Friday, 30 October 2009

Fun in Kauai


As you can see I am still here in Kauai. As well as meeting lots of animals I have also met lots of Hawaiian people. They are very proud of their culture and heritage, but they are very friendly too. I found out that Papahanaumokua is Earth Mother. Wakea is Sky Father. They gave birth to all the Hawaiian islands, beginning with Pihemanu (Midway Atoll). This is where Fred started his journey of exploration and teaching about ocean at the very birthplace of all the islands he loves so much. This is also where his new best buddy, Barack Obama, was born too.

I also meet lots of children (Keiki) and they were very friendly and I learned a lot about how Hawaiian's think about water and the oceans. Water is Wai (Vie) and the word Wai also means wealth, so it is obvious how much value they place on water. It is also very clear that they also see oceans as fun. Water fun means going fishing for papio from the shore, swimming, going out in boats for ahi (yellow fin tuna) and going out surfing. Ahi also means fire in Hawaiian. In olden times Hawaiians went fishing for tuna in outrigger canoes and the line would go out so fast over the side that it would make smoke.

Fred seemed rather amused by the fact that I had never surfed before and he said that you can't visit the Hawaiian Islands without learning to surf.

According to Fred, Barack Obama invented surfing. However I did a bit of reading in a really great book which Fred's sister leant to me. It is THE GIRL'S GUIDE TO SURFING by Andrea McCloud. According to Hawaiian legend, surfing was invented by Pele the volcano goddess and she taught her sister, Hi'iaka. Surfing was not merely a pastime for the leaders of old. This sport served as a training exercise meant to keep chiefs in top physical condition. The arrival of missionaries in the late 18th Century changed many things for the Hawaiian people and their culture and surfing was banned. But not for ever, as surfing is again an important part of the Hawaiian culture. Surfing spread to California, Australia and even to the UK.

So what can I say, when Fred and some children offered to teach me to surf I couldn't say no. It was great fun althought I don't think I was very good. Fred said I did very well. So below is a photo of me and fred surfing with a local keiki (kid) out at Hanapepe on Kaua'i.

I had a great time with locals at the beach and had so much fun, this boy wanted to take me home with him.

In earlier times, Ed and Fred would have gotten to surf on boards made from the spongy wood of the wili wili. but there are few wili wili around. But Fred now refuses to surf on any plastic board and is awaiting his very own traditional Alaia board, being shaped for him by an Australian surfer and board maker.

Later we had good times at the Farmer's market where he met people growing lettuce, big avocado cilantro, and other vegetables. Us bears like our meat and fish, but as omnivores I am also partial to some berries and plants too.


Ed the Bear

Thursday, 29 October 2009

Aloha from Kauai, one of the Hawaiian Islands

Hi all or should I say Aloha

I have just arrived on the Hawaiian Island of Kauai with Fred and Ron. Wow, what a beautiful place.

I had heard that the Hawaiian Islands were stunningly beautiful but even so I did not expect this. I always wondered what the expression "takes your breath away" means. Now I know.

I e-mailed my sister Bella to see if she could find out some information about Kauai for me. This is what she sent me.

Kauai is the oldest of the main Hawaiian Islands - these islands make up the 50th State of the USA. Kauai is home to Wai'ale'ale, the wettest place on earth, meaning "rippling water" or "overflowing water. This mountain rises up 5,028 feet (1524 m) above sea level but much of it is hidden behind the clouds and the whole mountain can only be seen about 20 days a year. The slopes are covered with stunning mountain rain forest which is not surprising as about 460 inches (1168.4 cm) of rain falls here each year. This rain feeds the source for all of the rivers, many of the waterfalls, and a lot of the streams that can be found on Kauai. No wonder it is also known as the Garden Island.

I came here to find out more about the albatross and the dangers that they face from plastic litter. Bella tells me its not just the albatross that are threatened. There has been a great loss of native plants and animals, in fact more species are endangered in the Hawaiian islands than in all the other 49 United States combined. It is likely that many species remain to be discovered in the fragile rainforests of the uplands, some people say they may be the most endangered rainforest on earth.

I have arrived too late to see the O'o bird which disappeared in about 1991, this little bird lived in the surrounding rainforests. Like many other native Hawaiian birds, the O'o is extinct because of habitat changes, introduced predators, and disease. Bella tells me that the Kaua'i O'o, was the smallest of the honey eating birds in the Hawaiian Islands, measuring only 20 centimeters long. It was black (or grey) with yellow markings on the legs and underbelly and used to sip nectar from the flowers of local trees on the island, its favorite being the Lobelia tree. O'o would also eat insects and flowers as well.

It is said that the Kauai O'o made beautiful song, with its musical, flute-like calls. Both males and females sang, and the sound was said to be truly touching. It must be a sad lost. We have blackbirds back home which I enjoy listening to. Their song is also described as flute-like and I would certainly miss their beautiful song if they were to disappear.

