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 http://amazonworkshops.com/

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 http://www.railwaylandlive.org/ 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 http://www.railwaylandproject.org/ 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  http://www.fosbeach.com/education-on-shoreham-beach/

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

Thursday, 2 April 2015

A great time in Tenerife part 1

Hi all

Its been a busy year so I have just been on my holidays with my buddy Steve. We went to Tenerife, you may remember I visited in 2012 to find out about the island and its wildlife. Also because the volcano, Teide, is a World Heritage Site

I thought it would be a great place to visit to relax.
This is Los Gigantes Beach, and the Los Gigantes Cliffs are awesome. It was peaceful sitting on the beach enjoying the hot sun on my fur. 
The sand is black because it came from the volcanic rock as it has eroded and become sand. A shadow was cast over me and I looked up to see an osprey circled low over the beach.

It is a magnificent bird, but it wasn't interested in anything on the beach - the osprey is a fish eater and a pair nest on the rugged cliff face overlooking the sea.

I ran down to the sea for a paddle, the reason I ran was because the black sand gets very hot. I stood in the shallows cooling my paws when I saw a shoal of fish swim by.
Then a seabird called a tern flew past and after circling it dived into the sea to catch a fish.
On the rocks were bright red crabs. Some where eating the green algae that had been exposed at lowtide.

Others seemed to be sunbathing!

As I paddled in the sea I noticed that there were a number of plastic bags in the sea and also other items such as a plastic spoon.

Sadly these items come from people using the beach.

So the next day I took part in a beach clean to collect some of the plastic. We collected some plastic items but not as many as I thought that we would. I found out why 2 days later when I visited another beach called Medano. Its often very windy of the beach and its perfect for the wind surfers and kite surfers.

I saw a man on the beach with a special net. It was like a fishing net but he was scooping up the sand. Because the hot sun dries out the sand it soon become very powdery. The man was wearing a yellow t-shirt that said Socorrista. Then another man came by with the same t shirt and picked up some plastic bottles. 
I asked him what he did and he said he was a life guard. I don't speak very good Spanish but luckily he could speak quite good English.

He told me that part of his days work was to pick up plastic bottles or scoop up small bits of litter that people leave on the beach. This means it gets removed from the beach before it can get washed into the sea.  I thought this was a great idea.

Later on I found out that this only happens on the beaches that are tourist areas or sandy beaches for swimming. On the rocky beaches people drop plastic and cans and they either stay in the rock crevices or they end up in the sea.

I walked the sandy beach. I did not find any litter (which was good) but I did find this beautiful crab shell. 
Crabs shed off their old shell after growing a new on underneath. So maybe the actual crab was still alive and living in the sea.

More about my trip soon

Ed the Bear