Friday, October 22, 2010

Blue Carbon Around the World

On October 10, 2010, people all over the world joined in what’s been described as the biggest day of environmental activism in history. Groups from 188 developed and developing nations participated in more than 7,000 activities as part of’s annual “Global Work Party” to mobilize action on climate change and address greenhouse gas pollution.

The 10/10/10 Global Work Party was not only intended to publicize the need to combat climate change but also to do something about it.

Events around the world included the planting of vegetable gardens, cycling instead of driving, installing solar panels, climate change lectures and rallies, and the cleaning up of local environments.

Blue carbon ‘solutions’ included – Groups involved in the restoration and conservation of many coastal and marine habitats actually also helped restore the oceans natural carbon function and mitigate climate change!

When healthy, certain marine ecosystems such as seagrass meadows, mangrove forests and saltwater marshlands absorb atmospheric carbon dioxide and thereby help mitigate the threat of climate change. These ‘blue carbon’ ecosystems are extremely effective at storing carbon – mangroves and coastal wetlands store 50 times more carbon than tropical forests by area. Conversely, the continued loss of these ecosystems decreases the ocean’s existing carbon stock and its capacity to mitigate climate change.

The conservation and restoration of blue carbon ecosystems can play a significant role in our actions to address climate change. Groups around the world – from Belize to Thailand – planted mangroves, conserved wetlands, and restored seagrass meadows and associated marine  habitats.

Blue carbon habitats, many of which are threatened, are also vital for marine biodiversity and the economies of many coastal communities - through tourism revenue and countless commercial and recreational fisheries.

The Global Work Party may be over, but our efforts are not. The following is a sample of blue carbon events that occurred around the world as part of the 10/10/10 Global Work Party for action on climate change. They represent marine conservation’s potential future as a positive and viable part of the solution to climate change.

Let’s make it happen! –

Belize, Caye Caulker – Mangrove planting
Mangroves were planted at Caye Caulker (north island) as part of the 10/10/10 global day of action on climate change. The event was a joint action by Caye Caulker Ocean Academy students and environmentalists and biologists from the Forest and Marine Reserves Association of Caye Caulker (FAMRACC). Other activities included environmental data collection and coastal restoration (beach clean-up).

Canada, Victoria – Seagrass meadow restoration and conservation
Seagrass meadows were restored by volunteers as part of efforts for action on climate change. The role that healthy seagrass meadows play in storing atmospheric carbon, and thereby helping to mitigate climate change, was highlighted in lectures during the event – the ‘Mudboots Party.’ Groups involved included Sierra Club BC, Seagrass Conservation Working Group, and Mayne Island Conservancy. Rockfish Divers supplied a dive boat in support of the event.

Fiji, Navua – Mangrove planting
Mangroves were planted by local students as part of a day of action on climate change organized by the Pacific Youth Climate Change Network.

Ghana, Sekondi – Mangrove planting and habitat restoration
The ‘Mangrove Conservation Festival’ was held as action for climate change mitigation on 10/10/10. Mangrove seedlings were planted and mangrove habitat was cleaned of debris by local students, officials, and business leaders. The event was organized by the Coastal Resources Center (CRC-Ghana) in collaboration with Crisis Action Solutions (CASOLS) and supported by Friends of the Nation (FoN) at the Essei Lagoon, Bakano in Sekondi, Ghana.

Indonesia, Jaboi, Pulau Weh – Mangrove planting
Mangrove seedlings were planted as part of the “Mangrove: Save the Reef, Save the Planet” event to highlight climate action on 10/10/10.

Maldives Marine conservation (underwater clean-up)
An underwater clean-up was held as part of the Global Work Party for action on climate change. Plastic was and other debris removed from the seas and reefs. The event was organized by the Feydhoo Youth Community and received support from the Maldives National Defense Force (MNDF).

Nauru Marine conservation (underwater clean-up)
Divers took the plunge to clean-up marine habitats including coral reefs as part of a week long event of action on climate change on the smallest island nation of the world, Nauru (8.1 square miles). The “10/10/10 Reefers” event was organized by the Nauru National Youth Council (Image courtesy Wikimedia Commons).

