee thermos with me at work, and my dear friend got me a reusable straw that I carry with me everywhere! It got easy as saying no straw when I order drinks at a restaurant. My biggest struggle was bulk items at grocery stores, I put all my quinoa and lentils in my own jars, and was told at the register that next time I'm not allowed to do that for 'health code reasons.' It was really disappointing considering one of this stores pillars are environmental awareness. I wrote a letter to the corporate urging them to consider environmentally friendly options for their bulk items. I'm so glad I took part in this pledge. I've learned so much and I enjoy how much my habits and lifestyle changed. I get all my fruits and vegetables from the farmers market now with my own reusable bags, and I've been inspired to plant my own garden! Using little to no plastic became surprisingly easy and I will definitely continue this pledge everyday." 

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From traveler @socalibeachgirl:

"I was able to reduce my plastic use to one bag for the latter half of the month. This has involved some simple choices such as purchasing items in cardboard containers as opposed to plastic containers or buying items in no container whatsoever (fruits and veggies). Also, I travel a lot for work and pleasure and make it a point to always refill my stainless steel bottle before departure. This also saves money! Those singe-use plastic bottles at the airport are not cheap and typically amount to nothing more than glorified tap water! In flight, I simply ask the flight attendant to refill my bottle. Little changes add up :)."

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Words of wisdom from @cleanseafuture:

"Last day of #plasticfreejuly. Tomorrow's the first day of #plasticfreeaugust. Keep going! When it all seems to get a bit too much, or you have those moments of wondering whether it's all worth it, sit back and reflect on why you began in the first place. Take a walk on the beach, a park or near a river and remember what's important. Mother Nature provides us with a beautiful home and it is our responsibility to take care of it. So keep going, keep spreading the word and keep believing."

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@lugoesblue shares an ocean-friendly makeup shop:

"The waste-free bathroom makeover continues! Went for a little shopping spree at @therefillshoppe in Ventura. They have refillable bottles and bulk natural beauty products. You choose your bottle, choose your product and you can even build a scent with essential oils and fragrances!"

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Some great household cleaning tips from @rocket_science:

"Replace your cleaning products with vinegar and water! I refill my spray bottle with homemade orange vinegar solution. Just soak orange rinds in white vinegar for a few days and add water to the mixture (50:50) to use as a cleaning spray. Replace the chemicals in your house with this simple DIY cleaning spray. It's especially good for people with children, pets, and allergies. You can refill your white vinegar at bulk buy stores and reuse your old spray bottles! It's also a great way to reuse orange rinds. Zero waste for the win!"

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Cute story from @magicindigoventures:

"Eatin with butter knifes? Why? To avoid the alternative plastic spoons. Yeah, gotta get myself some convenient go-to utensils. In the meantime it's easy to use regular silver wear of course., it's just a habit thing to bring them with ya. As you see, I'm still working on that. It's okay. Be kind to your own "retraining." It makes for some creative solutions, like... Eatin with butter knifes! Why not!"

(Reusable bamboo utensils can be found on this website)!!

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@themermaidmamma gave tips for ways to minimize:

"

  • Swap your plastic dish brushes with Eco friendly ones such as bamboo dish brushes and biodegradable and recyclable bottle brushes.
  • Use mushroom bags at the grocery store instead of plastic bags they offer!
  • Say NO to plastic straws!  (Need convincing? Here is a video)
  • Be a natural beauty! Give up some makeup.
  • Buy less and when you do, buy secondhand!
  • Say NO to styrofoam and other plastic to-go containers and simply bring your own when you get takeaway food!
  • Make your own natural toothpaste from baking soda and coconut oil! Add peppermint drops to make it minty fresh and store it in a little glass jar."

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Over the past 31 days, we have seen great progress in each and every one of you. Thank you for participating and posting your experiences as well as tips for others. You're an inspiration and part of the solution. Keep up the good work and keep sharing the ocean love with others so they can hop on the mindful, plastic-free bandwagon too. The ocean and turtles will thank you, and so will your children when they have an ocean to explore when they're your age instead of a plastic-filled junkyard. We GOT THIS! It doesn't have to be perfect, and it probably won't be. Its a process and there will be ups and downs but all we can do is give our best effort. Keep sharing your stories with us!!

Best Fishes, 

Aqua Ally

If four things are followed— having great aim, acquiring knowledge, hard work, and perseverance - then anything can be achieved.
— Abdul Kalam

Kelp Sustainable Growth & Usage

Have you ever wondered what the secret ingredient was that made your teeth shine? That made your hair glisten? That made your skin youthful and healthy? (Yes, it's kelp!)

Kelp is used in our toothpastes, cosmetics, medicines, salads, glass production, ice cream, jellies, and can yield resources such as methane and ethanol. 

For these products, kelp is harvested in its natural habitat in order to be distributed. There are an incredible amount of benefits to the processes in sustainable mariculture. Kelp produces oxygen for us (over 50% of our world's oxygen comes from the OCEAN) through photosynthesis, and absorbs chemicals such as nitrogen, phosphorous and carbon dioxide which are too plentiful in our coastal system. It provides habitats for fishes and mollusks while protecting coastlines from erosion. 

In order to harvest kelp in a sustainable fashion, one must follow guidelines regarding the placement of the open-water farm and everything from that point onward. Some of the conditions to finding a good farm location include: current strength, nutrient amount, protection from storms, limited use from commercial fisheries that could overuse the resources, specific depths, not in habitats that would endanger species, and far enough from state-owned piers or structures. 

