Monday, 26 September 2016

Ed the Bear and One Ocean Project take apart in EYE Eco Summit

Great to be taking part again in the EYE Eco Summit (EYE = Eco Young Engaged). Following the 9th annual Worthing & Adur Eco Summit this is the first event for schools in the west of the county which was held at the Weald and Downland Open Air Museum.

During the day, participating schools took part in a variety of workshops including Living Wage Game, Importance of pollinators, energy misuse and saving energy, importance of water conservation and others. the participating schools could chose 3 workshops to take part in - including our workshop One Ocean - focusing on the benefits we get from the ocean and ways that we are impacting our climate.

Using a presentation of Ed the Bear and the One Ocean Project I introduced the pupils to the concepts around benefits we receive from the ocean using examples from Ed the Bears travels. Then used examples from Ed's travels to consider ways we impact our climate - this included a Q&A.

We then used this as a start point for the pupils to create an infographic, group 1 focused on the benefits and group 2 ways that we impact our climate
Infographic 1

Pupils considered how we benefit from the ocean. In a nut shell we discussed benefits such as how the ocean creates and moderate our climate and weather.
From Workshop 1
How plant plankton produce 50% of the oxygen we breathe and in turn remove a million tons of carbon dioxide a day from the atmosphere. How the ocean provides freshwater via the water cycle – creating and replenishing freshwater habitats, providing water for us to drink, to grow crops etc.
                            From workshop 2
We looked at how 50% of the food we eat (globally) comes from the ocean and how the ocean allows us to transport 90% of our goods around the globe. The oceans are a great provider of wellbeing and fun activities. They are also a great potential source of renewable energy.
                            From workshop 3
We also considered what creates wind and waves.

Infographic 2
Because it would be too big a topic to look at all the ways we impact the ocean, we focused on how humans impact our climate.

Pupils started from the point that out main impact was from burning fossil fuels causing climate change. From there the pupil’s problem solved (with a bit of help and guidance) what impact this might have.
                                         From workshop 1
This included sea level rise from melting ice caps (and I added to this thermal expansion the cause of 50% sea level rise so far, when water warms it expands). They considered how man made climate change would cause some places to have droughts while other places will flood. How increase in tropical storms will impact our weather in the UK – rain is good but too much rain means we get all the negative aspects (affecting us, crops, freshwater habitats) but few of the benefits.
                                           From Workshop 2
We looked at how sea level rise could cause other problems - such as increased coastal erosion. 40% of the global population live close to the coast. The pupils looked at how a rise in sea temperature is damaging habitats such as coral reefs, disrupting food webs by creating changes in the distribution of some animals.
                                            From Workshop 3
People cause climate change but they can also be part of the solution.

We finished the workshop where we started – what does the ocean have to do with sustainable schools, by the pupils identifying which elements of each infographic  was relevant to sustainable schools and which aspects could sustainable schools have a positive effect.
To help cement the idea that the problems we cause through man made climate change are caused by impacting on the natural processes that provide the benefits we get from the ocean – each group shared their infographic with each other.
During the lunch break teachers and pupils visited our stands.
At the end of the day a presentation shared some of the good practices and projects that the various schools had instigated in their own grounds. There were also certificate for best reuse of items. The day finished with each workshop sharing in a 2 minute the results of their workshops.
It was a great day and amazing buzz from the children. The children in my workshops did a great job of problem solving these issues.

Sunday, 18 September 2016

Ed the Bear helps with Friends of Shoreham Beach - Beach Clean event

Friends of Shoreham Beach take part each year in the Marine Conservation Society - Great British Beach Clean
This year the local event was on 18th September, and organised by John Charlish committee member Friends of Shoreham Beach.
Also this year I was able to come along with Ed the Bear to help with the planned beach clean and to provide a deeper awareness and understanding of the global and local problems caused by plastic. The event base was set up alongside the recently constructed boardwalk (which is actually made from recycled plastic)

This included my display stand focusing on why Shoreham Beach (where the event was taking place) was important and how we benefit from the ocean (ecosystem services) such as 50% of our oxygen, freshwater, 15% of food as well as how the ocean moderates our climate and weather. The display stand also provided a focus on local consequences to global issues – such as climate change and sea level rise.

The display stand also included pictures and information from the One World One Ocean Project and Ed the Bear.

As you know I have been send Ed the Bear to scientists around the world to find our about the ocean and ocean conservation which we then share at events and visiting schools using to create links between the local and global, a celebration of the ocean which includes a focus on conservation issues explored first hand. 

