Events /

Ocean Plastics

September 10 - 28, 2018

We're dedicating the month of September to hosting scientists, explorers, artists, advocates and organizations tackling the huge issue of ocean plastics. We have 9.2 billion tons of plastic on our planet of which 6.9 billion tons have become waste. We are filling the bodies of water on our planet with plastic, a conservative estimate shows 8.8 million tons of plastic enter the ocean each year. How long does it take for plastic to completely biodegrade? Estimates range from 450 years to never. Wave action and the sun cause plastic to breakdown into smaller pieces called microplastics, which are ingested by marine life, carrying toxins that accumulate through the food chain and into our bodies. A few more facts to illustrate the issue:
More than 5 trillion pieces of plastic are already floating in our ocean | Over a million seabirds and 100,000 marine mammals are killed by plastic trash each year | Around the world, over a million plastic bottles are sold every minute | 10% of plastic waste in our ocean is discarded fishing gear
Take the plastic pledge with National Geographic and make some simple changes that can have a big impact: https://www.nationalgeographic.com/environment/plasticpledge/

The Google Hangouts:

September 10, 2018

9:30 am

Camera spots available: 0

Chelsea Rochman is an Assistant Professor in Ecology at the University of Toronto. Chelsea has been researching the sources, sinks and ecological implications of plastic debris in marine and freshwater habitats for the past decade. She has published dozens of scientific papers in respected journals and has led international working groups about plastic pollution. In addition to her research, Chelsea works to translate her science beyond academia. For example, Chelsea presented her work to the United Nations General Assembly and at the US State Department.

September 10, 2018

11:00 am

Camera spots available: 0

Ben Kneppers is a Co-Founder of Bureo Inc., an emerging company operating between Chile and the California focused on creating innovative solutions to ocean plastic pollution. Through the team’s initiative, ‘Net Positiva’, Bureo has created Chile’s first ever fishnet collection & recycling program. Net Positiva provides fisherman with environmentally sound disposal points, while Bureo receives highly recyclable raw materials to create innovative products that bring net positive solutions to the world. Find out more at www.bureo.co

September 11, 2018

9:00 am

Camera spots available: 0

I am a marine biologist focusing on saving large ocean creatures - megafauna- from extinction. Besides for learning about the lives of these giants, at the moment I am particularly interested in how manta rays and whale sharks may be harmed by ingesting small pieces of plastic - microplastic. I am a PhD student at Murdoch University, Western Australia and a lead researcher with the Marine Megafauna Foundation, USA. I hope to inspire people of all ages to consider how they can become better marine stewards (love and care for the ocean and its creatures). For more info on my project and work please visit: https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Elitza_Germanov https://www.facebook.com/microplasticsmegafauna/

September 12, 2018

10:00 am

Camera spots available: 0

Asher Jay is an international adventurer and public figure whose compelling paintings, sculptures, installations, animations, ad campaigns, and films all have a single purpose: to incite global action on behalf of wildlife conservation. Her message in a bottle installation is on permanent display at National Geographic Encounter in Times Square. She's paired paintings on plastic bottles with messages from leading voices in ocean conservation. In September she'll be encouraging students around the world to do the same and send their designs to her to be posted in a digital display. Asher's travels to the frontline have made her witness and story-teller, combatting illegal wildlife trafficking, promoting habitat sanctuaries and illuminating humanitarian emergencies.

September 12, 2018

12:00 pm

Camera spots available: 0

Dr. Tierney Thys is a National Geographic Explorer, marine biologist, Research Associate at the California Academy of Sciences and an independent filmmaker. She serves on the board of Think Beyond Plastic (TBP)—a global leader in advancing solutions to plastic pollution through innovation and entrepreneurship. TBP is developing the ecosystem for bio-based bio-benign materials, new packaging design, manufacturing processes, consumer and business products. After receiving her PhD studying biomechanics, Dr. Thys served for 10 years as Director of Research at Sea Studios Foundation—producers of the award-winning six-part PBS documentary series Strange Days on Planet Earth. This series, which focused on global environmental challenges including climate change, overfishing and plastic pollution, whetted her desire to find solutions. Her current research projects include tracking marine megafauna with satellite tags to reduce bycatch, quantifying the role nature plays in human well-being and environmental decision-making through neuroimaging, providing nature to nature-deprived populations specifically the incarcerated and producing a narrative film on long term solutions to plastic pollution.

