Our blog has moved!

We are very excited to announce that we have launched a new website! With this change we have incorporated our blog into the site and we will no longer be posting here.

Please visit our new website (the URL is the same): http://sailorsforthesea.org

To visit the blog – where you can view all of our old post, and many new ones visit: http://sailorsforthesea.org/blog

Thank you for following our blog and we hope you enjoy the new website!

The crew at Sailors for the Sea

If you would like to stay connected through social media we are active on:

Facebook, Twitter & Instagram


Trashy Beaches, and not the good kind.

Last week, Sailors for the Sea and 5GYRES met in Hull Cove in Jamestown, RI to train sailing instructors on how to teach with Rainy Day Kits – our environmental lesson plans focused on marine ecology that can be taught to students in sailing programs and other low resource environments. This blog features a new lesson plan, created by 5GYRES, to be available for download on our website later this month!

Program Director Annie Brett teaches sailing instructors about our newest Rainy Day Kit.

Program Director Annie Brett teaches sailing instructors about our newest Rainy Day Kit.

Ever heard of Alexander Parkes? In 1856, he patented the first man-made plastic and as a species we have never looked back. For more than 150 years of using plastic as a panacea for everything from vinyl siding for homes to exfoliates in face wash. Quite a bit of it has ended up in one of five locations: North Pacific, South Pacific, North Atlantic, South Atlantic and Indian ocean gyres. And these plastics are dangerous for the ocean environment. Not only is the trouble with sea life eating them or getting tangled, but plastics also accumulates chemical pollutants that can poison organisms.


An instructor sifting through sand looking for mircoplastic.

And the gyres are not the only ocean places where plastics accumulate. They can also be found locally. 5GYRES has designed an excellent new rainy day kit that will allow students to identify and quantify different wastes (including those other than plastic) found on your beach by walking and diving along transects, and sifting through sand. The goal is to collect as much debris as possible, while sorting and counting it according to size and type. This kit provides an excellent thinking point for how our use of plastic, and other disposable materials, can affect a larger environment and  cleans your local beach at the same time!


Debris removed from Hull Cove in Jamestown, RI

5GYRES is committed to stopping the accumulation of plastic pollution in the five subtropical ocean gyres through research and communication.

Personal Grooming Scrubs may be Harmful to Fish in the Great Lakes and Beyond

Image created by: The National Aquarium

Image created by: The National Aquarium

Today, I felt compelled to do a little detective work on my face wash. You might ask why would I do such a thing, and what does this have to do with Ocean Conservation?

Well the other day, Scientific American posted an article discussing the results of a startling survey conducted by the State University of New York at Fredonia. The Survey measured the plastic pollution in three of the Great Lakes (Huron, Superior and Erie). One of the most prevalent plastics found in the Lakes were small plastic beads a millimeter in diameter, known as micro plastic. These plastics are found in many personal grooming products as abrasives, such as face cleansers or body scrubs.The problem here is that the micro beads are so small that they can’t be filtered out and end up in our water ways. According to chemist Lorena Rios of the University of Wisconsin–Superior 1,500 to 1.7 million plastic particles per square mile were found by her team in the great lakes.

Great Lake in Michigan

These particles have the potential to block digestion in fish species and starve them of nutrients. Fortunately, this has not been seen in fish within the great lakes as of yet. In addition these plastics can easily absorb chemicals that can potentially affect species DNA, causing deformities. Finally these micro beads can stay in the environment for over 50 years. Further studies are currently being conducted to keep an eye on the potential of the pollutant.

In an effect to protect our waters I encourage you to investigate the personal grooming products you currently use. Using all natural products is suggested. Below you will find a few products that do not contain Plastic Micro beads that can be found at a local pharmacy.


Finally if you feel like this is not enough, feel free to support 5GYRES campaign by signing their petition- 

 “…I support the elimination of plastic polyethylene micro-beads in all personal care products and urge Procter & Gamble to take the environmentally responsible action of removing them from their products by no later than January 1st, 2015.”