This also included local and global examples of plastic debris (including plastic strapping which came from cape fur seals that were entangled in the plastic, plastic incidents around the world including the necklace gifted to Ed the Bear while in Hawaiian islands – made from a numbered scientific leg band from an albatross chick that died from swallowing plastic.
Ed raises awareness of the plight of these majestic birds and also about the dangers to UK sea birds such as fulmar. There was also a big focus on micro plastics – from how large plastics items degrade into spammer items (which can be ingested) and also micro beads and other human sources.

Part of the display also focused on the fact that not everything you find on the beach is rubbish – focusing on ray, dogfish, whelk and similar egg cases that look like they are plastic.
I spoke to the participants about plastic pollution as they gathered awaiting the start of the beach clean. This included explaining about micro plastics and how the smaller items on the beach are often more dangerous to local marine life.

After a briefing by John the participants, armed with a large bags, gloves and grabbers, started the beach clean.
They were divided into two groups, one group which would undertake the finger-tip litter pick survey which would be sent to MCS, the remained cleaned the beach outside of this designated area.

I remained by the stand for a while and spoke to members of the public passing along the boardwalk.

I then headed off down the far end of the beach clean boundary to check up and support the volunteers, as well as answer questions and share information.
I met a family who had come along to the rock pooling with a microscope event I ran back in August - which was also funded by the heritage lottery grant.

I walked back with the last of the volunteers as they returned with their bags of debris and returned the grabbers.
A final chance to talk to participants before the event ended. A large amount of debris was removed from the beach – however there were fewer large items found this time – so maybe the message is getting across. This meant we collected a lot of smaller items of plastic.

We still have to tally up the amount of litter collected and the result of the marine litter survey. The bags of litter collected will be collected for us by Adur District Council. It was a very successful day.

Saturday, 27 August 2016

Ed the Bear at Adur River Festival 2016

My buddy Steve took me and a display to River fest on 27th August. FoSB’s Julia Fowles assisted on the stand in the morning. River Fest took place on Coronation Green on the edge of the river Adur giving a perfect location for the event.
Shoreham beach is connected to the River Adur in many ways; in fact it was formed by the sea, coastal processes, and the river. The have both been tied together by maritime history and there are also many natural connections between Shoreham beach, the sea, river estuary and the river.
So, where better to raise awareness and celebrate this than River Fest.

The display stand was tailored especially for this event and explained various topics. ‘Why Shoreham Beach is Special’ – focusing on the role of the nature reserve and the rare vegetated shingle habitat.
‘Why the Ocean is important’ focused on the benefits we all receive from the ocean (freshwater, 50% of our oxygen, 15% of our food and much more included how the ocean creates and moderates our climate and weather.

This linked well to another display panel ‘Global Problems – Local Consequences’ focused on rising sea temperature and how melting ice and expanding oceans (as water heats up) linked to the local consequence of local sea defence work and the current river defence development.
This panel also focused on plastic pollution – including micro plastics which are injected by marine life including plankton. 
This also included our display about plastic pollution and a micro plastic activity.
To help raise awareness of global issues we shared my adventures Ed the Bear visiting scientists around the world and sharing their knowledge with schools and also the public.
A panel explained how Shoreham Beach had been formed over centuries by longshore drift and the river Adur using maps starting at 13th Century to modern time.
This panel also explained about Shoreham’s important maritime heritage including the ship building and trade and Steve entered into the spirit of the event and the pirate theme by dressing as a pirate.
A final panel illustrated some of the birds that visit the Adur estuary and beach and also examples of the many sightings of seals and dolphins that Steve has recorded over the years – off Shoreham beach and in the river Adur, as Sussex Regional Coordinator for the Sea Watch Foundation which he has run as a volunteer since 1993.

Steve spoke to many local people and as hoped, this allowed us to connect with a different section of the local community than we usually engage with at out nature walks etc. The event was busy all day and there was a wide range of ages.  It was a great day oooh! ahhhh!

Saturday, 20 August 2016

Why is Shoreham Beach So Special?

Ed the Bear helped share raise awareness of his fascinating beach which is also a local nature reserve. I organised and ran this event as part of the 10 year celebration of the Shoreham Beach Nature Reserve.

This event took place at the Church of the Good Shepherd Hall on Shoreham Beach and on the adjacent Shoreham Beach Local Nature Reserve with help from FoSB’s Chris Bohea.
Sadly the previous spell of hot weather broke and we had heavy rain early on in the morning and then 50 mph winds blowing along the beach. This almost certainly impacted in the number of people who turned up for this event.

However we did get a few families come along to the event and a couple of individuals and despite these conditions they were very enthusiastic.

Partly for safety reasons and partly to include as much of the original planned content, I adapted the event to accommodate the bad weather but still keep as much of the original content.