Philippines, various locations – Seagrass conservation
The ‘Seagrass Initiative Information Campaign’ was launched by the Bayer Young Environmental Envoys in the Philippines to promote the cause of climate action and marine sustainability (Image courtesy Wikimedia Commons).

Philippines, Lapu-Lapu, Cebu – Coastal wetland conservation
Coastal wetland conservation and protection from marine debris was called for as part of action on climate change at the Olango Island Bird Sanctuary.

Philippines, Sagay City, Negros Occ. – Mangrove planting
A day of mangrove planting for local children (Eco-Kids) was organized by the Museo Sang Bata Sa as a message for action to address climate change – it’s fun to plant mangroves!

Spain, Formentera – Seagrass conservation
Seagrass conservation was highlighted in efforts to raise climate awareness. Pierre-Yves Cousteau and Diletta Carmellini, of Cousteau Divers, are pictured in one of Spain’s Posidonia ocenica seagrass prairies. The site was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1999 (image by Manu San Felix).

Sri Lanka, Kiula – Mangrove planting and wetland conservation
Several schools were mobilized for mangrove planting and wetland conservation. 250 mangrove plants and 100 pandanus plants were planted as part of the solution to climate change and to urge politicians to pass clean energy policies.

Timor-Leste, Dili, Bidau Santana – Mangrove planting
Government officials joined hundreds in the planting of mangrove trees as part of the call for action on climate change.

Thailand, Upper Andaman Coast – Mangrove planting and conservation
A two day youth environmental seminar was held as part of the Global Work Party for action on climate change. Participants also planted mangrove seedlings for coastal projection. The event, the Second Annual Youth Network Seminar, was co-organized by Mangrove Action Project (MAP)-Asia Regional Office. Other groups involved included IUCN, Andaman Discoveries, Wetlands International, and Thailand Environment Institute. Sixty youth from coastal villages participated and learned about sustainable resource management, climate change and the importance of mangrove forests.

Tonga Mangrove planting and conservation
Mangroves were planted and coastal debris removed as part of events advancing action on climate change. The event was organized by the Tonga National Youth Congress.

USA, Miami, FL – Coastal habitat restoration and conservation
Volunteers helped restore coastal habitat and conservationists held a climate and clean energy rally on Miami Beach as part of an extended weekend of action for climate change. Invasive species were removed as part of the restoration efforts at Oleta State River Park - Florida’s largest urban park, and includes extensive mangrove habitat. The value of a healthy marine environment was incorporated into the climate rally.

Those involved the Miami's 10/10/10 events included Urban Paradise Guild, Branches Florida City, 1Sky, Konbit Haiti, Surfrider, Sierra Club, Greenpeace, Blue Climate Solutions, 1Sky, Greenpeace, Emerge Miami, Oceana, ECOMB, Top Green Magazine, Repower America, Florida International University Students for Environmental Action, and many others.

USA, Fort Myers, FL – Mangrove planting
Florida Gulf Coast University students and faculty planted mangroves in Fort Myers, FL, as part of the Global Work Party for action on climate change. Mangroves were planted as an “investment in offsetting the carbon dioxide produced by the campus.” Over 80 students and faculty members participated.

Many thanks to the Mangrove Action Project, Tonga National Youth Congress, Rainbow Warriors International, and Bill Mckibben of for help in compiling this review.

-Steven Lutz, Blue Climate Solutions

Additional information:

Blue Climate Solutions, Mangrove Action Project, and Urban Paradise Guild are also members of the Blue Climate Coalition, an international partnership of over 70 groups and 150 marine scientists from 33 countries drawn together in advancing blue carbon policies. Coalition actions have included the issuing of key support statements to the US White House, Congress, and government agencies. We are currently looking for support and additional groups for our next round of Coalition letters (contact: steven.lutz {at}

UNEP report: “Blue Carbon - The Role of Healthy Oceans in Binding Carbon”, available at:

IUCN report: “The Management of Natural Coastal Carbon Sinks”, available at:

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Save a Whale - Save the Planet

17 Oct 2010 | Miami FL -- Many thanks to Samantha Whitcraft, of Oceanic Defense, and Cynthia Aguilar, of, for hosting a fantastic oceans event last night.

