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The Life Changing Impact of Environmental Science Youth Camp On Catalina Island

Just eighteen miles off the coast of Los Angeles lay Santa Catalina Island, one of the largest island nature reserves in the world. With over 74 square miles of breathtaking landscape, Catalina Island is one of the most valuable natural resources in California.

Mountain and Sea Adventures (MSA) has been running youth programs on the island since 1998, and continues to bring thousands of students from around the Southwest to Catalina Island every year. Spending time in this beautiful ecological preserve gives youth a personal first-hand experience of the natural world, and from there – a personal appreciation and love develops. If it is true that we only preserve what we love, then MSA’s program is instrumental in providing the very experiences which inspire that very love for the natural environment in their hearts.

The Splendid Natural Beauty and Wonder of Emerald Bay

MSA runs their program at one of the most desirable and ecological diverse coves on Catalina Island, Emerald Bay. The facilities are just as impressive as the scenic beauty both inside and outside the beautiful emerald colored water. Resources such as the Pennington Marine Science Center, which has a salt water aquarium with displays of all the major ecosystems surrounding Emerald Bay, as well as multiple touch tanks, microscope labs and classrooms.

Surrounding Emerald Bay is the natural beauty of the ecological reserve, maintained by the Catalina Island Conservancy, with endless scenic views of untouched island coastline, rolling chaparral hills, and an abundance of wildlife such as Catalina Island Fox (endemic only to this island), mule deer, bison, and a wide variety of marine and terrestrial birds, including bald and golden eagles, red-tailed hawks, ravens, and rare migratory birds that travel thousands of miles such as arctic terns.

Why Children Love Environmental Science

One of the reasons Catalina Island is such a popular and desirable location to take groups and classes for the camp experience is because it is just remote enough to feel like they have left the country (kids often times think this!), but yet they are still in a safe, protected and well-connected, yet rustic location.

Camp is a safe place where students can let their guard down and just ‘be kids’. They are free to play and discover how fun and exciting the world of natural science really is! Camp program is always an adventure, and the line between ‘academic’ and ‘recreational’ time becomes less and less clear. That is because learning is fun, and all it takes is placing children in the right conditions for that realization to take place for them.

Outdoor Education Imparts A Love For The Natural Environment

When ‘play time’ becomes ‘learning time’, and vice versa, students are ready to apply themselves and participate in the outdoor educational program activities with greater interest and enjoyment, and therefore gain much more from it. With this total interest, students are immersed into their environment, and with the tools given to them during the lecture phase by their instructor – they are able to observe and interact with their surroundings like true field biologists.

Such full immersion into the awe-inspiring beauty of an ecological preserve like Catalina Island imparts the type of appreciation and love for the environment that transforms the student’s perspective for life.

Outdoor education is unique in its capacity to ignite a love for the environment, not only do students immerse themselves in the great outdoors through the activities, but they are taught valuable information regarding the various animals they may encounter, as well as a method for observing, recording data and studying them.

Students are both fully immersed and fully attentive, learning to observe their environment like field scientists. They then take their observations back to their outdoor classroom and develop testable hypothesis. In this way, the scientific method becomes a tool for taking their personal immersion into the natural world deeper and deeper.

Protecting What We Love

With such a rich personal experience of the natural world, students are often moved towards increasing their efforts to be more environmentally conscious and friendly. Those experiences at camp become deeply cherished memories, resulting in a deep love for these preserved places in nature. The vital importance of conserving them becomes increasingly more apparent.

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How To Build Intrigue For Environmental Science In The Heart Of Your Students!

Children love to play, but what if they could be taught to play in a way that enriches their encounters with the natural world and empowers them to bring their imaginative creations and thoughts to life!

Science is the bridge between fantasy and reality. The imagination is the first and most important laboratory for any scientist, no matter what their field of expertise. It is in the imagination of the scientist that the most important data, the results to experiments, and other various factors are put to the test.

The truth is, science is where the wonder that comes so naturally to children is kept alive, and is the platform that allows that wonder to be sustained and truly blossom. Science in and of itself is exciting enough as it is, a science teacher does not need to do so much to make science more exciting, they only need to reveal to their students that when they wake up to seeing the magnificence of the natural world around them, there is truly nothing more exciting than science!

