by Kayla Hamelin
When you live in Nova Scotia, it is obvious that fishing is an important part of the culture and economy of Atlantic Canada. Fishing vessels fill our harbours. Folks head down to their local pier – rod in hand - to cast a line and see what bites. Seafood restaurants and markets abound. People fish for fun, for food, and for work.
As I begin my PhD research in fisheries science, I am gaining a greater appreciation for the wide range of species harvested off our shores. Out there under the “big blue blanket” are incredible invertebrates like the gangling snow crab, and formidable flatfish like the massive Atlantic halibut. However, there is one species that has really charmed me – the Atlantic mackerel, also known as Scomber scombrus. The more I learn about these fin-tastic friends, the more I am hooked!
Mackerel are a marine, pelagic fish, which means that they live in the open water column of the ocean, rather than on the bottom or at the shore. They have beautiful bodies well-adapted for camouflage in the ocean, with shimmery blue on their backs, silvery undersides, and squiggly stripes down their backs and flanks. You may notice the tiny finlets (mini, nonretractable fins) on their caudal peduncle (a funky name for the area where the body meets the tail fin). These finlets help with their high-performance swimming and are a feature shared with some of the larger members of their Scombridae family, including the mighty tunas and bonitos.
Mackerel are relatively small, measuring up to about 40 cm (a bit more than a foot) in length and about 1 kg in mass. However, there is strength in numbers, and these schooling fish like to swim together in large groups to stay safe from predators. Fun fact: unlike many of their relatives, mackerel do not have a swim bladder, the gas-filled organ that helps many fish to control their buoyancy. Without a swim bladder, mackerel must follow Dory’s advice and just keep swimming!
Atlantic mackerel can be found on both sides of the Atlantic, so we share this special species with our friends in Europe. Here in North America, they range from the coast of Newfoundland and Labrador in the north all the way down to North Carolina in the south.
Mackerel always play an important role in the marine ecosystem. They are known as “forage fish” because they act as an important food source for larger animals such as marine mammals, sharks, and other larger fish. Mackerel themselves prefer to eat small invertebrates such as zooplankton. As a result, they act as an important link in the ecosystem, passing food energy up through the food web to the top marine predators. Humans like to catch mackerel, too! You may be familiar with mackerel if you enjoy fishing as a hobby. Since they spend time in our coastal waters during the summer and early fall, they are a popular catch (and meal!) for recreational fishers from around Atlantic Canada.
Unfortunately, Fisheries and Oceans Canada has classified mackerel in the critical zone, meaning that the stock has declined and needs rebuilding. However, we still don’t know a lot about the biology, ecology, and fishery operations for Atlantic mackerel. I think this seems like a great oppor-tuna-ty for fishers, scientists, and government officials to unite and work together to ensure that an abundance of these creatures can be found swimming our seas for years to come. If you’re interested in chatting all things mackerel, feel free to reach out at firstname.lastname@example.org!
by Meghan Borland
It is hard to believe that another Touch Tank Hut season is around corner! Well, maybe it’s still a couple snow melts and freezes away, so to tide us over, I thought I would share some highlights from our 2019 Touch Tank Hut guest book.
As you read on, you will notice that I have sprinkled this blog with some quotes from the guest book that are guaranteed to turn any day from crabby to fin-tastic! I mean, just look at the letter below from one of our many sweet, ocean-loving visitors, Solomon!
Before we dive in, let me just say that we had an amazing 2019 season. We loved seeing familiar faces from the previous season and many new ones too! The guest book is a great way for us to gain an understanding of where our visitors call home and what the highlight of their visit was. Keep in mind, the fun facts that I have included in this blog are based on the information we collected in our guest book and do not reflect all 2019 visitors.
Staff is exemplary, great volunteer work, patient, informative and kind.
– Tara, Chad, Karaghen and Jax, 2019 Touch Tank Hut Visitors
This season we had visitors from not only across Nova Scotia, but across Canada and the globe! After going through our guest book, I learned that in 2019 Touch Tank Visitors came from 35 communities across Nova Scotia.
Map showing the communities across Nova Scotia that 2019 Touch Tank Hut visitors who wrote in our guest book came from.
Outside of Nova Scotia, we had visitors from 57 communities across 9 Canadian provinces. If you visit us from Manitoba or a territory, make sure you sign the book so your province is represented next summer!