September 12, 2018

2:00 pm

Camera spots available: 0

Award-winning television host/journalist Angela Sun's passion for storytelling and love for the oceans led to the creation of her first feature documentary, Plastic Paradise: The Great Pacific Garbage Patch. Angela directed & executive produced the film which has received critical praise and garnered 13 awards worldwide with supporters such as former VP Al Gore, Bette Midler, Jackson Browne and Forest Whitaker. She is also emmy-nominated for her hosting work on NBC’s national travel/lifestyle newsmagazine 'LXTV 1st Look’. A Bay Area Native from Silicon Valley, she is a graduate of UCLA. She studied abroad at the University of New South Wales in Sydney and Shandong University in China and has traveled to over 70 countries and counting. Angela has conducted field research on the Great Barrier Reef focusing on reef sharks as well as surveyed corals in the Andaman Sea off the coast of Thailand. She is an avid surfer and scuba diver, and a citizen marine biologist for Reef Check.

September 13, 2018

1:00 pm

Camera spots available: 0

Sherry Lippiatt has served as the California Regional Coordinator for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Marine Debris Program since 2012. In this role, Sherry works with key stakeholders to identify regional marine debris priorities and provides expertise and oversight for Marine Debris Program-funded prevention, removal, and research projects in the state. She also leads the MDP’s flagship citizen science program, the Marine Debris Monitoring and Assessment Project. Sherry began working at NOAA in 2010 through a Knauss Sea Grant Fellowship, and in 2016, she was selected as a NOAA National Ocean Service Team Member of the Year. Sherry holds a Ph.D. in Ocean Sciences from the University of California Santa Cruz, and a Bachelor of Science in Environmental Science from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, New York.

September 14, 2018

9:00 am

Camera spots available: 0

Jennifer is a Marine Biologist at the Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies (IMAS) in Tasmania, Australia. Her research focuses on marine plastic pollution, including plastic-associated chemicals. She uses seabirds as "sentinel species": essentially they are her little "CIA investigators". They criss-cross huge oceans in search of food, returning to the land (usually islands) with bellies full of plastic they mistakenly ingested because the plastic looked or smelled like prey. By studying what the birds eat, Jennifer can learn a lot about the health of the oceans.

September 17, 2018

3:00 pm

Camera spots available: 0

Kahi is the Executive Director Sustainable Coastlines Hawaii. He's focused on exposing the issues surrounding the overconsumption of plastics and commercially fished seafood by hosting large scale cleanups across the State of Hawaii. Teaching people that if all we ever do is cleanups, that's all we'll ever do. We need to realize that clean beaches start at home. Sustainable Coastlines Hawaii started in 2010 when a group of 10 friends got together to do something about the marine debris problem. That group has since grown into one of the world’s largest marine debris cleanup organizations!

September 18, 2018

1:00 pm

Camera spots available: 0

After serving four years in the United States Coast Guard, Breezy attended the University of Rhode Island, obtaining degrees in Geology and Geological Oceanography with minors in Marine Biology and Underwater Archaeology. Educated as an ocean scientist and mariner, educator, and entrepreneur by trade; she considers herself an Ocean M.E.S.E. (mariner, educator, scientist, explorer), with a passion of deep sea and polar exploration. From the North Pole to Antarctica and the oceans in-between, Breezy has traveled the world and seen first hand evidence of humans, even in the most remote areas on the planet. With a focus on a growing trend of pollution being out of site, out of mind, join Breezy as she helps inspire the next generation to come up with new ideas on how we can tackle the plastic pollution world wide. For more information about Breezy check out www.BreezySeas.com

September 19, 2018

1:00 pm

Camera spots available: 0

Oceanographer and National Geographic Explorer Katlin Bowman studies mercury chemistry in marine environments using chemistry and genomic techniques, helping scientists understand how mercury concentrations have changed throughout history. Currently, she is studying how microplastic pollution in San Francisco Bay impacts mercury cycling. Katlin has spent nearly a year of her life at sea, spanning 12 expeditions. She has crossed the Atlantic, cruised through the tropical Pacific Ocean and Mediterranean Sea, walked across ice floes at the North Pole, and explored the seafloor in the deep-ocean submersible Alvin. A mentor to young women in science in a program for underrepresented women applying to graduate school, she is also the co-author and narrator of a children’s book, To the Top of the World, that tells the story of a research expedition to the Arctic Ocean.

September 19, 2018

3:00 pm

Camera spots available: 0

Dr. Sarah-Jeanne Royer is an oceanographer and currently doing a post-doctorate on marine debris at the International Pacific Research Center at the University of Hawaii. Her research is linked to the pathways and fate of marine debris and plastic pollution in the ocean. In addition, prior to this post-doctorate, she investigated on the emissions of greenhouse gases from plastics in the environment at the Center for Microbial Oceanography, Research and Education. She has been highly involved with the organization named Sustainable Coastlines Hawaii, which is the biggest organization of beach cleanups in Hawaii. For three years she served as the science advisor and started using data collection from volunteers for citizen science projects. Her goal is to pursue plastic research to understand better the degradation and fragmentation processes of plastic and fate in the ocean in addition to the plastic accumulation on the different island of Hawai’i. Her long-last objective is for policymakers to use data from scientists and volunteers to design better laws and policies to reduce plastic production & consumption. She also started recently a project on micro-fibres at SCRIPPS Institute of Oceanography with Dimitri Deheyn.