Instead of one presentation and the remainder taking pace on the beach, I ran part of the Why is Shoreham Beach Special presentation (focusing on the nature reserve, vegetated shingle habitat, wildlife and how Shoreham beach was formed and shaped by the river and coastal processes – which continue today. Plus activity about plastic pollution and micro-plastics. People then eat lunch in the hall instead of on the beach. 

After this we all went over to the beach for about 20 minutes (participant’s safety uppermost) and looked at the shingle plants and sea birds.

We collected pebbles and strandline objects and brought them back to the hall to consider what we could learn from observing them.

After a while I ran a seashore strandline quiz – including lots of pictures of the animals that the objects they had found actually came from such as cuttlefish and their eggs, dogfish and egg development sequence, rays, whelk eggs, etc.

The event finished with local and global links using Ed the Bear based at Shoreham Beach to consider how Shoreham beach is connected to the global ocean, how we benefit from the ocean (moderates our climate and weather, provides 50% of our oxygen etc) and how global issues (such as climate change and sea level rise might impact Shoreham beach and the nature reserve. Lots of images made the session very visual and also had an intriguing quiz element.

Despite the weather and the need to run more of the event inside – everyone seemed to have an enjoyable day. This event was funded by the Awards for All Heritage Lottery helping us to celebrate Shoreham Beach’s 10 years Anniversary as a Local Nature Reserve.

Sunday, 31 July 2016

Ed Bear at National Whale and Dolphin Watch UK

Ed the Bear helped run a sea mammal watch at Shoreham Beach Local Nature Reserve on 30th July to encourage local people to participate in National Whale and Dolphin Watch and to raise awareness of the seals and dolphins seen locally.

National Whale and Dolphin Watch is an annual event run by the Sea Watch Foundation a scientific charity dedicated to protecting UK whales and dolphins (cetaceans) since 1993. National Whale and Dolphin Watch is a citizen science based event which is now in its 15th year.

The local event was run as a joint Sea Watch Foundation and Friends of Shoreham Beach (I have been Sussex Regional Coordinator for the Sea Watch Foundation since 1993). This joint local event was funded by the Awards for All Heritage Lottery Funding

National Whale and Dolphin Watch provides a valuable annual snapshot of sea mammal activity across the 35 UK regional groups and is part of the foundations ongoing observation programme to survey and protect UK dolphins and whales which number a surprising 29 species.

The Shoreham watch started unofficially at 9.30am when I arrived to set up the display stand and took the first scan of the sea with binoculars. This first record of the day recorded the sea conditions at sea state 2, with a wind force of 2-3 from the SW. Cloud cover was 7/8 and the visibility was good.

The display stand provided information about the Sea Watch Foundation and also depicted some of the local dolphin and seal sightings including examples from this year.
There was also information about threats to sea mammals and the ocean including micro plastics and over nutrification of coastal waters caused by nitrates such as from detergents and water run-off from agricultural land.

The first person arrived just before the official start time of 10.00am and soon we had a small group of dedicated watchers. At 10.30am newly enlisted Sea Watch Volunteers Hannah and Neil arrived to help with the survey.

At about 10.50am a heavy downpour forced everyone to retreat from the beach.

Afterwards, some had gone home but 10 people returned to continue the watch. Interestingly, after the storm, the visibility increased to excellent and the wind dropped to force 2 and the sea condition to sea state 1 after the storm had passed through.

During the day more people arrived to take part with the watch, some by car, some on bicycle and some on foot.

The planned children’s activities run by Steve took place later than planned because of the weather. These included measuring out the length of blue whale (30m)
We then including some of the smaller species including bottlenose dolphin (3.5m), killer whale – orca (9m), humpback whale (15m) and sperm whale which at 20 metres is the largest toothed whale.

Objects for handling included a whale vertebrate,


sperm whale tooth

and baleen (from filter feeding minke whale). 

An activity also focused on threats to whales and dolphins.
We also investigated some of the strandline objects washed ashore and identified what we found - including these ray egg cases

The watch continued to 12.50pm (10 minutes short of the planned time when another heavy shower rolled in.

No sea mammals were seen during the watch, (but Steve reported to the watchers that a bottlenose dolphin was spotted at Seaford the previous day). Even so, negative data is also essential as part of the snap shot. Watchers were also encouraged to observe the sea birds which included herring and black-back gulls, terns (occasionally diving for fish), flock of turnstones feeding on the shore line and the occasional cormorant.

Shoreham Beach Nature Reserve leaflets were also handed out on the day, to participants and also to passing members of the public who came over to see what we were doing. A list of future events was included as part of the display stand and interested people were encouraged to visit the FoSB website and visit the events page. People taking part said they had enjoyed the event, despite the weather.

41 people took part in the actual watch and information was shared with passers-by.