Thursday, May 28, 2009

One Ocean, One Climate, One Future

Each year World Oceans Day’s annual theme focuses on an environmental aspect of how the ocean affects the world. This year’s theme is “one ocean, one climate, one future.” The ocean plays a large role in the Earth’s climate, and ocean life is greatly affected by climate change: the ocean affects us and we affect the ocean.

The unhealthy state of our ocean is currently affecting countless aspects of our lives. One major effect is the increased number of invasive species and diseases that are spreading to new areas. Blue whales face decreased food supplies, polar bears struggle to survive due to melting sea ice, and salmon populations are disappearing. Sea levels are rising worldwide, posing a major threat to low-lying coastal areas. One area that is in grave danger is North Carolina’s Outer Banks, which lies below sea level, and cannot withstand a continuous rise in the waters.

Violent storms and coastal surges also pose an extreme threat to areas around the world, including North Carolina’s coastal communities. Recent years have shown the devastation that atypical weather patterns can cause, including major hurricanes, earthquakes, tornados, and severe thunderstorms. Each year our beach community is in peril of being the victim of a devastating storm, which is forecasted by the increased water temperatures.

Although countless people are still unaware of the connection between the ocean, climate, and future, more citizens each day are calling for action to be taken against the climate crisis. The ocean that we leave for future generations lies in our hands, and we must make the decision to conserve our “Blue Backyard”. Participating in World Oceans Day is an excellent way to start making a difference.
*Information and picture from The Ocean Project

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Hooray for World Oceans Day!

The countdown to World Oceans Day begins! June 8, 2009 marks the 13th Annual World Oceans Day. The celebration began in 1992 when the concept was created, and in 2009 it was given official designation by the United Nations. World Oceans Day is an opportunity to celebrate our world’s oceans and the personal connection each one of us shares with the sea. The Ocean Project and the World Ocean Network coordinated together to make this year’s celebration special.

World Oceans Day encourages people to change their perspective and think about what the oceans mean to them, learn about creatures and habitats that rest in the seas, and become caretakers of the ocean by making small modifications to their daily lives. The day also gives people the opportunity to celebrate the ocean!

Why should we celebrate World Oceans Day? Oceans make up 70% of the planet’s surface. The world’s ocean also generates most of the oxygen we breathe, cleans the water we drink, and helps feed us. It also helps regulate the climate. The calming sea also provides inspiration for people all over the world.

In an effort to promote World Oceans Day, the NC Aquarium at Fort Fisher’s blog will focus on ocean related topics until June 8.
*Picture and information from The Ocean Project

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Meet Luna

After much anticipation and hard work, the NC Aquarium at Fort Fisher is opening its new albino alligator exhibit on Friday, May 29. Visitors to the Aquarium got a sneak peek at her in March during “Scales and Tails” when the Aquarium launched a naming contest. Community interest piqued and over 1500 submissions were received onsite and online, some from as far away as Germany and Scotland. County schools were invited to submit their entries as well. From Lilly to Allie and Pearl to Opal, Aquarium staff voted on their favorite name and Luna won!

Come meet Luna, the Aquarium’s newest resident. Aquarium staff will be on hand to answer questions and share the albino alligator’s story throughout the day every day.

The Aquarium acquired this rare jewel for its collection in February. Construction for her permanent home in the Cape Fear Conservatory began shortly afterward. Built in-house by Aquarium staff, the albino alligator exhibit features a deck and viewing panel. A six foot tall, stainless steel “phantom” mesh barrier surrounds the exhibit, although it is largely hidden by native vegetation. The animal and its exhibit were paid for by private funds provided by the NC Aquarium Society.

Obtained from St. Augustine Alligator Farm in Florida, this alligator originally came from a nest in Louisiana. Eggs taken from a specific nesting location resulted in a small number of albino hatchlings for many years. Although the parents weren’t white, they carried the recessive gene for albinism which resulted in approximately 25% of their offspring being albino. Left alone in the wild, the albinos would not survive. Less than 50 albino alligators are known to exist in the world.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Change the World One Pair of Jeans at a Time

Wondering what to do with your old denim jeans? How about donating them so they can be recycled? The “Cotton. From BLUE to GREEN” denim drive is a national effort to collect denim in order to recycle it into UltraTouch Natural Cotton Fiber Insulation. This fiber is then used by Habitat for Humanity to provide communities in need with assistance in building homes. This year Cotton is striving to collect the largest amount of denim to beat the Guinness World Record for the largest collection of clothes to recycle.

The Denim Drive was created in 2006 as a pre-promotional marketing initiative for a Cotton tour. It quickly turned into a call for action for people to donate their denim to help save the environment. Since its start, the drive has received a total of 89,799 pieces of denim. 185,000 sq. ft of UltraTouch has been manufactured from the denim, which will be used to insulate 180 homes in the Gulf Coast by the end of this year.

UltraTouch is made up of 85% recycled cotton fibers and is environmentally safe. The insulation is non-itch, and provides excellent thermal performance. It is one of the only types of insulation to contain an active mold/mildew inhibitor.