September 20, 2018

12:00 pm

Camera spots available: 0

Marine Biologist Imogen Napper is a National Geographic Sky Ocean Rescue Scholar. She developed her love of the ocean from a young age as she learned to sail and surf in her seaside home town of Bristol, UK. Once she began noticing the effects of plastic contamination on beaches, her passion to be part of the solution arose. Imogen received a BS in Biomedical Science and an MS in Biotechnology. She is now finishing her PhD in Marine Science at Plymouth University, focusing on the sources of plastic in marine environments. Her work recently helped influence the ban of microbeads in cosmetics internationally. Her research was also the first research piece that specifically analysed different fabric types (such as polyester) to further understand how many plastic fibres come off during clothes washing. Her research found that up to 700,000 fibres could potentially come off from a single wash of acrylic clothing. Imogen will be working to identify the most effective technology for capturing the tiny micro plastic fibers that are released when modern clothes are washed.

September 21, 2018

11:00 am

Camera spots available: 0

In July 2018, through the organization eXXpedition, Sarah sailed with an all-female crew from Vancouver to Seattle to explore remote coastlines for plastic pollution. The trip aimed to raise awareness on the devastating impact of single-use plastics and to celebrate women in science, leadership and adventure. Sarah created a short film about the journey and the plastics problem which was featured in US Vogue magazine in August 2018. Sarah is a film producer, creating ads, films and PSAs. She has always had a deep love for the ocean. She grew up competitively sailing and swimming on Long Island Sound and now her heart is pulling her to use film to inspire change. While obtaining her master’s degree in Environmental Conservation Education from New York University, Sarah is working to create a series of educational films in virtual reality about the environment to put into school curriculums across the country. The first film follows the journey of a plastic bag from a student’s school lunch to the stomach of a whale.

September 24, 2018

1:30 pm

Camera spots available: 0

Lilly Woodbury is originally from Tofino, British Columbia, but has lived most of her life by the Great Lakes in rural Northern Ontario. Upon moving back to the coast at 18, she fell in love with the pursuit to protect the environment, and ended up doing a Double Major in Environmental Studies and Cinema Studies at the University of Toronto. Since graduating in spring 2015, she has worked on a diversity of campaigns including wild salmon protection and mining, as well as working for Greenpeace in New Zealand in 2016/2017 with the aim of stopping offshore drilling and seismic blasting. Since the winter of 2015, Lilly has been volunteering for Surfrider Pacific Rim, working on plastic campaigns, running the media, organizing events, and participating in beach clean ups. Since April 2017, she landed a dream job as the Chapter Manager for Surfrider Pacific Rim, which has the current aim of eliminating single use plastics, implementing progressive recycling practices for petroleum products, and working with the public, youth and businesses through programs and events that raise awareness about coastal stewardship and ocean friendly behaviours. In her spare time she loves to surf, adventure outdoors, write creative nonfiction, video edit, and travel with the continual goal of learning about environmental initiatives and the positive action being taken in different cultures.

September 25, 2018

11:00 am

Camera spots available: 0

Karine est une amatrice de voile, une professeure et plus particulièrement, elle se décrit comme une ÉDUCATRICE. Ayant vécue le long du fleuve St-Laurent et des Grands Lacs, elle est passionnée de sciences environnementales, de la protection de la qualité de l’eau et de l’agriculture durable. Après une maîtrise en génie agroenvironnemental, elle a conseillé des producteurs agricoles au sujet des bonnes pratiques de gestion des sols et de la conservation de l’eau et a enseigné à la prochaine génération de fermiers dans des programmes pré-universitaires. Elle revient d’une traversée de l’océan Pacifique Nord, d’Hawaï à Vancouver, sur un voilier avec un équipage entièrement féminin pour amasser des données sur le microplastique. Avec un océan de souvenirs de son adventure, Karine éduque et conscientise à propos des solutions pour s’attaquer à la problématique du microplastique. Karine is a sailor, a teacher and most importantly, she is an EDUCATOR. Passionate about environmental sciences, water protection, she is a strong believer in following our bliss. Having lived along the St-Laurence River and the Great Lakes, Canada, she is an avid advocate of sustainable agriculture. After her Masters degree in agro-environmental engineering, she went on advising established farmers on soil management best practices to conserve water quality in agricultural watersheds and taught to the future generation of farmers in pre-university programs. She recently crossed the North Pacific Ocean, from Hawaii to Vancouver, on an all-female sailing voyage to collect new data on plastic and toxics. With an ocean of souvenirs from her journey, Karine educates and raises awareness around solutions to tackle the issue of microplastic.

