Thursday, 3 September 2015

Ed the Bear explores Newhaven

Hi all

Well I am back on shore today while the crew make last minute preparations. I took a walk up the hill from the marina to get a view of the sea. 
I look back towards the marina and I can just make out the Moondancer at mooring.

From the hill top I can see the mouth of the river and the mouth of the harbour. 
We will be leaving soon and will head out towards the sea and then sail around the western arm and head off west along the Channel.
This is a view to the west from the same hill.

Back on board there is lots of excitement and the preparations will soon be complete.
The first leg of our journey will take us westwards along the South Coast, past my beach at Shoreham and eventually on to Falmouth. From there we will head south towards Spain and Portugal. How we travel from there will depend on the sea conditions, wind and weather.
I will report back as soon as I am able.

Bye for now

Ed the Bear

Wednesday, 2 September 2015

Ed the Bear Embarks on the Moondancer

Hi all

Well the day is finally here and I have just arrived at Newhaven Harbour to embark on the 32 foot sailing yacht the Moondancer. I had previously met Ed Wade-Martins at the EYE Eco Summit but I have not meet any of the rest of the crew.

Ed greets me at the gate and we make our way along a series of gang planks and floating walk ways and eventually reach the Moondancer. She is a beautiful vessel.
Most of the vessels I have traveled on have been hi-tech vessels built for research and I have only been on board a day at a time. Including the R/V Fulmar, a research vessel you might have seen on the BBC TV programme Big Blue Live.

This is me on the R/V Fulmar back in March 2010

This trip is going to be a very different experience, but I hope this will also be a chance to experience (and feel) the amazing power and beauty of the ocean.
Being a small bear the vessel looks really big to me and one of the crew help me on board. Things are very manic as you would expect with the final preparations underway. One of the crew have just returned with food for the journey and it is being checked and packed away.

Someone gives me a hot cup of tea and honey and I find a space to keep out of everybody's way. Across the water behind Moondance is a huge ferry which to me looks as big as one of the icebergs I saw in Antarctica.
There are many other vessels of different sizes moored up in the marina.
I leave Ed (the human) to help sort out solar panels which are to be fitted to the roof of the cabin.

Everyone is very busy but there is also a feeling of excitement in the air.

Bye for now

Ed the Bear

Thursday, 30 July 2015

An invite from Ed Wade-Martins and Moving Sounds

Hi all

After meeting Ed Wade-Martins from Moving Sounds, who was also running workshops at the EYE Summit, Ed has invited me to come along as a member of the crew of the sailing vessel Moondancer.

Ed (the human) will be sailing along the English Channel and then off into the Atlantic Ocean early in September. I have visited sites on the East Coast of the USA but many of my travels so far have been in the \Pacific Ocean. The Atlantic is much nearer to where I live.

I have meet a lot of people called Ed on my travels include Ed Williams who designed and built my diving bell. But I will be travelling without my diving bell this time.

This will be a great opportunity for me to experience more of the ocean and the natural processes that create wind, waves currents and more. I hope to encounter some amazing wildlife and meet interesting people. I will also be documenting any evidence of human damage to the ocean that I see on our journey.

I am very excited, but a little nervous too as the Atlantic Ocean is a big place for a small bear. The Pacific Ocean might be the deepest ocean but the Atlantic Ocean is known for being the wildest in regard to weather and sea conditions.

This will be my longest trip at sea as I usually only take short trips, apart from my visit to Antarctica but that was on a big ship.

Come back and visit by blog to see how my journey unfolds as I share my adventure and the rest of the crew.

You can find out more about Moving Sounds at

Bye for now.

Ed the Bear

Tuesday, 14 July 2015

Ed the Bear at the EYE Eco Summit

We participated again this year in the E.Y.E Project (Eco Young and Engaged) Eco Summit which this year was hosted by Shoreham Academy.  

The E.Y.E. Project brings local schools together to focus on the importance of caring for our planet and to provide an additional opportunity for the young people within those schools to learn about environmental matters through fun and educational activities available at Eco-Summit events. 

The EYE project is made up of local schools from Shoreham, Lancing and Worthing.

I have enjoyed participating in the eco-summit on numerous occasions and this year I was asked to be the Key Note speaker

I started the keynote by talking about Shoreham Beach Local Nature Reserve, why it’s important and the role of the management group and the Friends of Shoreham Beach in caring for the reserve and engaging the public. 

I also discussed the education opportunities that we offer from rare vegetated shingle, to tide pooling, coastal geography, global dimension and much more.

I then spoke about the adventures of Ed the Bear and how Ed the Bear’s travels have created links with scientists around the world and to share their knowledge about the oceans.

This includes the possible impact of climate change on Shoreham Beach as well as other issues.