We even had visitors from 10 countries outside of Canada (yes, you read that right)! We like to think that these individuals travelled such a long distance just to visit us… 😉
We had visitors from the United States, Bermuda, New Zealand, France, Spain, Australia, Japan, India, Germany, and Lebanon.
The wonderful thing about the hut was knowing about the biodiversity under the sea. Now, I can imagine why we value diversity…
- Adam and Leslie, 2019 Touch Tank Hut Visitors
Thank you to everyone, near and far, who visited the Touch Tank Hut last season. We are humbled by the support we receive. Your positive feedback confirms why we are working so hard to open a community aquarium!
Psst! If you haven’t already heard, a couple weeks ago we announced a call for feasibility vendors. This is a fancy way of saying that Halifax is one step closer to getting a community aquarium! You can read our press release here.
“It was so awesome. Definitely need an aquarium in HRM.
- Lindsay, Lara and Austin, 2019 Touch Tank Hut Visitors
By Alex Tesar
We here at the Back to the Sea Society hate to be accused of favouritism. When it comes to marine life, we love it all, from anemones to zooplankton. Jellyfish: yes. Whales—whale, of course. But there is one group of animals that may be entitled to bear the crown of nature’s most perfect creature. I speak, of course, of crabs.
To understand why, we must first look at some things that aren’t crabs. Sorting the crabs from the crab-nots can be complicated. Consider, for example, the hermit crab: protruding eyes on stalks, a shell, and the trademark claws that suggest the quintessence of crabbiness. You would be forgiven for thinking that you were looking at a crab.
However, despite their name, hermit crabs aren’t actually crabs. Though they resemble “true crabs,” hermit crabs are in fact a different kind of crustacean that happens to look very similar. And they are far from alone: among those living in disguise are the king crabs, which may have themselves evolved from hermit crabs (known, delightfully, as the “hermit-to-king” hypothesis), as well as hairy stone crabs and porcelain crabs.
The king crab is not a crab, but it is a king.
Photo credit: NOAA Office of Ocean Exploration and Research, Gulf of Mexico 2017
The theory that crab-like crustaceans tend to evolve from non-crab ancestors is known as “carcinization.” The word literally means to become cancer-like, but think of the astrological sign, not the disease. The phenomenon was first described by a man named Lancelot Alexander Borradaile, who has perhaps one of the best names in the history of science. Borradaile coined the term while studying the evolution of the humble hermit crab, describing it as “one of the many attempts of Nature to evolve a crab.”
Why does Nature want to evolve a crab so badly? Well, we know that evolution “selects” for traits that are particularly well-suited to a given environment, and there seems to be something about the crab-like shape that works very well when it comes to surviving and thriving in the water—so what works for “true crabs” might also evolve in other species that aren’t close genetic relatives. This is called parallel evolution.
There are other examples of this in nature, too. In Australia, many marsupial species have evolved separately from mammals in the rest of the world but still look strangely familiar because they’ve faced similar evolutionary pressures—like the flying phalanger and the flying squirrel, which both glide from tree to tree.
It appears that nature likes to get crabby. Of course, there’s no such thing as a perfect animal in evolution, only the creature that’s best adapted to its time and place. But when you come to the touch tank this summer, you can get hands-on and decide for yourself whether you are simply holding a hermit crab or touching a miracle.
Via Twitter, @PattonPray
by Kaitlin Burek
This weekend was marked by crowds and bustling bodies as humans vie for gadgets to fill their homes and hermit crabs vie for homes to fill.
If you have ever made the acquaintance of a hermit crab in the ocean or the Touch Tank Hut, you will know that they are an incredible lobster-like animal with ten legs, two claws, and a whole wack of weird and wonderful associated facts. For example, hermit crabs can grow up to 16-inches, have algal and anemone friends, and can move between oceanic and land environments! As amazing as these facts are, hermit crabs have an even weirder trick up their shell…or should I say shells.
Even though hermit crabs require a shell to protect their soft abdomens, they are unable to create one. The hermit crab’s solution to this evolution irony is to inhabit shells created by snails and other animals. As the hermit crab grows, however, the too-tight-jeans feeling takes over and the hermit crabs need to find a bigger shell to call home. This is where the Black Friday analogy comes in because changing shells requires speed, knowing what you want, some *light* shoving, and a whole lot of determination as a bigger shell is the desire of many.
