Monday, 23 December 2013

Merry Christmas

Hi everyone

A merry Christmas from Ed and Bella. I hope you have a great Christmas, but don’t forget to recycle all that extra packaging that Christmas brings.

You may need to wait a bit longer for a recycling collection over Christmas and the New Year. They do a fantastic job and they deserve to have time off at Christmas too. We would be in a terrible mess without them.

Merry Christmas, Ed and Bella.

Thursday, 19 December 2013

Ed the Bear Visits Dirty Beach Exhibition TruCost Super M-Art

Hi all

Yesterday I visited the Onca Gallery in Brighton to see an exhibition called TruCost Super M-Art. The exhibition is laid out as a super market, but not one you will have been to before. Dirty Beach, a partnership between Brighton-based artist Lou McCurdy and eco-graffitist Chloe Hanksy, opened a unique supermarket in London Road, Brighton.
This ‘brand’ new supermarket will only display discarded plastic items found on UK beaches. The aim of the exhibition is to draw attention to the increasingly pressing issue of plastic pollution, waste and consumption using plenty of humour and irony as a powerful way to get the message across...
Some of the plastic debris was collected from my own beach at Shoreham, so I was keen to find out more about it. As you know, I have helped with beach cleans in many parts of the World from Sussex Beaches to global locations such as Florida and Hawaiian Island of Kauai.

While I was in Kauai I saw the Laysan albatross and the many albatross chicks that die because they are accidentally fed plastic debris by their parents.

I was gifted a scientific numbered leg band from an Albatross chick, to wear as a necklace, in memory of the death of albatross chicks in Hawaii.

You can find out more about the Laysan Albatross and my trip on my weblog  at

We do not have albatross in the UK but we do have a gull-like bird, the fulmar, which suffers from swallowing plastic debris.
As I went inside I noticed hanging from the ceiling were banners – like you find in a normal supermarket . The first thing I noticed was the rows upon rows of plastic bottles on shelves.

Many were clear drinking bottles but others were blue or different shapes and probably once held kitchen cleaning chemicals.
Then I turned and looked on another shelf and there were rows of plastic food containers…

...and tooth brushes and shavers…
...jars of bottle tops...

…and shoes and gloves

While it is possible to imagine that someone might drop the odd water bottle on the beach, the other food containers, tooth brushes etc should not even get anywhere near the sea.

While some animals swallow plastic others become entangled in it. This plastic was removed from cape fur seals I saw in South Africa.
Divers from the Two Oceans Aquarium cut this and other plastic from then lucky seals.

There were rows of disposable lighters and gun cartridges, many of these came from Shoreham Beach. As I have seen on my travels, one way that plastic debris can get into the ocean is via rivers.
The shot gun cartridges probably ended up on Shoreham Beach from the river Adur after being washed down from further up river. Many towns and villages were originally built by rivers because of the need for either drinking water (for humans and livestock) or as a means of travel and transportation. In modern times, the towns have grown and many people now live near rivers and plastic and other litter is frequently dropped or blown into rivers.

I have been lucky to have travelled to the Hawaiian Islands 3 times now and I have learned to speak a bit of the Hawaiian Language. One of the words they taught me was Kuleana pronounced koo-l-eh-ah-n-ah.

Kuleana ,means responsibility. Supermarkets (and all shops) have Kuleana for everything they sell and its possible impact on the environment. But we all have Kuleana as well for everything we buy and how we dispose of it and where possible reusing or recycling it.

One of the things used to make plastic is oil, which is a natural resource which is running out. So recycling and reusing plastic will help conserve the oil that is left. I have visited USA on many occasions. I found out that in America people buy more bottled water than any other nation in the world.
This adds 29 billion water bottles a year to the problem. To make these bottles, manufacturers use 17 million barrels of crude oil. That’s enough oil to keep a million cars going for twelve months. Imagine a water bottle filled a quarter of the way up with oil. That’s about how much oil was needed to produce the bottle.

It often takes less energy to recycle something than to create it new – so it can save energy and reduce the impact of its production on the environment. Recycling one plastic bottle can save enough energy to power a 60-watt light bulb for six hours.

As Bella will tell you  it also takes a lot of water to make plastic about 1.39 litres of water to make a single 1 litre bottle of water. But if you look at the whole supply chain from drilling for oil to transporting the finished bottle to the store-even more water is used. By recycling you will be doing more than just stopping plastic getting into to the ocean.
I also saw some of Lou McCurdy's fascinating beach art

There is still time to go along to see the exhibition, it ends on 22nd December.

If you can’t visit the exhibition, then please share this message. Think carefully about packaging when you are shopping, reuse what you can and recycle things you can’t reuse. Remember, we all have Kuleana




Sunday, 10 November 2013

Ed the Bear at Primary Science Teachers Conferences at Dungeness

15th October and 8th November, Ed the Bear and Bella (his sister) share their project with primary science teachers in Kent and the projects cross curriculum approach to water science. Ed the Bear with his local and global ocean project and Bella Bears freshwater Project (

The conference focused on the new changes to the science curriculum and various speakers provided presentations

Ed has never been to Dungeness before so he does a bit of exploring of his own.
The bird hides provide a great chance to see some of the aquatic birds up close.