Bella, who is a bit of a movie buff has also discovered that scenes from many movies were filmed on Kauai. Maybe I will get to see where they were filmed. While I am here I will be staying with Fred, Ron and his wife Brenda, in a little secluded house down an old dirt road, sounds perfect.

Well since I arrived I have been helping Fred to collect sand samples to check for micro-plastics. Fred took me to collect sand at Moloa'a where Gilligan's Island was first filmed and Papaa Bay where the crash scene and encampment of Harrison Ford and Ann Heche was filmed in Six Days and Seven Nights. Bella will be so jealous! King Kong, Jurassic Park, and other movies were also filmed around the island because of its spectacular land and waterscape.

You may remember me mentioning micro plastics before. These are tiny pieces of plastic, the result of larger pieces of plastic litter breaking down in the oceans, which are then eaten by fish and plankton. These tiny pieces of plastic often absorb pollutants making them doubly dangerous to animals that swallow them. And of course, when the plankton and small fish are eaten by larger animals, they get these pollutants too. we are checking for these tiny pieces of plastic in beach sand samples.

Guess what, while Fred and me rested on the beach we were joined by one of Fred's friends Pia.
She is a beautiful green turtle, Fred told me that honu is Hawaiian for green turtle. Pia has been coming up on this beach on the sunny south shore for about ten years. Turtles are very long lived animals, and Pia said that at one time the ocean was not always full of rubbish. She says she comes ashore to rest because she gets so tired of getting bonked in the head by plastic bottles and poked in the eye by plastic toys and lighters and pens and stuff like that. Pia told us that her ancestors used to come ashore right here in this very spot to nest. Honu can't do that anymore because the sunny south shore is filled with tourist places. Last time her auntie tried nesting here on the sand, the keiki (little ones) all got out of the nest and went up to the lights shining from the human tourists buildings, being confused by what had not been there before. She guesses they thought the bright city lights were the light of the moon on the waves (nalu) which newly hatched turtle follow to find their way to the sea. We sat and chatted for a while and then Pia went back in the sea.

Bye for now

P.s. Bella says that Eki means Ed in Hawaiian (don't know if she is right)

Sunday, 25 October 2009

Plastic Free Friday

Hi all

While Prime Minister Gordon Brown meets to discuss global issues with other countries, Fred the monkey has organised a meeting with representatives from different animal "nations" to find a way that we can protect animal life from death by plastic. Fred told me he has been in contact with president Obama. He said the president wants Fred to talk story with as many animals as possible, getting the unbiased accounts of the earth's environmental problems.

The meeting included myself, Shark from the Open Ocean, Humuhumu from the Big Island, Monk Seal from Kauai, and Fred's buddy Redfooted Booby who snuck back with Fred from Pihemanu out at Papahanaumokuakea, we decided to do this for our friends the Albatrosses.....

As you can see in this photo at our high level meeting at the beach, Fred is wearing still more leg bands from albatrosses who died young due to markers, toothbrushes, toys, bottle caps, lighters, water bottles, and other plastic entering the sea daily by the tons. The result of our meeting, PLASTIC FREE FRIDAYS which is our way of saying no to plastics.
We ask you to avoid buying any drink in plastic bottles, any food wrapped in plastic, and any toy or other thing you might use made from plastic this, and every Friday.

You can find out more about Fred and this declaration of PLASTIC FREE FRIDAYS on his own weblog
Check it out and see what you can do to promote plastic free Fridays and find out what else Fred has been up to.

Bye for now


Saturday, 24 October 2009

Ed meets Fred


I arrived safely and I'm now here on Marrowstone Island. No time to rest though, I got straight to work with Fred the Monkey to help clean up Marrowstone Beaches. It was a big job since there was a storm last night and it washed up all kinds of plastic bottles, caps, a broken frisbee, some tires, and even a toothbrush. I told Fred about UK Oceans and the beach clean work I do back home. I explained that often nearly half of the litter is left behind by beach visitors and so if we can stop that we will have halved the problem.

Fred also introduced me to some of the ocean wildlife nearby. It appears that many of the marine animals realise something is not right. We exchanged stories with some surf scooters just down from Alaska. They say that every year they lose more and more of their friends and relatives but they don't know why or where the other birds go to. We talked to ONE western grebe, all we could find. She said her kind is disappearing from earth. Don't know why.

Humans often don't realise that many of us animals can understand each other quite well. I can't talk to all animals though. For example mice are too quite and ants talk to each other using special smells. I watched a crab once doing a strange dance on the sand and clicking his claws, but I don't really know what he was saying either.

