Happy International Mangrove Action Day! This occasion is a small but vibrant tradition that has been observed annually on July 26th for nearly a decade in countries around the globe, including the U.S., India, Ecuador, Micronesia, and many others. To celebrate, some communities organize protests or restoration projects. Some convene discussions or offer educational lectures about mangrove ecology. Others simply take a moment to appreciate the importance of mangrove forests. Why have a special day for mangroves ? They don’t have the cachet of the giant redwoods or the notoriety of rainforests...
An 11-year-old in Texas is saddened by the oil spill and begins searching for something she can do to help. A 13-year-old in Washington, D.C., convinces her mom to make small changes in their daily routine that make their home more ocean-friendly. A 7-year-old spends a part of his Saturday trip to the museum learning about the ocean—and some of the things that are harming it —and decides to donate the two prized nickels he found that morning to help the ocean. A 15-year-old decides she wants to be a marine biologist so she can learn about and save the ocean. She dreams of seeing her favorite...
Happy (early) Independence Day! For many of us in the United States, the 4th of July is a time to celebrate and reflect on our national heritage. In many ways, the U.S. grew up on the water and remains a maritime nation to this day. In fact, some of the proudest patriotic traditions have their roots in the sea. One such tradition is the national anthem. On September 14, 1814, an attorney named Francis Scott Key was detained on a British ship four miles off the coast of Baltimore. From that vantage point, he watched the bombardment of Fort McHenry. As the sun rose over the water at dawn, he...
Ah, summer (in the northern hemisphere, anyway). For me, despite growing up in land-locked cowboy country, the word summer has always been synonymous with beach . It’s that time of year when bathing suits come out of hiding, and we make our annual pilgrimages to visit the sun, the sand, and the surf.
Lately we’ve been fielding questions from Smithsonian visitors wondering how they can help with the oil spill cleanup in the Gulf of Mexico. If there is any good news coming out of this situation, it’s that thousands of people across the U.S. care deeply and are finding ways to respond to the oil spill. Some people are donating or volunteering. Some are making changes in their homes and workplaces—reducing their energy consumption and ditching the disposable lifestyle. Some are expressing their views through the media and to their elected officials. These and other actions are all part of...
Since late April, the world has watched a devastating oil spill from a BP drilling rig spread throughout the Gulf of Mexico and become one of the worst environmental disasters in the history of the United States. We have all seen some of the impacts on large animals: birds, turtles, dolphins, and fishes have all been shown covered in oil with clogged gills, feathers and fins. Undoubtedly, the imagery of these familiar and normally photogenic animals is a powerful, heartbreaking reminder of the damage being done in the Gulf. But, the effect of the oil on those organisms we do not see may be...
Last week, we began asking visitors to the Ocean Portal a simple question: “How do you feel about the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico?" We’ve received one Haiku and a slew of other interesting answers . Many people mourned the loss of wildlife, habitats, and ways-of-life. Many expressed frustration and a sense of helplessness. But perhaps the most interesting theme among the answers was a sense that we all can—and indeed must—do more to protect the ocean. I am “thinking very hard about the choices I make about energy use,” wrote one visitor. “I need to protect what I can,” wrote another. A...
As the days grow long, school bells fade into distant memories, and families start taking long weekends at the beach, the Ocean Portal Team is preparing for the weeks ahead. The way we see it, June 2010 is going to be a significant month for the ocean.
Sometimes, a tragic event can become a powerful teaching opportunity. The Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico has the potential to capture students’ attention and stimulate discussion on topics like: • biology and ecology (How will the oil effect wildlife and the environment?), • physics and chemistry (How do water conditions, currents, and weather affect the way the oil disperses? What techniques and materials can we use to clean up this mess?), • civics (How will this effect the economy and local communities? Who is responsible and how can we prevent future spills?), and •...
The explosion of Deepwater Horizon, an oil-drilling platform roughly 50 miles off the coast of Louisiana, is quickly growing into an environmental disaster that will leave its mark on coastal communities, fisheries, wildlife, and ecosystems along the Gulf Coast for decades to come.