I also ran three workshops during the day based around Ed the Bears travels to scientists around the world to learn about ocean science and conservation. 

The first two focused on topics touched on in the keynote such as how oceans moderate our climate and weather; provide 50% of our oxygen, freshwater, food, new medicines and more. This included a fun quiz to explore the many thinks that oceans and rainforest provide and how we rely on both of these biomes every day.. 

This was followed by an activity where the children took on the role of albatross to explore the dangers of plastic pollution to marine life. 

The third workshop was for secondary school pupils and explored the same issues but in a more scientific context.

We also took a display stand which I manned during lunch and breaks and gave out the LNR leaflets and educational flyer. The day was a great success.

Wednesday, 1 July 2015

Ed the Bear shares Ocean Science at UK Stem Science Event

Hi all

We have returned again this year to the Big Bang South East Stem Science Event in Sussex, UK. It is great to see how stem science is really growing in Sussex. The first event we took part in 3 years ago had an attendance of about 2500 pupils and teachers.

This year event was attended by 7000 pupils and teachers. Booking for the event was suspended over a month before the event as 7000 is the maximum number allowed for the event.
Last year the event moved to a much bigger venue, the South of England Show Grounds and we were at the same venue again this year.

We brought an updated display showing Ed the Bears travels to scientists and other organisations around the world to learn about ocean science and human impact on the oceans.

We also brought some simple science demonstrations to help explain some ocean science issues.
One of the key ways that the oceans affect us every day is that they moderate our climate and weather. 
This is due to the Great Ocean Conveyor which transports ocean water heated at the equator across the ocean. On the way it looses heat and moisture to the atmosphere thus influencing our daily weather and the Earth's climate.

When the ocean water reaches the polar regions it cools, some of the freshwater becomes ice making the remaining water more salty (dense) so it sinks. More water moves to replace it and this powers the whole system. Its real name is the thermolhaline, thermo = temperature, haline = salinity.
We demonstrated how this works using cold and very salty water which we dyed red to show that it sinks straight down. This waster flows along the sea bed and will eventually return to the surface at the equator which completes the cycle.

We also exhibited an explanation of thermal expansion. As the oceans have warmed been warmed by climate change they have expanded. They now take up more space and so they have risen up the coast. Over half of  sea level rise has been caused by thermal expansion, much of the rest by melting ice caps.

We also included our demonstration of ocean acidification. The oceans absorb 25% of the carbon dioxide we emit into the atmosphere. This is now changing the water chemistry of the ocean threatening creatures that build their shells and bodies from calcium carbonate.
In our demonstration we put a sea shell in vinegar which slowly dissolves during the day. Creatures in the ocean are not dissolving, but they are struggling to access the calcium carbonate to build their shells and we are seeing thinner shells and even deformed shells that can make it easier for a predator to break through to eat the occupant.

Plastic debris was the other demonstration, a simple game that illustrates the problem that marine creatures have catching food without swallowing plastic. 
We even find plastic in the bodies of plankton. Tiny pieces of plastic can also absorb other pollutants increasing the risk to the oceans wildlife.

Ed the Bear wears a necklace made from a scientists ring band. the scientists placed it on the leg of an albatross chick which sadly died from swallowing plastic. Ed uses the necklace to share his experiences of the plight of these majestic birds.

People are often surprised how we could ever change the temerature of the oceans, pollute them or change their water chemistry. The graphic below helps put the size of the oceans into perspective
 The blue sphere to the right of planet earth represents all the water in all the oceans, from the surface to the ocean depths. The even smaller sphere to the right of this one represents all the freshwater on the earth!

We also included Bella Bears project about freshwater and freshwater habitats and included her trip last year to the Amazon with Rainforest Workshops

A completely separate project, but still focusing on Freshwater and freshwater habitats is Railway Land Live (a nature reserve on what was once railway land).  This focused on a Heritage Lottery Funded Project Raiwlaylandlive! which includes two underwater webcams and two surface webcams and much more.

The site also includes information on how schools can take part next year. We also included information about a special one day Biosphere Festival on the site on the 5th July. 
It was an amazing day and a great opportunity to share ocean science to a wide range of schools. We also had a chance to raise awareness of the marine education programme we run based at the Shoreham Beach Local Nature Reserve

Bye for now

Sunday, 14 June 2015

Adur World Oceans Day 2015

Hi all

We are here again at Adur World Oceans Day. I have updated my exhibit to include my new adventures since last year. In particular my trip to USA last year where I worked with Youth Dive with Purpose who weer helping to restore a coral reef and survey a ship wreck (link).

This year, the theme for World Oceans Day is plastic pollution in the oceans. So we included lots of examples from my travels that illustrate this problem.