The “One Person Can Make A Difference For Our Oceans” celebration-fundraiser, was a great opportunity to meet leading environmental advocates working together to protect our oceans.

The event was held at Florida Room of the Delano Hotel on Miami Beach. Featured speakers included Samantha, Cynthia, Shelby Proie of, and Captain Pete Bethune - a marine conservation VIP - featured on Animal Planet’s Whale Wars series, captain of Earthrace, and formerly with Sea Shepard Society.

Pete was in town for an ocean education and activation weekend, which included a dolphin conservation rally and a Community Forum at the University of Miami’s Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science (RSMAS).

Whale carbon discussed with Captain Pete Bethune, of Animal Planet’s Whale Wars series (right). Steven Lutz, of Blue Climate Solutions (left).

I had an opportunity to chat with Pete at the Community Forum and at last night’s celebration-fundraiser. We discussed the value of whale conservation as climate change mitigation. Pete is heavily involved in the conservation of whales and it looks like his work may also help counter climate change:

Whale Carbon - New research, from Canada and the US, points to the potential role that the conservation of whales and large fish can play as part of the solution to climate change.

The researchers found that carbon naturally accumulates in the bodies of whales, and that this carbon is sequestered - out of the atmosphere - for the life time of the animal. Individual whales can store a lot of carbon, amounts only exceeded by the largest trees. Those that die natural deaths - not whaled - transport their carbon to the ocean depths, away from the atmosphere, and thereby helping to mitigate climate change.

The over fishing of whales and large fish reduces the amount of carbon stored in these populations and lessens the ocean’s capacity to mitigate climate change. Conversely, if we restore whale populations we are also restoring the ocean’s natural carbon function. According to the researchers:

Rebuilding the blue whale population of the southern hemisphere would sequester the same carbon as preserving 43,000 hectares (166 square miles) of temperate forest, about the size of Los Angeles.

The Southern Ocean blue whale population has been reportedly reduced by more than 99 percent. Re-establishing this population may also mitigate climate change (Image: Mike Baird, Wikimedia Commons).

It may be very early days for whale carbon related policies - however the concept has potential broad implications for the management of marine resources and the global carbon market, currently worth an estimated $170 billion.

-Steven Lutz, Blue Climate Solutions

For more information see:

Whales and Large Fish Mitigate Carbon Emissions (Blue Carbon Blog)

Ocean Education and Activation Weekend (Oceanic Defense Blog)

Thursday, October 14, 2010

The Whale Pump

More on the contributions of whales (feces) and primary productivity.

Two questions come to mind: (1) does all whale feces float and for how long?; and (2) can we learn anything regarding oceanic carbon function from this?

Whales Help Fertilize Ocean With Floating Dung

by Joe Palca / NPR / October 11, 2010

A dwarf minke whale swims near the Great Barrier Reef. Scientists say whale dung can help feed hungry fish near the surface of the ocean (Kike Calvo/AP).

Whales may have a new group of cheerleaders. They've always been popular with marine conservationists, but new research suggests that the fishing industry may also want to adopt the slogan "Save the Whales."

The reason starts with algae. Algae range in size from single-celled organisms to giant kelp plants. Some live near the surface of the ocean, and these algae need nitrogen to grow.

"They need other nutrients as well, but in the system we looked at, the limiting nutrient tends to be nitrogen," says Joe Roman, a conservation biologist at the University of Vermont. "That's the first nutrient they use up."

Roman says once the algae use up the nitrogen, they eventually die and sink to the bottom, taking the nitrogen with them. Sometime fish eat the algae, but then they poop, and the nitrogen sinks to the bottom in the fish poop.

"Whales, on the other hand, often feed at depth," says Roman. "So they feed low in the water column. And they're consistently seen pooping at the surface."

How does Roman know whales poop at the surface? Because he went out and watched.

"And we were following the whales and collecting feces whenever there was poop at the surface," he says.