The scientific method is a model for absorbing your self completely in the natural world, developing a more sensitive and acute perception of nature, and intensifying your interactions with that through heightened awareness, sustained observation, and controlled experimentation.

Science Is The Ultimate Platform For Imaginative Exploration

One of the first lessons that inspire students to think outside the box regarding the world of science is the understanding that science is fueled by, and facilitated by a strong and active imagination. Especially in the modern context of particle physics, quantum mechanics, string theories, etc., a vivid imagination is more important that ever.

Many of the greatest and most profound discoveries in the field of science were first born in the imaginations of the minds of the individual scientists, who then experimented and applied their abstract mental visions to the practical material world.

This process of experimenting and observing the results of your own visions is about as exciting as bringing the make believe world of fantasy into the living breathing dimension of reality! Imagine the thrill of scientifically proving that a vision you had in your imagination is accurate, tangible and real!

Learning How To Observe And Think For Your Self

A scientist is taught to ask questions, and to use deductive reasoning to separate fact from fiction. Each individual observer is urged to stand on their own two feet and use their own mental faculties to derive their own personal conclusions.

This is incredibly important for the intellectual development of each individual student. Rather than merely memorizing facts and regurgitating the same information that was spoon fed to them, students learn how to view things objectively, how to organize and process information, and to observe and scrutinize the testable factors through controlled experimentation.

The World Is Your Field Science Laboratory

Once the first epiphany regarding the intellectually empowering aspects of science has been realized, the student of natural sciences now begins to perceive and experience the world around them differently. Now they are able to fully utilize the potential of the human brain, and tune the instrument of their mind to perceive the patterns in nature to subtler and finer degrees.

When one learns to observe their natural surroundings from the perspective of a field biologist, the endless wonder and excitement of life is ever present. It is this very sense of wonder that is the natural domain of the scientist, who uses this wonder and curiosity to explore and derive their own logical explanations and physical demonstrations.

Developing and Proving Your Own Scientific Theories

The scientific method is nothing less than the process of bringing the dimension of abstract mental thought to concrete material reality. One completely immerses themselves in the observation of patterns and interrelationships between the various factors influencing the object of their research. Once enough data has been collected and analyzed, one can begin deriving his or her own conclusions by utilizing the greatest tool for any scientist, the imagination.

In the imagination of the scientist various possible theories are developed. The scientist will test a theory by formulating various hypothesis, a projected result or expectations, and updating it with the results of various experiments.

When a hypothesis has been adequately tested and proven, it then becomes a theory.

These terms are often times confused; yet they are each a separate phase of the scientific method, and their purpose should be well understood…

Fact: Observations regarding an aspect of the world around us. Such as: “It’s hot outside.”

Hypothesis: A possible explanation for an occurrence, pattern or phenomenon made as a departure point for further experimentation. Example: “It’s hot outside because the sun is out.”

Theory: A proposed conclusion with substantial proof derived from applying the scientific method, and validated through observation and experimentation. Example: “When the sun is out, it tends to make it hot outside.”

Law: A final statement based on continued experimental observations that explain some phenomenon of nature. A law involves a description about how something, but not necessarily why it happened. Example: Newton’s First Law of Motion.

The best way you can impart a passion for natural science in your students is to fuel your own passions and interests first and foremost. The more excited you get about science, the more you are able to convey the true spirit of science to your pupils.

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Building World Changers! MSA’s Life-Changing Outdoor Educational Programs

Break Your Fears!

The main motto at Mountain and Sea Adventures (MSA) is “break your fears”! We encourage youth to face their fears and inhibitions and take action steps towards overcoming them. When youth realize they can achieve what ever they set their focus on, it empowers them to have the courage to set dreams and goals, and work diligently towards achieving them.

Fear is natural, and is there to protect us, however some fears are rational, whereas others are not. Being afraid is okay, but being controlled and making your life decisions based on that fear is detrimental towards reaching our full potential in many ways.