A flock of lapwings

A great crested grebe

A patient heron waits for the chance to lunge at a passing fish
 Ed could also see the nearby nuclear power station - a bit scary for a little bear

Ed also explored a few rabbit burrows but no one was home.

The visitors centre where the conferences took place were further inland than the vegetated shingle habitat. Ed hoped he would get to see some but it was too far from his tiny legs.

The pebbles at Shoreham get moved along by the waves, this is called long shore drift. Many of those pebbles end up at Dungeness.

Both conferences were a great success.

Monday, 28 October 2013

The trouble with sea foam

Hi all
When I was at the marine educator’s conference in Plymouth back in early September I learned about sea foam from a group of scientists studying this in the English Channel and North Sea. While the foam looks like an over spill from a washing machine, it’s not from washing powder. The foam can be a sign of damage being caused to the oceans, by due to human activities, called Eutrophication (big word!). While nutrients are vitally essential for the marine environment (its food for many animals and plants), it is thought that the natural amount of nutrients in the water is often dramatically increased by human activities.
The most common nutrients causing eutrophication are nitrogen and phosphorus and these enter rivers and the ocean from water run-off from agricultural land from industry and, from households, including phosphorus-based detergents.
The scientist said algae (plant plankton) are a vital part of marine food webs and algae need nutrients to grow but when there is too high a level of these nutrients it can cause an algal bloom. This means the algae multiply in vast numbers to feed on the extra nutrients.  The algae die and they are eaten by bacteria. This sounds good so far.  But the problem is that the bacteria use up lots of oxygen which means the animals living on the seabed might not get any oxygen to breathe. That sounds a huge problem!
When it is stormy the dead remains of the algae are stirred up by the waves and the wind making foam. I was very concerned to find that we had a lot of sea foam on Brighton Beach and also on my beach at Shoreham. The pebbles were covered in a blanket of white.
I have contacted the scientists about our beach foam and I am waiting to find out if they think it happened because of eutrophication. The scientists monitor the sea using satellites that can see the algae blooms. I will let you know if I find out more.
Bye for now
Ed the Bear

Saturday, 21 September 2013

Worthing Beach Clean Event for Marine Conservation Society Survey


I am here on Worthing Beach with my buddy Steve helping out at a beach clean event. As you know I have helped clean up beaches around the world and also seen many animals that have died from swallowing plastic or who have become entangled.

The event is part of the Marine Conservation Society annual beach clean when they encourage as many people as possible around the UK to clean their local beach and record all the litter they find. This is part of a very important survey that the Marine Conservation Society do each year to monitor if the litter problem is getting worst and what types of litter are found on the beach and when possible - where it comes from. you can find out more on the link below

The beach event is organised locally by Transition Town a group who are making Worthing more sustainable in the way they do things and the way people live.

Lots of people turned up to sign up for the day

The nearby Fish Factory cooked a big paella of fresh sustainably caught sea food, so every one could have  a free portion before they headed off to the beach.

Groups of people had a section of the beach to clean and monitor.

We also had another job to do. While the people where collecting all the litter, Steve and I collected some natural animal objects washed up on the beach so we could tell people more about the animals that live off the coast.
We found several types of sea sponges, as well as seashells, cuttlefish bones and other interesting finds.

Also crab shells, this is a masked crab.

We saw some natural recyclers, carrion crows helping to clean the beach of dead animal remains when they scavenge for food.

And a little flock of wading birds called turnstones feeding on the waters edge.
They are called turnstones because they can flip pebbles and seaweed over with their beak to find tiny animals underneath that they feed on, such as sand hoppers.

We were also monitoring the ray and dogfish egg cases we found washed up. The egg cases are empty when they wash up on the beach. The shape is slightly different for various ray species.
If a lot of the same species get washed up on the same stretch of coast it may mean there is a nursery ground off shore. Many of our rays are endangered and finding their nursery grounds and protecting them will hopefully help.

This project is run by the Shark Trust and anyone can send in records of ray egg cases. You can find out more on the link below
This is a dogfish egg case, a type of cat shark that lives near the sea bed. We found many of these egg cases as well. A few larger shark species also visit Sussex water, including the blue shark, porbeagle shark and smoothhound. Earlier this year a basking shark, the second largest shark species, was seen off Brighton. The biggest sharks I have seen are great white sharks when visit shark experts Chris and Monique Fallows in South Africa last year.

At the end of the beach clean, all the rubbish was weighed and the information about all the litter collected was sent to the Marine Conservation Society.

Tomorrow we are doing our beach clean on Shoreham Beach and also surveying the litter to send to the Marine Conservation Society.

Thursday, 12 September 2013

Newspaper article about the conference

Hi all

Here is a news paper article about the conference we took part in.