This diagram shows how nutrients from whale dung move through the ocean ecosystem (Courtesy of the University of Vermont).

Droppings That Float

The difference between whale poop and fish poop is that whale poop tends to float, or at least stay near the surface.

This is significant, because when Roman took the whale poop back to his lab, he found it was rich in nitrogen. So the whales were bringing that essential nutrient that had sunk to the bottom back to the surface.

"So, essentially, by defecating at the surface, they are fertilizing their own areas where they are feeding," he says.

Not only were there more algae, there were also increased numbers of fish. That's because fish thrive on algae.

Worthy Whales

Roman says the finding that whales may be helping to feed their fishy friends comes as something of a surprise.

"Often whales are seen by some communities as competitors," says Roman. "Here, we're showing that whales can actually provide a service."

This isn't the first time scientists have suspected that whales and large fish play a role in moving nutrients from one part of the ocean to another.

"The real question is whether this is a net gain in the system, or what the whales are really doing is just speeding up the cycling," says Andrew Pershing, a research scientist at the Gulf of Maine Research Institute and the University of Maine.

Winds or storms can move nutrients from the bottom of the ocean to the surface. Nobody knows yet how much of a difference the whales really make.

"It's a lot like an accounting problem," says Pershing. "Are you just sort of trading money around within your local economy, or is there actually a net increase in the GDP?"

In this case it's not money we're talking about, but manure — or nitrogen, if you want to get technical. Pershing says Roman's work is bound to get scientists thinking more about the role of large marine mammals in ocean ecosystems.

See also:

Whale Poop Pumps Up Ocean Health (ScienceDaily):

Journal Reference:

Peter Roopnarine, Joe Roman, James J. McCarthy. The Whale Pump: Marine Mammals Enhance Primary Productivity in a Coastal Basin. PLoS ONE, 2010; 5 (10): e1325. (available on-line)

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

10/10/10 - ain’t no power like the power of the people

10/10/10 - ain’t no power like the power of the people

October 11th, 2010 11:37 am ET | R.J. Peters

On October 10th, 2010 in approximately 188 countries with over 6,000 events world-wide, young and old alike gathered in solidarity to demand Comprehensive Climate Legislation on this day. Why?

Because over three years ago leading climatologists observed rapid ice melt in the Arctic and other signs of climate change. A series of studies were instituted as a result. These studies showed [the planet faced both human and natural disaster if atmospheric concentrations of CO2 remained above 350 ppm (parts per million)].[1] We are currently up to 393 ppm according to a couple of Greenpeace representatives. And we do seem to be having more than our fair share of natural disasters this year. Rewind to:

Back in July of 2010, hopes for a comprehensive Climate Bill literally fell apart when Democrats announced they were giving up as the Republicans flat out refused to support any such legislation—and then threatened with a filibuster.

So, fast-forward to October when along with Greenpeace,, Top Green Magazine,, Blue Climate Solutions and several independents organized to send a message to Congress.

Enough! It’s time for Climate Legislation. And locally over 50 people gathered on South Miami Beach chanting, “Ain’t no power like the power of the people, ‘cause the power of the people won’t stop.” (Among other chants) And I had an opportunity to speak with several reps; one was Renee Hickman a lead organizer for Greenpeace.

I asked Ms. Hickman the purpose of the event. Her response was immediate. “We’re here today to demand that our politicians, our leaders and candidates get to work protecting people and not polluters.” And how are you going to do that, I asked. She informed me that there would be several photos of this day’s event and the photos would be uploaded to the 350 website to show our feelings and to let the politicians know how we feel about what’s going on.

I’m pretty sure if you visit the or the Greenpeace website you’ll see those pictures and possibly a petition to send to your congressmen and I strongly urge you to do just that.

So, I then found a couple of reps from Top Green Magazine.