Being courageous is the main character trait we focus on because it is the value we use to develop all the others. In the process of developing perseverance, honesty, and other altruistic traits, we must take up courage again and again.

Imparting Character and High Self Esteem

Going beyond what you previously thought was possible for your self is very empowering and uplifting, and reminds you that you truly can achieve what ever you set your goals on.

Camp gives students the structured opportunities to overcome fear and aversion, and the experiences that improve their self-image and esteem. They return to their home environments with a renewed sense of self worth and confidence.

Dream Big and Reach For The Stars!

Each of us is capable of achieving greatness. One of the most courageous acts of all is to truly believe in your self, reach for that greatness and refuse to settle for less. To let our natural talents blossom and give fruit, require a certain amount of self-love and acceptance.

MSA’s highly inspirational youth camp programs impart the experiences that build high self-esteem and develop a healthy amount of self-love. From here, the sky is the limit!

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5 Fun And Incredible Facts About Dolphins!

Dolphins are among natures most beautiful and intelligent animals. Humans have always seemed to have a kindred connection with dolphins, and they also seem to take a keen interest in us, as well.

Here are five fun and incredible facts about our playful cetacean friends!

#1) Culture and Social Structure

Dolphins are extremely smart animals that also display social structure and culture, something that was long believed to be unique only to human beings. Pods are matriarchal, with the eldest grandmother being the head of the pod.

Dolphin pods can be told apart from each other by learning to detect small nuances in their clicks and whistles, which is a part of their communication patterns. These nuances are similar to accents in human beings, and display that dolphins have a similar aspect to their own ‘language’.

#2) Dolphins Use Tools for Hunting!

Dolphins have been seen teaching their young how to use tools, such as sponges, which they cover their sensitive snouts with to protect them while foraging for food.

#3) A Dolphin Language!

Dolphins have developed many highly evolved forms of communication. They use what is known as a “signature whistle” that allows each individual to recognize each other.

#4) Dolphins are Compassionate and Altruistic Animals!

Dolphins have been known to help and rescue injured humans in their greatest hour of distress. They have also been known to help other injured and weak dolphins to the surface to breath. Their compassion is not limited only to other dolphins. There are many examples of times when dolphins have helped humans and even whales.

#5) Dolphins Love To Play And Goof Off!

Dolphins have always been known to be extremely fun-loving, playful and even curious animals. They often times play-fight with each other and also play games with seaweed. Dolphins even love to play with other animals such as dogs.

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Empowering World Changers! MSA’s Core Character Building Values

Campers encourage each other to overcome their inhibitions to the unfamiliar world of snorkeling!

Campers encourage each other to overcome their inhibitions to the unfamiliar world of snorkeling!

When teachers bring their students to science camp at Mountain and Sea Adventures, they are giving them the opportunity to explore sides of themselves they have never known about, to develop various altruistic character traits, and to build high self-esteem by overcoming fears and challenges.

Break Your Fears!

The central theme and core character trait that the MSA staff is constantly imparting to campers is to rise above your fears and inhibitions, and take a leap of courage. Campers are continually being reminded to discern between rational and irrational fears, and to not allow our fears to control our lives. Fear is natural, but rather than giving in to fear and allowing it to dictate our lives, the MSA staff models and guides youth to face their challenges and take command.

Perseverance – Never Give Up!

Perseverance is the second character trait we focus on during the campers time at camp. During this time, campers are given the opportunity to try many outdoor activities that they may be hesitant to try.

189208_155722647838104_582811_nActivities such as snorkeling, kayaking and going down the zip-line all take youth to the edge of their comfort zone, and beyond. Upon proving to themselves that they can achieve what they previously thought they couldn’t, they receive a boost of self confidence and their self esteem is strengthened.

Some of the activities are straining and present a challenge, during these times of challenge the students are encouraged by the MSA staff to persevere and focus on their objective.

Environmental Stewardship

From the moment students step off the ferry and arrive to camp at Emerald Bay, Catalina, they begin to experience the natural beauty of one of the largest ecological preserve islands in the world.

We encourage the students to become increasingly more and more aware of their surroundings, and to appreciate the precious resource that is the ocean environment.