I wore my special necklace I was given by Ron Hirshi and Fred the happy face monkey while I was in the Hawaiian Islands a few years ago. The necklace is made from a scientists ring that was placed on a Laysan Albatross chick so the scientists could study the birds life as it grows into an adult. Sadly the chick (along with many others) died from swallowing plastic. So I wear my necklace to help me share what I discovered about the dangers these albatross face.

I also had my display of plastic which was removed from an entangled Cape Fur Seal in South Africa. They were the lucky ones because human divers weer able to remove the plastic packaging bands.

A new part of my display this year explained about micro beads - which are actually tiny pieces of plastic. Some body scrubs and toothpaste actually use micro beads in their scourers!

People are really surprised when they discover this and a bit shocked that they hay have been scrubbing their face with tiny bits of plastic. When people wash of the body scrub the tiny bits of plastic go down the sink and into the drain and eventually into rivers and are washed out to sea. To fish and other small creatures the the tiny bits of plastic look like food.

We also had a game for children which was a bowl of uncooked rice and lentils. The rice represents food, the lentils pieces of plastic.
With a teaspoon, the children have to remove as much rice (food) as possible and as few red lentils (plastic). The aim is to show how difficult it is for marine animals to catch food without swallowing plastic debris. The children only have a minute to complete the task.
If they go really slow and only pick up a few pieces of rice/food (and no plastic) then they will not have collected enough food to keep them alive. If they go quicker, they collect lots of bits of plastic.  Its then interesting to get the children’s view on the activity and then it’s all related to other images and information on the display.

There were loads of interested visitors to the event, in fact we hardly had time to even stop for a snack. 
Lots of children played the plastic food game and we were pleased to see some adults having a go. It was good to see that many other people are concerned about the damage being done to the ocean.
We also had our usual ocean acidification demonstration explaining how an increase in man-made carbon dioxide the air is leading to an increase in the ocean. This increase is causing the pH of seawater to change threatening many animals that have a calcium shell from crabs and sea urchins to corals.

We also had a display explaining how climate change might affect local fish. It focused on fish and chip shops and a display about how cod may soon be out of the reach of our fisherman as our water warms and the cod move with the colder waters.
I included an alternative visual fish and chip shop menu of (warm water) fish we may be eating instead (such as gurnard, hake, sardines and john dory) that are becoming more common.

There were also many other exhibits too.

Friends of Shoreham Beach  had their usual fascinating display about Shoreham Beach Nature Reserve and the rare vegetated shingle habitat.

British Marine Life  Study Society had a display of fish tanks with interesting local marine life.
They weer enjoyed by children young and old.

They contained delicate common prawn.

Shore crab
Common blenny fish and much more.

There was also a very popular display of live lobsters and edible crabs.

Next to my display was an exhibit showing environmentally friendly alternatives to cosnmetics and cleaning produces, to replace those that might pollute the sea. 
So I lent them my micro-beads information.

We also brought Bella's display about her trip to the Amazon Rainforest with a organization called Amazon Rainforest Workshops. Last year the workshop programme took Bella with them to the Amazon to explore and learn about the damaging forest and its wildlife.
She also meet some of the people who live in the rainforest and how they get everything they need from the forest but do so without damaging the forest.

We can all learn a lot from this. Bella also learned that many of these people do not have clean drinking water and saw a special programme was bringing clean drinking water to these communities using special water filters.

We had an amazing day sharing my and Bellas adventures with the visitors. Great day.
Bye for now
Ed Bear and Bella

Friday, 10 April 2015

Tenerife trip part 2

Hi all
Today we have traveled inland and visited an ancient laurel forest. We are in the north west of the island where it is often enshrouded with clouds or mist; however this is the perfect requirements for the forest to thrive.

How amazing, we are walking in a cloud.

I stopped to read the information sign and the others walked on without me. It said.
'65 million years ago Laurel Forest covered large areas of the planet – although back then the volcanic Canary Islands had not yet been born. The laurel forests adapted to major geological and climatic changes that made many ancient species extinct. One of these adapted species, Macaronesian Laurel forest, lives here at Monte del Agua'.
The cloud makes the air very damp and a little spooky. It would be easy to imagine that we had traveled back in time to some prehistoric would and any minute one might expect to hear the roar of a dinosaur.

There are lots of ferns and flowering plants growing by the rocks. It was an amazing place, I wonder if the Amazon Rainforest where Bella visited was anything like this? Soon I heard voices in the mist and then shapes and I realised I had caught up with everyone. Phew.
 I had a really amazing time in Tenerife, an island that is like several island joined together. Hot dry desert in the south, stunning volcanic rock coastline in the west and ancient forest. Wow

Bye for now