Tony Lopez of Top Green Magazine told me he was there ‘to inform and create consciousness’ regarding the environment. The main goal of Top Green, he informed me, was to ban plastic bags. He went on to tell me plastic bags are not biodegradable, they are photo-degradable. Essentially, that means they don’t break down completely; rather they decompose into smaller polymers over an extended period of time—they never really recycle. And this plastic or polymer debris winds up in our oceans. Once there, this disassociated plastic material is mistaken for Plankton by sea life and wind up being consumed, thereby compromising animal DNA and causing countless types of disease. And we wind up eating these animals. You are what you eat, I thought to myself.

Tony went on to tell me people use plastic bags at a rate of 1 million per minute. He also told me according the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) one ton of plastic bags cost $4000 to recycle—then it’s resold into the market-place for ~ $32. He also said that due to the cost of recycling < .05% actually gets recycled. The rest is simply discarded and wind up in our oceans. And aside from killing sea life, these minute particles of polymer rob O2 from our oceans. This in turn can cause dead zones.

I asked Tony what he’d offer as an alternative and he was quite forthcoming, ‘Biodegradable or reusable bags.’ He and his partner Lisbeth Hernandez receive donations of old clothes in good condition that they in-turn craft into reusable bags. And they employ the elderly to help make these eco-friendly bags. Then, Lisbeth showed me some of the jewelry she makes with plastic, silver and crystals. Pretty nifty I thought. And it’s a different approach, one that works, to conventional recycling.

In the near future, Tony plans to collect 15,000 signatures in order to ban the use of plastic bags in our local stores. If you’d like more information on that upcoming project, you can contact him directly at Top Green Magazine.

So, then I made my way over to one of the reps. Her name is Janna Lafferty. She told me Oceana specifically, out of all the environmental groups, represents our oceans. Statistically broken down that’s about 2% out of 100% of all eco-groups. Oceana was there to support for a global work party—10/10/10. (see picture) I also made my way over to the campaign organizer for Oceana—Katie Parrish.

Part of the goal, I was told, was to ban off-shore drilling and replace it with off-shore wind. Oceana lobbies our Senators & legislators in favor of wind generation in lieu of off-shore drilling—additionally the creation of green jobs; they get my vote any day. Oceana also wanted to thank Senator Bill Nelson of the 35th district here in Florida for his work in support of the ban on off-shore drilling. Kudos to you Bill.

I had one poignant question for the Oceana organizer. ‘Do you believe the BP Liberty Island Project is an Island or deepwater off-shore drilling?’ She laughed and said, ‘It’s a man-made deepwater drill, yeah, I mean it’s a man-made island, it’s not a real actual island.’ So, I asked, if the oil spills, where’s it going to go? ‘Right into the ocean’ she said with completely serious intensity.

At that point we were asked to form the 10/10/10 logo for a photo—while on the way over, I met a man named Steven Lutz. He’s an executive director with Blue Climate Solutions based out of Washington DC. He was there to advance a new concept called ‘Blue Carbon’. This concept is based on the restoration and conservation of coastal eco-systems—involving mangroves, sea-grasses and salt-water marshlands. These fragile eco-systems store carbon or C02 far more effectively than our terrestrial forests he told me. And from my work with Algae, I can tell you, he’s absolutely right. He went on to tell me 11 senators are also signed on behind the movement, including Bill Nelson of Florida—kudos again Bill.

As I was making my way off the beach, I serendipitously ran into Andrea Cuccaro with In a battery of questions I had for her, one she answered that made my heart sink. I asked why she’s here. Her answer? ‘We’re here because our leaders have failed to pass a strong climate change bill.’

Now, I have had a chance to check out the website and they offer many more than viable solutions to our energy needs. 1Sky is diligent about getting attention focused on these alternative solutions.

And I think the future leaders of America were on the beach today, looking after our sand and surf in solidarity, sending a strong and potent message to all parts of the world—that no matter how insignificant their efforts may seem today, tomorrow belongs to those who put forth the effort to protect human heritage.

There comes a time when the patterns of Big Business must end and be replaced by energized young people with sincere and daunting talents emerging to protect and cherish our lands. Such was the case today. And so:

I want to say thank you to the dedicated young men and women who were at the 10/10/10 rally in Miami Beach today. I want to especially thank Renee Hickman of Greenpeace for alerting me to the event.