Donate your jeans by June 30, 2009 in order to help the drive reach its goal. Visit the website at to learn where you can drop off your denim.
*Picture and information from Cotton

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Welcome to the aquarium Amazon milk frog!

Give a warm welcome to the newest additions to the NC Aquarium at Fort Fisher’s dart frog exhibit, three Phrynohyas resinifictrix. These exotic amphibians are commonly known as Amazon milk frogs. The Amazon milk frog is a large species of arboreal frog that was originally discovered in Brazil, and is mainly found in South America. Their habitats are located in humid rainforest regions. They especially love slow moving water. They are rather large in size, and are generally a light grey color with black or brown banding in adolescents. Here are a few interesting facts about the new arrivals.

· As the frogs mature their colors transform, and their skin becomes bumpy

· They breed only in holes in large trees

· They are called milk frogs due to the poisonous, white, milky secretion that they may emit when threatened

Next time you are walking around the aquarium, be sure to stop by the dart frog exhibit and see the fresh faces of the Amazon milk frogs.
*Special thanks to Ginger Black for the photo

Friday, May 15, 2009

Fishing Hooks - Commentary from WECT's Gary McNair

WILMINGTON, NC (WECT) - "I never thought I'd be doing a commentary on fishing hooks, but I do like to fish and my good friend Bob Townsend has enlightened me on the subject of hooks. Now, I feel obligated to share that information with you.

For years, the primary type of hook has been a "J" hook, but conservationists have been encouraging people to use "circle" hooks. It turns out a circle hook is actually safer for the fish.

If you catch a fish using a circle hook, it is usually hooked in the jaw and can be easily removed from the fish's mouth. That's especially good news if you are practicing "catch and release."

"J" hooks will also catch fish, but it increases the chances the fish can swallow the hook. And if that happens, trying to remove the hook usually causes a fatality.

Spring fishing along the coast is picking up, so go out and enjoy. Be sure to know and follow the rules - don't forget to get a license.

Give that circle hook a try, and practice good conservation efforts. That way we'll all benefit and there will plenty of fish for everyone.

That's my turn. Now it's your turn. To comment on this segment, or anything else, email me at"

- Gary McNair, WECT

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Save the Planet One Meal at a Time

Making wise choices about the foods and beverages you purchase and consume can help save the planet! For the average person, the food and beverages they consume are the single largest determining factor of their overall ecological footprint. The good news is that instead of spending a fortune buying a Prius, you can reduce your ecological footprint on the cheap! Here are five easy ways to reduce your footprint using smart food and beverage consumption decisions.

1. Buy local food and drink- Fossil fuels used to transport food and drinks to the local grocery store is a major part of their carbon footprint. Purchasing foods that are grown locally largely diminishes the amount of fossil fuels used. Shopping at farmer’s markets is an excellent way to buy locally, or look for the local options at grocery stores.

2. Avoid wasteful packaging- Production of food and beverage packaging requires energy and is wasteful. Eager to enjoy the purchase, consumers quickly throw away the not so eco-friendly packaging. To avoid this waste, buy in bulk or purchase minimally-packaged products.

3. Buy plants, not meat and animal products- Buying plants instead of animal products is important since animal products are resource intensive. Meats require a great deal of amount of water, food, and fossil fuels to produce. Furthermore, the factories that host these animals create waste runoff that is detrimental to the environment.

4. Buy minimally-processed foods- Excess amounts of energy and resources are required to produce highly-processed foods, and offer little nutrients. Raw plants are the most ecologically sensitive foods you can buy and consume.

5. Grow your own- The best way to reduce your carbon footprint is to grow your own food. Gardening is not only fun and convenient; it is also an excellent way to save the Earth!

These tips are easy ways to help sweep away your ecological footprint, as well as improve your own health. Start changing the way you look at food and beverages to help save the planet!
-Information from and picture from

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

The Return of the Grey Wolf

Congratulations to the grey wolf for making a tremendous comeback, after nearly being hunted to extinction 35 years ago. The grey wolf was recently taken off of the U.S. list of endangered species. With the help of conservation efforts, thriving wolf populations have reemerged in several states. An estimated 12,000 wolves now roam throughout the United States, including Michigan, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Idaho, Montana, and Alaska.

In the 1950s government approved bounty hunting almost eliminated the entire wolf population until 1974 when officials had a change of heart and placed the animal under protection. Although the wolves have been released from government protection, they will still be monitored for the next five years. If there is a drop in population the federal government can place the wolf back on the list on an emergency basis.

Fierce arguments and countless legal challenges have occurred during the process to remove the wolf from the endangered list. Critics believe that the management plan is one of several areas that need revision. One major argument surrounding the release of the animal is that the wolf can now be hunted in most states. To environmentalists this seems like a counteraction of the decades of efforts to replenish the rare animal species.

Although the homecoming of the grey wolf is stricken with controversy, the endangered species act has done an excellent job at bringing the animal back.
Image by MSE Systems