MSA provides youth with first-hand experiences of the ocean. Experience is the key to developing the awareness for the marine environment that becomes a love and resolve for protecting and preserving this most vital of natural resources.

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How To Prepare Your Students to Visit Science Camp

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Students stepping off the ferry and coming to MSA camp at Emerald Bay, Catalina Island.

One of the most important things a good scientist does is observe. Observation is instrumental in making discoveries about the natural world. With careful and deliberate examination, a scientist can uncover the mysteries of how nature operates. Since children are excellent observers, science is innately interesting to them. As a teacher, you can provide your students with opportunities to learn about the environment simply by exposing them to it.

When your students attend our marine biology science camp, they will learn about the environment on and around Catalina Island. To prepare them for their visit, you can guide them to start thinking like scientists.

Priming The Imagination With Questions

One way you can do this is to ask them questions to pique their curiosity about what they will see while they attend the camp. What kinds of species do they think they will see? What types of behaviors will they potentially observe? Why do they think the animals behave in those ways? What do they most hope to learn about while at camp? The more you get your students questioning, the more they will want to learn. Fueling students’ natural desire to know about their surroundings is the best way to help them want to keep learning.

You might also do a class project about a topic related to marine biology before your class attends the camp. Incorporate mini-lessons around a theme connected to topics they’ll learn about at camp, and your students will learn academic skills as well as want to keep learning about marine biology.

When your students arrive at marine biology camp, they will get to see in person what you’ve been discussing in class. They will be ready to ask questions about their natural environment, to observe, and to make hypotheses about what they see. Asking good questions to guide observation is important for scientists, and with some preparation, your students will be ready to make the most of their visit to the island. They will be able to work as scientists do to conduct their own field research and to answer their own questions about nature.

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How To Impart A Passion For Environmental Stewardship In Your Students

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Student points to a female Sheepshead fish at the aquariums at MSA’s camp at Emerald Bay, Catalina Island.

Environmental stewardship is taking responsibility for the environment to improve its quality when affected by the actions of people. The important concept is the sense of shared responsibility or put another way, to take care of one’s home. Relating it in this way makes it easier to understand because it appeals to a basic sense of duty. These feelings can be enhanced by creating a sense of appreciation and gratitude. These are strong emotions that can be harnessed by youth leaders to motivate children and adolescents.

Environmental stewardship involves fostering the development of several core values and beliefs. A sense of all humans being a part of the environment is essential. The actions of people can have impacts both locally and globally. For children, it is also important that they understand their future role as stewards of the environment.

WHAT MOTIVATES THE YOUTH

To engage children and adolescents in environmental stewardship, it is helpful to consider what motivates children in general. One way to do this is to foster a sense of gratitude. A study by Jeffrey Froh and colleagues found that following a gratitude program encouraged children to help others and use their strengths to help society. Researchers also found that the positive outcomes of a gratitude practice lasted beyond the teaching period. These findings suggest that an appreciation for the environment can be a long-term practice for youth.

Another way to engage youth involves tapping into the emotions already instilled in them. Another study by Froh and colleagues looked at the attitudes of kindness and appreciation in children 5 to 10. The participants named five acts of kindness. The common theme among all ages was the act of helping an injured friend. Children aged 5 to 6 also cited helping to clean as an act of kindness. With older children, empathy and an increasing sense of appreciation became apparent. This study suggests that the motivation for doing kind acts exists in children. The job of educators and youth leaders is to steer these innate feelings to the environment and strengthen the connection with appreciation.

ENGAGING YOUTH

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Campers look at live samples of plankton taken during the trawl in their previous activity.

There are several ways that educators can motivate youth to engage in environmental stewardship. Hands-on activities give children the chance to examine nature up-close. These activities can include anything from simple clean-up projects to long-term activities such as monitoring stream conditions. Putting children in charge of these types of tasks creates a sense of ownership and self-monitoring.

It is also essential for children to understand the impact of everyday actions. Practices such as recycling or litter clean-up help youth understand that they can have a positive impact on the environment. Stewardship of a project like a rain garden helps children see the effects of their actions, further empowering them. The key is showing children their actions have a direct impact on the environment.