September 25, 2018

1:00 pm

Camera spots available: 0

Lillygol Sedaghat is a Fulbright–National Geographic Digital Storyteller documenting Taiwan’s waste management system, plastics recycling and circular economy initiatives. She hopes to inspire conscious consumerism by focusing on the human narratives shaping systems imperceptibly ingrained in our lives. Using digital and visual media to describe recycling methods and processes, and public platforms such as Tedx and school outreach, Lilly aims to transform public perceptions of trash, showing it isn’t just disposable, but valuable. Her work includes: infographics demystifying the plastics recycling process; music videos featuring sounds from Taipei City’s waste management system; a 12-day Zero Plastic Waste Challenge video series, and interactive stories on the Nat Geo blog.

September 25, 2018

2:00 pm

Camera spots available: 0

Melissa is an environmental scientist based in Toronto, Canada. Conserving biodiversity is her passion, and she’s explored four of the five world oceans by sail, SCUBA, or a good old-fashioned swim. Melissa served on an all-female crew that circumnavigated Great Britain collecting scientific data on plastics and toxics in UK waters, travelling nearly 800 nautical miles aboard the 72 ft (22m) sailing vessel Sea Dragon. She is an advocate for science literacy who helps youth, Indigenous peoples, and community members build their understanding of ways that people can affect the natural world. Her studies examine human interactions with terrestrial and marine ecosystems, and she has been involved in projects in Canada, the UK, Europe, and East Africa.

September 26, 2018

10:00 am

Camera spots available: 0

Anna is a NOAA Nancy Foster Scholar affiliated with Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary; she is pursuing a Ph.D in Chemical Oceanography at the University of Rhode Island Graduate School of Oceanography. Her research examines "new" contaminants like water repellant compounds compared to "legacy" pollutants like flame retardants in seabird tissue and ocean water, to better figure out how seabirds are accumulating these pollutants. She also characterizes plastic ingestion in seabirds to better figure out how plastics relate to pollutant loads in birds. She is the managing editor of oceanbites.org and constantly seeks to spread awareness about plastic and chemical pollution in the oceans.

September 26, 2018

2:00 pm

Camera spots available: 0

Nicholas Mallos is Director of the Trash Free Seas® Program at Ocean Conservancy. Nick oversees Ocean Conservancy’s work on ocean plastics, including its annual International Coastal Cleanup, scientific research portfolio, and the Trash Free Seas Alliance®, a co-operative group of businesses, leading environmental organizations and scientists focused on developing solutions to address ocean trash. Nick has extensive field experience researching ocean plastics – his debris-related assignments have taken him from the North Pacific Gyre to the remote shores of Alaska and the Philippines. He received his master’s degree from the Nicholas School of the Environment at Duke University. Nick serves as a subject matter expert for CNN, and is based at Ocean Conservancy's office in Portland, OR.

September 27, 2018

11:00 am

Camera spots available: 0

Nikkey is a photographer with a passion for documenting the environment. The first time she picked up a camera she went missing. At the age of 5 on a family road-trip Nikkey left the group behind in the middle of a thunderstorm in Alberta's hoodoos to get the shot of a squirrel. Despite not being allowed out of sight for the rest of the trip, she was hooked on capturing the world as she saw it. As voyage photographer aboard eXXpedition North Pacific Leg 2 her mission was to capture making the unseen seen. With a background in digital marketing she also took on sharing the day to day experience at sea and engaging social media followers in the microplastic issue.

September 27, 2018

2:00 pm

Camera spots available: 6

Dr. Jenna Jambeck is a National Geographic Explorer, an Associate Professor in the College of Engineering at the University of Georgia (UGA). She has been conducting research on solid waste issues for over 20 years with related projects on marine debris since 2001. She also specializes in global waste management issues and plastic contamination. Her work on plastic waste inputs into the ocean has been recognized by the global community and translated into policy discussions by the Global Ocean Commission, in testimony to U.S. Congress, in G7 and G20 Declarations, and the United Nations Environment program. In 2014 she sailed across the Atlantic Ocean with 13 other women in eXXpedition to sample land and open ocean plastic and encourage women to enter STEM disciplines. She is co-developer of the mobile app Marine Debris Tracker, a tool that continues to facilitate a growing global citizen science initiative. She was also featured in National Geographic Magazine's cover story 'Planet or Plastic' in June 2018.

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