Thursday, November 19, 2015

Capitol Hill, Ocean Friendly Establishments, and Beach Cleanups.

Plastic Ocean Project goes to Capitol Hill!!  

On Wednesday, November 4th, Bonnie Monteleone, Executive Director of Plastic Ocean Project, visited Capitol Hill to speak in opposition to offshore drilling off our coast. She spoke about the importance of the Hatteras region where the majority of the sea turtle species, of which are endangered or critically endangered, frequently visit due to the Sargassum mats which form off our coast.   
She also talked about the fact that sargassum floats, and so does oil.  Sargassum, comes from the Sargasso Sea , and is an essential fish habitat important to many species because of its ability to provide shelter and foraging for hundreds of marine species, including baby sea turtles.  There are at least 81 species that rely on Sargassum as their only known habitat.  Sargassum is protected by law, and for that reason alone offshore drilling should not happen off the North Carolina coast. 
Please consider contacting the governor's office to express your opposition to offshore drilling off the North Carolina Coast.  Or, sign this petition.

After the screening of Mission Blue at UNCW , the UNCW POP volunteers were super excited and decided to start a Hope Spot in Cape Hatteras.  The student volunteers put a petition together to present to Sylvia Earle, of Mission Blue.
UNCW POP is the most active student club at UNCW!!  Congrats to all of you for making such a big difference in our community and our oceans!! 

Ginger Taylor, Tricia Monteleone and Bonnie Monteleone created this "trash turtle" using  trash collected by Ginger Taylor during her Monday morning walks looking for turtle tracks.  This sculpture serves to educate visitors touring the turtle hospital on the issues and problems with plastics in our oceans.  Bonnie and Ginger also put together an information board with facts about plastics.  This sculpture and information board is part of the tour at the Karen Beasley Sea Turtle Hospital, and provides information to all of the visitors about the issues with plastic and marine debris litter.


Lea Island is in desperate need of a cleanup! After a recent storm, a house was washed away and the debris and litter that was left behind is unbelievable.  Audubon and other volunteers are heading to the island this weekend to do a major cleanup.  The photos below are some taken from a recent trip to the island.  This island is home to many seabirds and other wildlife.  We will do all we can to protect the island and keep it clean.  Organizing a cleanup in your area is an awesome way to make a difference, bring people together, and educate on the issues with debris and plastics in our oceans.  Please send any photos and information from your cleanups to and we will post it on our blog.  Thanks for all you do to help keep the oceans clean! 
"Individually, we are one drop, together, we are an ocean".
Ryunosuke Satoro 

Ocean Friendly Establishments

UNCW POP members and other volunteers have been busy contacting area restaurants to sign up for the "Ocean Friendly Establishment" initiative.  The only thing a restaurant has to do is make the pledge to only give straws upon request to their patrons.  It's such an easy way to make a big difference! Thanks to all who have signed on so far.  Anyone interested in joining this initiative and new trend, please contact Kim Beller for more information.
We are proud to announce the latest restaurants to come on board!  More to come!!!
Thanks you to all of you for making a difference in the use of single use plastics!

Monday, November 2, 2015

upcoming adventures at sea... success stories...and tips on reducing your plastic footprint


Ocean activist/ eco warrior, Lisa Rider will soon be on her big adventure with  As she travels the ocean blue, diving, exploring and collecting data, she will be staying in touch with us here at Plastic Ocean Project so that we can share her adventures, stories and findings with you.  Visit her blog to read her story and to see what she is packing for her trip, and what she has planned.  

Bonnie Monteleone , founder of Plastic Ocean Project, is getting ready for another big adventure as well.  On December 28th, she and the team of "Swim the Big Blue",  leave from Natal, Africa, and will be at sea for 100 days with Ben Hooper , as he swims the "big blue" from Africa to Brazil.  Ben's goal is to swim 1764 miles. He will be the first person to achieve this major accomplishment.  Bonnie will be collecting samples as they sail.  We will be in touch with Bonnie to keep up with his progress, her samples and findings,  and to hear all about the adventures they will encounter.  Stay tuned!


Recently, I saw my friend, Teresa's post on Facebook, sharing her beautiful handmade soaps and information about her soap making class.  The soap looked like something I would definitely want to try, but it was wrapped in plastic.  Reaching out to her was easy.  I sent her a private message on Facebook asking her to consider using a more eco-friendly wrap and she was happy to make the switch.  In fact, she made the switch within minutes and sent me a photo showing off her new packaging.  This is how the universe works!!  All we have to do is ask.  If you know of a business you would like to support, but wish they would be more conscientious of their use of plastic, then just put it out there to them and they will likely be happy to make the change.  Little success stories add up and become very important in our endeavor to make the ocean cleaner and greener.  


Plastic straws still remain one of the top items found at the cleanups.  The group has found almost 300 straws in the past couple of months at Wrightsville Beach.  Unfortunately, straws, (as all plastics do), pose a huge problem for marine life, not to mention the toxicity from the plastics leaching into our oceans.  UNCW POP volunteers and other volunteers are reaching out to area restaurants regarding the "OCEAN FRIENDLY ESTABLISHMENT" initiative.  Anyone interested in becoming an "OCEAN FRIENDLY ESTABLISHMENT" can contact Kim Beller ( to receive information and to sign up.  All we ask is that the establishment only gives straws upon request.  

UNCW POP has been busy doing beach cleanups and organizing events to raise awareness in the community.  Recently, guest speaker Dr. Bill McLellan spoke to the group about cetaceans and marine debris.  The number of whales, dolphins and other marine life affected by plastics and fishing gear is outrageous.  The plastic epidemic is huge and it is killing our beloved sea creatures at an alarming rate.  Saying no to single use plastics and keeping the ocean clean of fishing gear, plastics,  and other litter is essential to helping our marine mammals.  Dr. McLellan is doing important work to save whales and dolphins, as well as documenting all of the obstacles they face.  It was an honor to have Dr. McLellan as a guest speaker at UNCW. 

Beneath the Waves is a photo gallery of photos from diver's committed to cleaning up the ocean of marine debris.  Not only do we need to clean up the surface of the ocean, but beneath the waves, in the depths of the ocean lies a devastating problem for marine life.  Please e-mail any photos (with photo creds), if you want us to share what you are finding during your cleanups, (on the beach or beneath the waves).

"Individually, we are one drop.  TOGETHER, we are an ocean."
Ryunosuke Satoro

 Tuesday, November 10th there will be a showing of the movie MISSION BLUE at 6:30 in Dobo 134 at UNCW.  Everyone is welcome!!

making a difference through community outreach.....

Perfect timing for halloween, Sam Athey, Lara Noran, and Danielle Gutierrez visited Mrs. Casteen's second grade class at Ogden Elementary School to speak to students about plastics in our oceans.  After reading the book "All the way to the Ocean", by Joel Harper, the students were given re-usable bags for trick-or-treating on Halloween!  The story lead them to a group discussion and guessing how long it takes various plastic items to break down, and reach the ocean.  UNCW POP is available for presentations and outreach.  Please contact us if you are interested in more information and scheduling an event for your school or group.

Would you like to reduce your plastic footprint?  Every little thing makes a difference...
just a few tips to start!.......
*say not to single use plastics!!  (water bottles, straws, grocery bags, food wrapped in plastic)
* do a beach cleanup, a park cleanup, or an anywhere you are cleanup!!  (always leave it cleaner than you found it:)
*buy in the bulk section using your own re-usable jars
*say no thank you to straws when you dine out