I rode away as I came on my 99.5% green electric NiZn bike, I couldn’t help but think alternative energy isn’t limited to the machines or methods we employ; it lies primarily in the hearts, souls and minds of the youth we will leave behind. Let’s leave them a clean planet folks. And thank you Bill McKibben of for sponsoring this event.

Thanks for the plug Peter! -Steven

Sunday, October 10, 2010

10.10.10 Miami - Climate Action Event Day

10 Oct. 2010  -- Sunburn on the back of my neck. Sweat dripping off my forehead and sand in my shoes. No regrets on participating in Miami’s 10.10.10 day of climate action on South Beach.

At 9 AM Blue Climate Solutions joined a group of enthusiastic bicyclists on a little ride to South Beach. We rode from downtown Miami over the Venetian Causeway and on to Miami Beach.

The main event - a clean energy and climate change action rally - was held on the sand. We joined a crowd of local residents and environmental activists, mingled, signed petitions, and then organized the rally and photo ops with banners, signs, and chants demanding bold action on climate change and clean energy. Will our local and national representatives hear our requests?

Participating groups included 1Sky, Greenpeace, Emerge Miami, Sierra Club, Oceana, ECOMB, Top Green Magazine, Repower America, FIU Students for Environmental Action, and Blue Climate Solutions. Many from yesterday’s climate action work day were present (see previous blog).

Rally on the sand for action on climate change and clean energy.

Nature’s value in climate change was included in the rally - the first 'blue carbon' protest? (poster by Blue Climate Solutions).

-Steven Lutz, Blue Climate Solutions

Saturday, October 9, 2010

10.10.10 Miami - Blue Carbon Work Day

9 Oct. 2010 -- Today was a Miami 10.10.10 work day as part of this weekend’s positive message to reduce carbon emissions worldwide. Blue Climate Solutions joined the Urban Paradise Guild, Branches Florida City, 1Sky, Konbit Haiti, Surfrider, Sierra Club, Greenpeace and many others in a coastal habitat planting project at Oleta River State Park.

Invasive species including Burma reed and Australian pine were removed in anticipation of coastal hammock re-creation and to protect the Park’s nursery area from invasive contamination. Restoration at Oleta Park includes extensive mangrove planting.

Mangrove forests are important “blue carbon” ecosystems. When healthy, they store atmospheric carbon and counter greenhouse gas pollution. Mangrove conservation and restoration projects can help mitigate climate change.

Getting dirty under the sun in Miami was hard work and well worth it to help restore our coast’s natural carbon function and send a positive message of climate action.

Project leader, Sam Van Leer, Executive Director of Urban Paradise Guild, has been involved with park restoration projects for over 2 years.

Oleta River State Park is Florida's largest urban State Park, and its 1,043 acres includes extensive mangrove forest habitat.

-Steven Lutz, Blue Climate Solutions

See also:

FIU partners with local high school on mangrove restoration project (28 April 2010):

Thursday, October 7, 2010

10.10.10 & Blue Carbon Solutions - Miami Event

10.10.10 is an upcoming day of action for global events centered around climate change.  Folks here in Miami, Florida, are including a coastal habitat planting project (i.e., a blue carbon solution) as part of their positive message to reduce emissions worldwide.

Oleta River State Park is Florida's largest urban State Park, and its 1,043 acres includes extensive mangrove forest habitat.  Local event organizer, Urban Paradise Guild (UPG,, has been involved with park restoration projects for over 2 years. Projects include recruiting and organizing volunteers to plant mangroves, removing exotic species, restoring native habitat, and operating the Park Nursery.

UPG is also a founding member of the Blue Climate Coalition, an international alliance formed to support the inclusion of coastal and marine conservation in climate change policies.  More  information on UPG can be found below.

Dates and times for Miami's 10.10.10 event follows.  Expect bloging here on the action.

- Steven Lutz, Blue Climate Solutions

10.10.10 Miami:  Please support the following events for the 10.10.10 global work party to reduce emissions as part of an international day of action on climate change this weekend.  Can you attend? Bring friends?  We need a large crowd to attract the media attention that is going to push our leaders to pass clean energy policies.  Miami is rolling up its sleeves and getting to work.  Our leaders should too!