See full Report at: Personal Grooming Products May Be Harming Great Lakes Marine Life

Vist to NEAQ

Yesterday, Sailors for the Sea staff traveled to the New England Aquarium in Boston for their World Oceans Day celebration! Hundreds of families visited, learning the importance of ocean conservation through hands on activities.

Sailors for the Sea staff demonstrating Rainy Day Kits!

Sailors for the Sea staff demonstrating Rainy Day Kits!

Sailors for the Sea staff taught kids and parents about sustainable seafood using two of our Rainy Day Kits, The Deadliest Catch & Sustainable Seafood Matching Game.

The Deadliest Catch is was a big hit amongst the crowd, thanks to the usage of candy to demonstrate overfishing. Kids are given an “ocean” (bowl) full of “fish” (swedish fish & skittles) and a fishing pole (a straw). In the first round, kids use the straw to suck up the candy and set it next to the bowl. After the first round students are allowed to eat their catch – and are asked… What do the fish left in the ocean do? The most common answer was swim away – but some guessed correctly that they would repopulate!

A young visitor tries to catch fish with his straw.

A young visitor tries to catch fish with his straw.

The joy on a kids face who did not catch very many fish was amazing, and those who had emptied their bowl were sadly reminded that 0 x 0 = 0. A second round allows kids to use a net (spoon) to more easily capture fish. Some discovered the concept that they could have a never ending candy bowl if they did not remove all the fish in the sea!



Once the concept of sustainable seafood is learned, kids played a version of memory with Sustainable Seafood Matching Game to learn which kind of fish they can are caught in a sustainable manner.

To download these lesson plans, click here. The plans are intended to be 30-60 minute activities and are ideal for learning about marine science and ocean health issues when you don’t have laboratory supplies. Almost every item you need can be printed out or bought at your local pharmacy!

Kids contemplating candy... parents thinking about if they eat sustainable seafood!

Kids contemplating candy… parents thinking about if they eat sustainable seafood!

New European Affiliate

Sailors for the Sea Portugal!

Sailors for the Sea Portugal officially signed in to action. On the left David Rockefeller, Jr. from Sailors for the Sea USA, middle Bernardo Corrêa de Barros from Sailors for the Sea Portugal and on the right Dan Pingaro from Sailors for the Sea USA.

Sailors for the Sea Portugal officially signed in to action. On the left David Rockefeller, Jr. from Sailors for the Sea USA, in the middle Bernardo Corrêa de Barros from Sailors for the Sea Portugal, and on the right Dan Pingaro from Sailors for the Sea USA.

While in Portugal this week, our Chief Executive Officer Daniel Pingaro and Chairman, David Rockefeller, Jr. met with a group of sailors dedicated to the environment to form a new Sailors for the Sea affiliate! Our first European affiliate will be based in the beautiful sailing town of Cascais. Sailors for the Sea is very excited for this expansion across the Atlantic and we look forward to working with our affiliate to grow our ocean conservation programs in Portugal.

Earth Day

Today marks the 43rd Earth Day and this year the focus is: Face of Climate Change. Since 71% of the earth is covered by the ocean – let’s take a quick look at what climate change is doing to our oceans.


Ocean Acidification
Did you know the ocean absorbs a lot carbon dioxide? In fact the daily intake is approximately 22 million metric tons. If you guessed that this is creating a problem, you are correct.  Often nicknamed “global warming’s evil twin,” ocean acidification is the changing of the pH balance of the ocean. The fundamental changes in seawater chemistry occurring throughout the world’s oceans is drawing more attention. An important case study on the effects of ocean acidification can be seen in the Pacific Northwest oyster hatcheries, which in the past few years had serious decline in production in an industry that accounts for more than $84 million of the West Coast shellfish industry and supports more than 3,000 jobs. Learn more about ocean acidification and how scientist and fisherman are working together to be able to keep the oyster industry running. Also read our past ocean watch essay on Ocean Acidification.