SUCCESS STORIES

North East Trees

The North East Trees of Los Angeles offers a good example of using environmental stewardship to reach at-risk-youth while providing skills that can lead to future employment. Founded in 1989, the program’s mission is simply stated: “To restore nature’s services in resource challenged communities, through a collaborative resource development, implementation, and stewardship process.” The organization has made many accomplishments. During its tenure, members have planted over 90,000 trees and built over 35 parks, mini-parks, trails, street and access gateway improvements while employing hundreds of youths.

Thorne Nature Experience

The Thorne Nature Experience in Boulder, Colorado teaches core values of environmental stewardship while also fostering inclusiveness and leadership among youth. Founded in 1954, the organization has reached out to more than 250,000 children and adults. Programs focus on education and strategies for solving environmental problems. It is a leader in environmental organizations and has helped create other agencies, such as The Colorado Field Office of The Nature Conservancy and the Audubon Society of Greater Denver. It offers a wide variety of programs, including summer camps, in-school programs, and special programs like its Bird Banding Club for youth ages 11 to 15.

The Nature Conservancy

Since its founding in 1951, the Nature Conservancy has broadened its scope of environmental stewardship to 69 countries. Its values of non-confrontational, pragmatic solutions based in science can easily be incorporated in youth programs. Among its accomplishments is protecting over 119 million acres of land and thousands of miles of rivers.

The organization empowers educators and thus, youth, through several programs. In 2015, for example, the Nature Conservancy awarded grants to 50 schools to develop school gardens as outdoor science learning labs. They give a hands-on learning opportunity for youth to understand environmental goals such as increasing biodiversity and improving pollinator habitat. Projects like these give youth the opportunity to practice good environmental stewardship at school.

The organization also runs a youth internship program called Leaders in Environmental Action for the Future (LEAF). Besides providing opportunities to engage in science-based environmental stewardship, the program helps adolescents improve their self-confidence and sense of independence for benefits that go well beyond the environment.

By tapping into the psychology of youths, educators can engage young people in environmental stewardship programs that offer benefits outside of the classroom. Children can learn to appreciate the environment and the role they play in it both in the present and the future.

WORKS CITED

“50 Schools across Nation Receive ‘Nature Works Everywhere’ Grants | The Nature Conservancy.” 50 Schools across Nation Receive ‘Nature Works Everywhere’ Grants | The Nature Conservancy. The Nature Conservancy, 11 Jan. 2016. Web. 11 Mar. 2016.

Froh, Jeffrey J., Giacomo Bono, and Robert Emmons. “Being Grateful Is beyond Good Manners: Gratitude and Motivation to Con.” Tribute to Society among Early Adolescents. Motivation and Emotion, 30 Apr. 2010. Web. 11 Mar. 2016.

North East Trees. http://northeasttrees.org/

Schwartz, Carolyn E., PenelopePenelope M. Keyl, John P. Marcum, and Rita Bode. “Helping Others Shows Differential Benefits on Health and Well-being for Male and Female Teens.” R Male and Female Teens. Journal of Happiness Studies, 15 Apr. 2008. Web. 11 Mar. 2016.

“Thorne Nature Experience.” Thorne Nature Experience. http://www.thornenature.org/

 

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The Facts About Human Impact On Coral Reefs

Anthropogenic Factors Causing Harm to Coral Reefs

Coral reefs are known to be home to most of the world’s fish species, with these being known as hotspots of biodiversity. On top of that, both reef-living fish and most pelagic, open-ocean fish spawn in coral reefs, becoming the prime source of the fishing industry. Coral reefs also fixate dissolved nitrogen, making it accessible in the marine food chain, and ultimately contributed to fish biomass that the fishing industry hungrily seeks. However, not all of human efforts contribute to the benefit if the coral reefs, despite it being a vital aspect of our economy and biology. Besides the obvious effects of pollution, here are some of the anthropogenic activities that directly and indirectly detriment the world’s coral reefs.

Destructive Fishing Practices

These are the anthropogenic acts that directly cause physical damage to coral reefs as a means for a greater catch. These include, but are not limited to, bottom trawling and the use of explosives.