THREE Work-Days and a variety of activities are scheduled in solidarity with world-wide projects to reduce emissions worldwide this weekend as part of the 10.10.10 international day of action on climate change:

Fri, Oct 8th from 3pm to 6pm, Oleta River State Park, join Urban Paradise Guild and the University of Miami's Volunteer Link for nursery and planting prep projects.  See for details. 

Sat, Oct 9th from 9 am to noon (optional picnic & kayaking until 5pm), Oleta River State Park, join Urban Paradise Guild , Branches Florida City, 1Sky, Konbit Haiti, Surfrider, Sierra Club, Greenpeace and Blue Climate Solutions for nursery and planting prep projects.  Optional: Bring a picnic lunch and stay for kayaking in the afternoon.  See for details.

Sun, Oct 10th from 9 am to 11:30, join 1Sky, Greenpeace, Sierra Club, Blue Climate Solutions, and Oceana for a rally on Miami Beach.
9 am - Bicyclists meet for clean energy rally ride at Government Center Metro station to ride over Venetian Causeway to rally on Miami Beach.
10 am - Pedestrians and cyclists join to rally on Miami Beach in the sand on 10th St.
12 noon - Optional: After Party at the Carlton Hotel at 1433 Collins Ave.

Sun, Oct 10th from 11am to 3pm (optional picnic & kayaking until 6pm), Oleta River State Park, join Urban Paradise Guild for nursery and planting prep projects, consolidating and completing the work on 10/8 and 10/9.  See for details. 

Andrea Cuccaro, 1Sky Florida Organizer, 786-925-1151,, or
Sam Van Leer, Executive Director and Founder, Urban Paradise Guild,, for UPG Activities.

Urban Paradise Guild: UPG is a high-impact organization that combines hard work, innovation, education and activism. "We always know we make an impact because our hands are dirty," is how UPG's Executive Director puts it.  While other organizations were demonstrating during last year's 350 Day (10/24/2009), UPG had a Work-Day planting coastal habitat.  This year, Work-Days are the wold-wide theme.  UPG has a total of 9 Work-Days every month around Miami-Dade County.  This includes every Sunday, and the 2nd Saturday of every month, at Oleta.  See UPG's calendar for opportunities:

UPG is preparing for a major planting at Oleta on November 13 to create several acres of Maritime Hammock (South Florida's unique coastal hardwood ecosystem).  Projects for 10.10.10 include Nursery and Organic Stewardship (UPG methods of protecting Native Habitat by removing exotic plants without herbicide).

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Blue Carbon Field Trip - Florida Keys

Blue Carbon Field Trip - Florida Keys

5 Oct. 2010 -- Over the weekend, Blue Climate Solutions acquired first hand impressions of the Florida Keys’ carbon storing and productive blue carbon ecosystems. Skin diving in the seagrass meadows of Upper Matecumbe Key provided fantastic views of loggerhead sponges encrusted with juvenile lobsters, spotted eagle rays and cowfish. A kayak eco-tour from Florida Bay Outfitters (highly recommended) showed us lobsters, large snapper, snook and many juvenile fish in the creeks of Key Largo’s mangrove forests.

When healthy, coastal and marine ecosystems such as seagrass meadows and mangrove forests absorb atmospheric carbon dioxide and mitigate the threat of climate change.

Healthy seagrass and mangrove ecosystems are also vital for local tourism and many commercial and recreational fisheries.

Spotted eagle ray ‘spotted’ off Upper Matecumbe Key.

Honeycomb cowfish in the shallow seagrass meadows.

Kayak eco-touring in John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park.

Spiny lobster skirts a mangrove creek.

Baitfish hide in the seagrass.

- Steven Lutz, Blue Climate Solutions

Seagrass needs protecting

A UK perspective, seagrass and the carbon cycle highlighted.

For the record, we think seagrass ARE charismatic...

Seagrass may be 'uncharismatic' but it still needs protecting

Seagrasses of the area the size of one football field are being lost every half hour due to human impacts such as pollution, dredging and coastal development.