Coral Bleaching
Climate change impacts have been identified as one of the greatest global threats to coral reef ecosystems. As temperatures rise on land, our sea temperatures also get warmer. Particularly in tropic zones this has caused coral bleaching to become an all to common occurrence. When water becomes too warm, corals will expel the algae living in their tissues causing the coral to turn completely white.  When a coral bleaches, it is not dead, however they are under more stress and are subject to mortality. To learn more about coral reef’s in crisis, visit coralreefsystems.org and read our past Ocean Watch Essay, Assessing the Health of Coral Reefs.

What can you do?
While these problems can be daunting, an easy way to help reduce climate change is reducing your carbon footprint! Asses your carbon footprint and learn how you can help make a difference!

Map of Human Impacts to Marine Ecosystems

A Global Map of Human Impacts to Marine Ecosystems


This map, created by the National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis, is just an impressive (or scary) way to look at the ocean. Created back in 2008, we are wondering how much more red there would be on the map – and would there be any blue left? What do you think?

To learn more about how the map was made, click here.

Action alert from Pew Environmental Initiatives

Large swaths of New England’s protected waters—a combined area the size of Connecticut— could be reopened for fishing. These protected areas are important to species recovery and have been proven to grow fish population within and outside the protected area.

According to Pew “These closed areas were put in place following widespread overfishing and the collapse of fish populations in the 1990s, and were intended to protect juvenile fish, spawning areas and seafloor habitat. They also provide benefits to other species, including the critically endangered North Atlantic right whale, endangered humpback whales and harbor porpoises.”

Many feel that the species in this region have not fully recovered. Learn more about this issue and help keep these important waters protected by clicking here.

To learn more about overfishing read our past Ocean Watch Essay: Oceans Without Fish?

2 years of Rainy Day Kits!

A scaled up version of All the Glitters at the Newport America's Cup Wold Series. Kids & adults learned to "see like a fish" in the deep ocean.

A scaled up version of All the Glitters at the Newport America’s Cup Wold Series. Kids & adults learned to “see like a fish” in the deep ocean.

This January marks the second year of our Rainy Day Kits program! Since the programs inception 45,000 children have explored the ocean ecosystem with these hands on, interactive lesson plans. We have found that 55% of downloads come from sailing programs, and 45% from museums, camps, and schools. Showing the lesson plans diversity!

Rainy Day kits are informal, fun lesson plans that allow children to learn about marine ecology and ocean conservation without expensive laboratory materials. Lesson supplies can generally be found in an office, or purchased with a quick trip to staples. If you are very resourceful, you can collect some supplies right out of the recycling bin!

We have rounded up a few our favorite things involving Rainy Day Kits:

Our favorite lesson name: The Deadliest Catch
Our favorite lesson to teach: Dirty Water Challenge – get nice and muddy teaching kids about the water cycle!

Best quotes: From John O’Flaherty, Providence Community Boating: “The best way to protect the environment is to create little environmentalist. Rainy Day Kits from Sailors for the Sea drive  home today’s biggest ecological concepts to our smallest stakeholders. Out youths sailors will be seeing these kits in our lesson plans – rain or shine.”

Best picture:

Youth playing with Rainy Day Kits

Sailors at Ida Lewis Yacht Club learn about the water cycle with Dirty Water Challenge.

A big thanks to our contributors: Pew Environment Group, Scipps Institute of Oceanography, University of Miami’s R.J. Dunlap Marine Conservation Program, Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch, The Rozalia Project for a Clean Ocean, Hudson River Sloop Clearwater, the New England Aquarium, the Harte Institute for Gulf of Mexico Studies, and the Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science.
To download vist: http://sailorsforthesea.org/programs-and-projects/rainy-day-kits.aspx

2012 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.

Screen Shot 2013-01-03 at 11.38.31 AM

Here’s an excerpt:

600 people reached the top of Mt. Everest in 2012. This blog got about 12,000 views in 2012. If every person who reached the top of Mt. Everest viewed this blog, it would have taken 20 years to get that many views.

Click here to see the complete report.