Bottom Trawling

Bottom trawling involves the dragging of heavily weighted nets on the ocean floor, indiscriminately raking benthic organisms, including age-old and slow-growing corals. Larger fishing vessels employ this method to efficiently and effectively catch large amounts of fish in as little time and concern for the environment as possible. Naturally, this method is unsustainable, as fish would lose their spawning sites and habitat faster than it would regrow, effectively inhibiting the repopulation of the fish of the area.

Usage of Explosives

Explosives are used in small to medium-scale fishing, as these methods are less efficient than bottom trawling, but does not require the use of large fishing vessels. Explosives are primarily used to cause shockwaves aimed at destroying the calcareous structure of corals, and secondarily to destroy the fishes’ swim bladders. These two added results would then give these reckless fishermen an easy catch.

Side-Effects of Industry

Does the term “agricultural runoff” sound familiar? Chemical compounds used in agriculture, such as fertilizers and pesticides, are “run off” to sea, as an accident or an intentional endeavor to use the world’s oceans as a waste pond. These chemical compounds foreign to the coral reef ecosystem cause disruption by either the killing off or causing the uncontrollable growth of certain organisms. As such, the natural nutrient cycle is disrupted, or the overriding of algae causes the stifling of resources for other organisms.

Introduction of Chemical Compounds that Directly Cause Mortality

Let us first provide examples of the effects of introducing large amounts of foreign chemical compounds to the coral reefs that immediately lead to death of certain organisms. For example, a farmer’s waste pond full of herbicide overflowed due to excessive torrential rains, and drained to a nearby river, which eventually led to the ocean. The large amounts of would immediately cause the death of phytoplankton and sea grass communities. Oil spills will cause the reduction of light reaching the benthos, stifling the corals’ zooxanthellae of their and their host’s means to survive, grow, and reproduce.

Eutrophication

Now, we illustrate the effects of the introduction of large amounts of nutrients to coral reef waters, which is also known as “nutrient loading”. First, we consider that algae are competitors of corals in substrate and light. Also, algae grow and multiply at a much faster rate than corals. Why don’t algae naturally dominate coral reefs? It is because coral reefs are low-nutrient environments. Now, the introduction of nutrients to these coral reefs would then cause the rise of the biomass of algae in the area, which is also known as “algal bloom”, which subsequently stifles the resources needed by corals, leading to the reduction in the population of corals and all other organisms depending on them, and ultimately leading to the phase shift of the community.

Sediment

The increase in the amount of sediments suspended in the water column will trigger corals to secrete mucus in order to rid themselves of sediment. However, the corals will use up valuable energy in doing so, making them more vulnerable to disease and would slow their growth. Also, in the even of the coral not secrete enough mucus to get the sediment off fast enough, then the light going down the water column will be again restricted, yet another stress for the corals. Lastly, sediment will smother the coral, and will prevent the entry of the suspended particles corals do need to survive; food.

The increased amount of suspended sediment in the water column may be attributed to natural causes, wherein sediment upwelled by water currents as a natural part of reef ecology and healthily adds optimal amounts of nutrients to the reef, and by anthropological activities, which usually leads to the negative effects mentioned above. This may include the activities that, as a side-effect, causes nearby land to be more vulnerable to erosion, such as deforestation and mangrove-cutting and the activities that directly add sediment to the waters, such as the dumping of land from construction projects.

 

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Inspiring Youth To Protect The Oceans

11811454_876124882464540_7186074118662348853_nWith all of the recent talk about protecting the oceans, there is increasingly more and more momentum to learn what we can do to help from our coastal and inland communities. People are rallying together to end practices that are devastating to the environment; despite all of the conservation laws that are on the books, there are still practices that are used which damage the oceans and destroy fisheries.

Most people learn more effectively if they experience something first hand. That’s why Mountain and Sea Adventures provides experiential learning programs for their students, along with teachers and chaperones who want to learn more about ocean conservation.