4th October, 2010 / Richard Unsworth

It may be not be as visable as tropical rainforests or wetlands but seagrass plays a vital role in the global ecosystem, says Richard Unsworth, filtering pollution and providing food to fish

Whilst it’s commonly accepted that the world’s coastal and ocean ecosystems are at risk from the activities of man, uncharismatic habitats, namely ‘seagrass meadows’, are often forgotten about and marginalised in conservation agendas.

Seagrasses survive in a range of conditions, from the upper estuarine to marine environments, and are of relatively few species globally (about 70). These flowering plants that grow in the near-shore environment of most of the world’s continents, although not extremely biodiverse in their own right, support a vast array of biodiversity.

They also provide a range of services to mankind. Amongst these biodiverse communities are a multitude of species that are classified as endangered, vulnerable or threatened with extinction (IUCN Redlist), including species of seahorse, turtle and dugong.

Recent research has pointed to alarming loss rates of seagrass that are now equal to that occurring in tropical rainforests and on coral reefs. Seagrasses of the area the size of one football field are now being lost every half hour due to human impacts such as pollution and run-off, boating, dredging and coastal development. Whilst we commonly see evidence from around the world about the loss of tropical rainforests, coral reefs, and wetlands it’s easy to forget about seagrasses. But why does this really matter and how can anyone help?

Seagrass and the carbon cycle

Research is now providing increasing evidence of the role that seagrass play in the global carbon cycle. Seagrass meadows have key roles in trapping the increasing amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, and possibly result in localised mitigation of the negative effects of ocean acidification (e.g. on coral growth).

In many areas of the world where meadows cover vast areas of the seafloor, they also have a major role in trapping marine pollutants. On the Great Barrier Reef in Australia, where pollution of land origin (i.e. nutrients, pesticides and sediments) is one of the current major threats to its long-term future, without seagrasses acting as natural water filters of this pollution, the very survival of the system would arguably have been in doubt long before pollutants reached their current levels.

For all those keen divers and fishermen, whether it is on the Great Barrier Reef, the Caribbean or Poole harbour in Dorset UK, seagrasses require protection for the role they play in supporting coastal fisheries. Zostera meadows in temperate European waters (like many of their tropical equivalents) support a range of fish species. Herring are known to spawn and lay their eggs on the leaves of Zostera, whilst many species such as bass, turbot, garfish, plaice, cod, and flounder live in these meadows for at least part of their lifespan feeding on the abundant invertebrate life. In addition, many birds such as Brent Geese and Widgeon, feed on the blades of the seagrass.

Seagrass and the food chain

Recent research has also found that in some parts of the developing world, where millions of people are 100 per cent dependent on seafood for a source of protein, seagrass can often be the major habitat supplying this food.

Convincing governments and regional planning authorities to help protect seagrasses from the negative effects of poor water quality, anchor dragging, dredging projects and coastal development requires people who understand these habitats and support such action. When communities learn to understand the extent, value and beauty of these habitats in their local region and the factors potentially influencing them, then conservation actions can often be locally driven.

In many parts of the world, community and volunteer groups have learnt about seagrasses and developed strategies to protect them by starting up volunteer monitoring programs such SeagrassWatch and SeagrassNet, as well as using programmes such as the Marine Conservation Societies SeaSearch. For example, community driven seagrass monitoring using the SeagrassWatch protocols in Singapore (the worlds largest container port) has considerably raised the profile of these habitats in the conservation agenda. This will hopefully lead to at least some of their protection in the long-term, rather than their complete loss in a location where large coastal developments are a continual threat to the existence of seagrass.

Without having people passionate and educated about the conservation of their local environment and important habitats such as seagrass it is difficult for conservation charities and non-governmental organisations to fight battles with developers, authorities and governments. Seagrasses are globally important and require conservation action to halt their loss, but this requires more than just legislation, it requires communities, whether they be diving or fishing clubs, scout groups or community councils to want to keep their important resources and become part of this battle.

Richard Unsworth is a senior lecturer in Ecology at the University of Glamorgan

Useful websites on seagrass