A key factor in farming sustainably is not including pesticides, antibiotics and pollutants to this process, or else there could be more harm than good. The whole point of kelp mariculture is to provide local products that are useful and renewable while still restoring the ocean instead of taking away from it. 

Ama Sea Beauty, a Santa Barbara local cosmetics store and "Pharmersea" that farms sustainable seaweed, is a perfect example of what we should be striving toward. Inspired by Bren Smith and Green Wave, Ama Sea has produced a 25-acre ocean farm off the California coast with all green, clean, sustainable, and local aspects. With this farm, they are able to provide the public with healthy kelp-based products while remaining on the Ocean's side. 

In Antoinette Marquez's novel The Longevity Revolution: Thalasso Therapy, she explains the history behind using the sea as a health resource and how we apply this to kelp mariculture. She gives sustainability advice, such as to only gather seaweed at the lowest tide and only the pieces that are already detached as to not disrupt the life cycle. In California, we are able to harvest up to 17 pounds a day without a license. This kelp can be used in baths, foods, and skin routines to improve aging and overall health. Once the kelp is collected, it must be dried (3-5 hours). The kelp used for food should be at least 10 meters from the shore when found. Depriving the kelp of oxygen forces it to let go of its gooey internal material that works all of the magic. Other forms of thalasso therapy include beach walks, swims, and floating. It's simple yet effective. Check out the book linked above for more detailed information!

The goal of these ocean farms is to restore ecosystems in the face of climate change that have devastated kelp forests while producing products and jobs, and relying on a blue-green economy rather than one that focuses on fossil fuels. This kind of innovative thinking is what leads our society to clean energy, clean fertilizers, healthier products, restorative methods, and supporting local economies. In order to make a difference in the health of the ocean, we have to adjust our thought processes in such a way that allows us to move forward in both our economy and the conservation of the environment rather than one or the other.

Best Fishes,

Aqua Ally

 

Sustainable development is the pathway to the future we want for all. It offers a framework to generate economic growth, achieve social justice, exercise environmental stewardship and strengthen governance.
— Ban Ki-moon

Silly Fun Facts

Today we tend to focus on the craziness and sadness that is going on with our beautiful Ocean. We talk about the coral bleaching, the fossil fuel emissions, the pollutants, and everything else. These topics are incredibly important and it's beneficial for us to educate ourselves and others on them, but sometimes we need to step back and remember the happy things that made us fall in love with the ocean in the first place. It's these fun facts that make kids fall in love and want to protect the ocean forever. It's the inspiration that forms from them that acts as fuel in a child's brain to come up with the most mind blowing solutions we never thought of before. So, here goes.

  • Jellyfish have been alive for so long that they outdate sharks and dinosaurs.

  • Ever heard of the saying "sleep with one eye open"? Well, Dolphins literally sleep using half their brain so the other half can be active and alert.

  • An Octopus has THREE hearts and has blue blood.

  • A blue whale sounding is 188 decibels, making it the loudest sound produced by an animal.

  • Some animals, such as oysters, can change genders in order to mate more effectively. This is called hermaphroditism.

  • Celebrating Father's Day? Well, if you're going to celebrate Fathers... the sea horse wins father of the year. It is the only animal in which the male gives birth and carries the young instead of the female.

  • Ever have to make the choice between using your head or your heart to make a decision? Shrimp don't have this problem, their heart is in their head!

  • Turtles live on every continent except Antarctica 

  • If you were to take all of an Electric Eel's electricity, you would have the power to light up 10 electric bulbs.

  • Ocean tides are caused by the Earth rotating while the Moon and Sun’s gravitational pull acts on ocean water.

  • The name “Pacific Ocean” comes form the Latin name Tepre Pacificum, “peaceful sea”.

  • The deepest known area of the Earth’s oceans is known as the Mariana Trench. It’s deepest point measures 11km.

  • About 70% of the oxygen we breathe is produced by the oceans.

  • We have only explored about 5% of the world’s oceans.

  • The Great Barrier Reef can be seen from the moon!

  • 94% of life on Earth is aquatic, which makes us land-creatures seem a little less important now, doesn't it?

  • The Mid-Oceanic Ridge is the longest mountain range on Earth and is underwater! It exists in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean and into the Indian and Pacific oceans. It runs more than 35,000 miles long, has peaks higher than those in the Alps and it comprises 23 percent of the Earth’s total surface.

  • Chemosynthesis is a similar process to photosynthesis, except no sunlight is required. Organisms living near hydrothermal vents on the deep sea floor use this process to convert hydrothermal water into sugars needed for life.

  • Cephalopods such as the Octopus are able to camouflage themselves into their surroundings with little chromatophores on their skin. Check This Out! 

  • An Octopus's speed never exceeds that of the surrounding waves

  • Squid is very particular in what colors and behaviors it possesses. When trying to mate with a female, they will produce a warm brown color, but will show a white color and aggressive behavior to other males

  • Oceans have lakes and rivers that exist underwater. These may occur, according to NOAA, due to seawater seeping into thick layers of salt. This forces the salt to dissolve and creates depressions in the seafloor with denser bodies of water surrounding it. 

  • There are even hidden waterfalls in the ocean!

 

I hope you enjoyed these as much as I did. Never stop exploring the fun and magic that is the OCEAN!

Best Fishes,

Aqua Ally

 

There is great power in making a journey with a deep purpose, but any journey can be further deepened by seeking a broader perspective. The path needs more light: To shine the light of your own natural curiosity into the world can reveal wonders.
— Phil Cousineau