The four major oceans on the planet are home to diverse and distinctive ocean creatures. These animals are simply not just the usual fishes or whales we know, but also cephalopods, crustaceans, plants, and even birds. Some of these creatures are on the brink of extinction and many are endangered due to negative human impacts on the marine environment.

In order for the abundantly and extremely valuable resource of the ocean to be around for future generations it is important we make sure that we are taking actions that are sustainable and do not allow for bad practices to continue negatively affecting the oceans.

Power of The Dollar

As consumers, we all need to make the shift to promoting ocean conservation by reducing our plastic consumption, using biodegradable products, and picking seafood that was harvested or raised in a manner that helps the oceans to rebuild instead of destroying them.

Individuals and some organizations, have contributed greatly in the efforts to save our oceans. However, while their works are helpful, they cannot do it alone. People like you and I have to do our part in protecting this diverse ecosystem.

There is also a great amount of damage that gets done to the oceans with the usage of industrial fishing techniques. Many fishes and other sea creatures find that their habitats are being destroyed. The good news is that there are more and more options for sustainable seafood for folks who want to be eating from the sea in a responsible manner.

So, what can individuals do in order to help save the ocean? First, we should encourage awareness by studying and sharing ocean facts. Education and learning will encourage awareness, which in turn will promote its preservation. Academic institutions and organizations have conducted substantial studies of different ocean conditions, and information is widely accessible for those who want to learn more about this and contribute to finding viable solutions.

In addition to that, it’s always best to start when young, that’s why parents and teachers should take their kids/students to environmental educational programs that are focused on imparting a love for conservation.

MSA’s programs offer youth useful and fun environmental education activities that students will find incredibly interesting to learn. Kids, teens as well as parents and teachers, can get up close and personal with the marine environment when they attend our programs at Catalina Island or Camp Oakes, Big Bear. It is an adventurous program that is both educational and enjoyable for everyone.

Single Use Plastics Are A Thing Of The Past

The importance of bottle water cannot be overlooked. Please think for a moment about how many people you saw today with a bottle of water and then think of that on a global scale. Those bottles alone would create a staggering pile of dump. Buying a reusable water bottle from the store and filling it up at home from a larger bottle will not only save you money but it will decrease the amount of plastic products purchased on a regular basis if everyone does so. This not only cuts down on garbage but it cuts down on petroleum based consumption. Plastic products are not biodegradable and will not go away with time but we can shrink the numbers of them in our landfills and in our oceans by not purchasing as many of them.

Another easy way to cut down on waste products is to carry reusable shopping bags. How many times a week do you go to the store and walk out with more than you even planned to purchase. Filling more plastic bags than you can use, and in turn creating more waste than necessary.

Ocean Awareness in Your Yard and Landscape

Runoff from the streets goes somewhere, does it not? In coastal areas more times than not, it goes to watersheds and ends up in the ocean. When you walk down the street, clean out your garage regularly, or wash your car in the driveway always be conscious of what goes down the gutters.

If you see trash when out in your neighbourhood do not forget to pick it up. You are taking care of your home and our planet by doing so. Millions of pieces of garbage are unnecessarily allowed to float their way to the coast and add to a growing pollution problem in the oceans.

We can all make a difference and every little bit does count even if it not evident at times. Always reuse resources that can be reused and cut down on those that you do not need to consume. You can also look into supporting many non-profits organisations that support education, conservation, and environmental protection. The “Gyre” of waste in the Pacific is just one example of marine pollution that exists today. Mountain and Sea Adventures (MSA) educates thousands of students from the southern California area every year.

Do not forget that this planet is our home and it will only remain a healthy and beautiful place if we all take steps to conserve and foster conservation and environmental concern in those around us. Take the time to make a difference and be conscious of the choices you make today knowing they do have an impact on all of us and other organisms that call this blue planet home.

 

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What Is El Nino Weather Pattern and Why Is It Important To You!?

549002_512061565537542_1768043809_nThe El Nino weather pattern is usually characterized by abnormal warming of the waters around the month of January. We see images of dried-up wells, cracked form grounds, as well as resulting periods of long drought.