I saw some furry little otters swim by and they said they had big trouble because their kelp forest home was disappearing here on the island. We don't have sea otters in the UK. There used to be many river otters in Sussex but now most have disappeared because they were hunted for their fur and in more recent times their habitat has been damaged. The otters didn't hang around for long though because all of a sudden whoosh! 40 or more killer whales appeared. I have never seen a killer whale before, they were so beautiful and graceful. They didn't hang around for long either before they swam off majestically, diving and spouting at the surface.

And then, guess what, Fred gave me a special gift. You may remember me telling you that Fred wore a leg band from an albatross X310. Fred gave me a leg band of my own, from another albatross chick that did not live long enough to fly. Fred asked me to wear the band in memory of the albatross X360 and to remember the Pacific Ocean animals. I hope that the people back in the UK will be as touched by the sad tale as I was when I first heard about the reason why Fred wore a band with the number X360. (see my previous report below). I hope I will get the chance to find out more about these amazing birds and see them doing what they were born to do - fly.

Thanks Fred for such as special day.

Bye for now


Wednesday, 21 October 2009

Next stop, Washingtion State USA

Hi all

I am on my way at last, next stop Marrowstone Island in Washington State to visit Fred the Monkey and his mate Ron Hirschi.

This is my route (in red) from the UK to Marrowstone Island in Washington State

Fred has been doing some fantastic work raising awareness of the damage cause by plastic debris to wildlife and the environment. In fact he wears a leg band X310 from an Albatross from Pihemanu in Hawaii. The band was attached to the leg of a beautiful albatross chick by scientists hoping to find out more about the lives of these amazing birds.

Adult albatross fly more than a million miles in their life time but sadly, this albatross chick didn't even survive long enough to fledge. She died from swallowing plastic litter.

Sadder still is that X310 was not the first chick to die from plastic and she will not be the last. I thought we had a big problem with plastic back in the UK, but the death of these birds is a tragedy. Worst still, most of the plastic debris floats to Hawaii from other countries.

I plan to find out more about this terrible problem and learn more about these magnificent albatross. Hopefully Fred will also be able to show me around his beaches too and compare what marine life lives there.

Bye for now


Sunday, 18 October 2009

Beach Clean Event

Here I am back on Shoreham Beach to help out at a litter clean event organised by the Friends of Shoreham Beach. Litter is a big problem on many of our beaches and Shoreham Beach is sadly no different. Not only does this litter make the beach look very messy but it is also very harmful to wildlife.

This is Joy introducing me to all the volunteers who have come to help clean the beach.

As you can see there were a lot of volunteers, (50 in total) a mixed group of helpers of all ages. They worked really hard cleaning up the litter. My legs are very short and it was a bit hard for me to keep up, walking on all those pebbles, so two girls, Eva and Alice carried me for a while in their back pack.

We collected almost 30 bags of litter in total, phew! This is us all having a well deserved break.

Out of all the different types of litter found on the beach the most common material is plastic. This does more damage to wildlife, in and out of the water, than any other type of litter. A million sea birds and 100, 000 marine mammals around the world die each year from being entangled in, or by swallowing, plastic litter. About 30 - 40% of the litter found on the beach is left behind by beach visitors. This means that if we could encourage people to take it home instead of leaving it on the beach this would make a big difference.
Better still, people can take their litter home and recycle it along with the rest of their household rubbish. Removing all the plastic rubbish in the ocean is impossible. We can all help though by making sure no more plastic ends up in the ocean. Recycling can also save oil, as this is used to make new plastic items.

At the Eco Schools conference we took part in all the participants (including ourselves) were given a bag like the one below.

It may be hard to believe but this bag was made from recycled plastic bottles. I hope you all recycle as much of your household rubbish as you can.

Bye for now


Thursday, 15 October 2009

Ed takes part in eco schools conference

Today I took part in an eco-schools conference run by Brighton and Hove City Council attended by local school teachers planning to make their schools more sustainable. Steve and I took along a stand about my intended worldwide travels to raise awareness of the damage humans are doing to the oceans. Schools are making a valuable contribution to tackling global issues by making changes that save energy, run recycling projects, develop their grounds for wildlife etc.

Our stand included information and pictures about my local beach at Shoreham, its rare vegetated shingle habitat and the concerns that sea level rise and other global issues may damage this fascinating beach.

There were also pictures about some of beautiful marine life and the locations I am planning to visit, including my US Tour starting January 2010. There were also pictures showing the damage being done to wildlife. About 1 million sea birds and 100,000 sea mammals die each year when they swallow or become entangled in marine litter. Global warming is causing corals to die and food webs to be disrupted.

There was a lot of enthusiasm and interest from many of the teachers and we have given them the address for this weblog. Hopefully the teachers and children will be able to follow my adventures.

Leave me a message in the comments about the things you are doing to save energy or reduce litter.

Bye for now