There is also a rise in temperature, which in turn creates a change in the weather conditions with sometimes cause some serious environmental and even economic impacts. In the sequence when trade winds die out and ocean waters become unusually warm, an El Nino weather pattern occurs worldwide.

El Nino is can be clearly defined as “a disruption of the ocean atmosphere system in the tropical pacific having some important consequences for weather and climate around the world” as defined by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). It has a significant effect on both the Atlantic and Pacific hurricane frequency with an average duration lasting between nine to twelve months in the year. It occurs infrequently which cannot be predicted, somewhere between every two to seven years. Some refer to it as “Godzilla” due to its possible effects on climate change.

Among the climactic effects of El Nino are shifts in the standard paths of typhoons, causing draughts in some regions, and even flooding at other regions. Most times El Nino had partly been blamed for the forest and brush fires in some countries. Even some temperate regions are not left out from this change of weather patterns as countries like US, Canada, Japan and Korea. Their winter months have been generally reported to be colder than usual and with higher than normal snowfall.

A lesser known fact about El Nino is that it actually slows the rotation of the earth by affecting air currents surrounding the globe. But do not worry! It’s only by an extremely small fraction of it and not enough to change your daily routine, nor can it affect things such as how an airplane flies.

In reality El Niño is just one phase of a two phase system. La Niña is the counterpart to El Niño, yet receives much less attention. Therefore the oscillations of temperature anomalies asymmetrically bare the name el Niño. Historically la Niña has proven to be more consistent which makes weather-men happy because they get to be right more often than usual.

Why is it important to me?

Regardless of where you may live in the world, you may experience a drier or wetter climate than usual due to the El Niño weather patterns. If you live near a coastal region, hurricanes or tropical storms could impact your life more during the next year.

Is it only all about the ocean?              

Off course, with 71% of the earth’s surface covered with water and 96.5% of that water are held in our oceans, it would be a hard argument to dispute the effect water has on our general climate. El Nino is a proven fact to this not a theory, however, theories do abound with scientists on exactly how this weather phenomenon works.

The Effects

Agriculture

The Peruvian anchoveta fishery, which is the biggest single species fishery in the world, typically collapses during El Niño events. In normal years, several million metric tons of fish are harvested from this region off the coast of countries like Peru. But during months like December, January and February, it is unlikely the fish are going to be abundant, which will have devastating impacts on the economy and industries that depend on the anchoveta fishery.

Also off the coast of North America, there will be declines in some fish stocks, specifically in the cold water fish stocks, like anchovy, that are important prey for a lot of species of fishes like tuna, whales, sea birds, seals and sea lions. So the loss of the anchovy off North America will also impact those higher predators too in the chain.

For most people, the Spanish words El Nino (“little child”) and La Nina (“little girl”) are simple, nice and harmless words. Who would have thought they mean agricultural trouble rising temperatures and erratic weather patterns? However, weather patterns associated with El Nino and La Nina have completely changed the coffee growing season in Peru. This single weather fluctuation is Peru’s challenge and a big reason why this country struggles to be a leading coffee world producer.

What About Impacts For Beach-Goers And Coastal Communities?

Thanks to El Niño, beachgoers have more to worry about than shark attacks and a deluge of sewage and plastic as highly venomous sea snakes are usually washing ashore too. Sea snakes do not travel well on land and it’s hurting more wildlife than just one scary snake.

Also thousands of crabs have found their way to shore in beaches in this period. Prompted to travel north owing to El Niño–triggered warm weather, the crabs struggle out of water, leaving the beaches coated in dead red crustaceans.

Seabirds are also affected as they begin to die at an alarming rate at the seashores. As a result the waters has pushed the fish deeper into cold waters, and the birds simply can’t reach them.

How El Nino Effects Pelagic Sea Life

A host of marine animals feed on phytoplankton, including whales, jellyfish, and shrimp. As El Niño weakens upwelling of cool nutrient rich water to the ocean surface, the amount of phytoplankton decreases for them to eat. Because phytoplankton make up the bottom of the oceans food web, decreased supplies affect not only the fish that eat them but those animal predators as well. The appearance of dangerous animals like hammerhead sharks due to an increased hunt for food sources, mainly smaller fish and squid.

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