When it is time to change shells, hermit crabs can do one of three things – steal a shell, find a vacant shell, or trade shells in a mass event. Although the mass event is nothing short of madness, there is some etiquette to trading shells, specifically:
Even though mass events do lead to a lot of happy hermies (the internet taught me this term), some hermit crabs will undoubtably be left without a shell and will be forced to steal or find an empty shell.
Although we do not condone stealing as part of our shopping-shell swapping analogy, we do support the hermit crabs’ teachings of etiquette and identifying needs – a clawsome reminder as we exit a consumer-heavy weekend and enter holiday shopping season.
by Sarah Holleran
As we are into August already, it is safe to say that it has been a successful season for the Touch Tank Hut thus far. With many new eager volunteers, visitors and amazing animals, the Touch Tank Hut has been running smoothly! With only a handful of weeks left to the summer, make sure you take time to come visit and see some of the special creatures that lurk in Nova Scotia's waters.
Two visitors holding Horse Mussels at the Touch Tank Hut
Goodwill Bot Wrap Up
It was a night filled with laughter, games, prizes and a few sea friends at this year's Goodwill Bot event hosted at Good Robot. A huge thank you to all the amazing volunteers and to the people who generously donated prizes to make this night possible for us. We are so thankful for the opportunity to spread awareness about our society, and to raise money in order to keep our Touch Tank Hut running all season.
A special thank you to Good Robot for hosting the event and to all those that participated! The Back to the Sea Society is beyond grateful for the opportunity to have raised $550 at this event.
From left: Touch Tank Hut Coordinator Sarah Holleran and Program Coordinator Aki Nisbet at the Goodwill Bot event.
From left: Aki Nisbet showing off a Sea Star to visitors at Goodwill Bot
Any camps or day cares that would be interested in attending a private program at the Touch Tank Hut, please email our Program Coordinator Aki Nisbet and fill out the booking form on our website for any inquiries.
We offer a 1 hour program on Wednesdays and we have separate programs for ages 5 and under, as well as 6 and above. There are only a handful of weeks left in the summer so book your groups ASAP to experience this unique and educational opportunity at the Touch Tank Hut!
Founder and Executive Director Magali leads a program group
A fun and healthy way of supporting the Back to the Sea Society is by purchasing from Stoke Food Supply. This company is dedicated to creating yummy protein bars with grass fed whey protein and no additives or preservatives.
Support Back to the Sea Society by purchasing a dozen bars from Stoke Food Supply. They will forgo the plastic by wrapping the bars in compostable parchment paper and the total packaging saved amount will be donated to Back to the Sea. To check out all their delicious flavours, visit their website.
Delightful Raspberry White Chocolate bars made by Stoke Food Supply
Sea Suds Soap
Are you interested in wonderful all-natural handcrafted soaps? If the answer is yes, you should stop by the Touch Tank Hut and check out our selection of amazing soaps from Sea Suds Soap. This company is a mother and daughter duo who create all natural hand-made soaps and are committed to reducing plastic pollution through the use and promotion of natural bar soap.
Sea Suds Soap has generously donated some of their wonderful soaps to us which are on sale at the Touch Tank Hut. When purchasing the soaps through us, all proceeds go directly into supporting our society.
We invite you to come visit the Touch Tank Hut this summer before our season ends. You will be amazed by the many animals that can be found in our own backyard. Best fishes to all!
Sarah Holleran is our Touch Tank Hut Coordinator and Executive Assistant. Read her bio here
by Sarah Holleran
It was a successful and sunny opening day on June 8th (World’s Oceans Day) at our miniature marine interpretive centre - the Touch Tank Hut! We were happy and proud to once again be a part of Oceans Weak HFX, which ran from June 1st to 9th. We were thrilled to welcome returning friendly faces, as well as meet new individuals who were experiencing the Touch Tank Hut for the first time. It was a day full of education, engagement, crafts and smiles. With a total of 300 visitors, it was a special day to kick off our season.
Two claw-some volunteers manning our crafting and face painting station!
Touch Tank Hut Grand Opening
We are pleased and excited to offer another season at the Touch Tank Hut, educating people of all ages and audiences from locations within and outside our province of Nova Scotia. With a brand-new species this year, the toad crab, we cannot wait to educate our visitors about the animals we showcase.
We were also pleased to have special guests MLA Claudia Chender, MP Darren Fisher and Councillor Sam Austin come by throughout the day.
From left: Executive Director Magali Grégoire, Touch Tank Hut Coordinator Sarah Holleran and Member of Parliament for Dartmouth-Cole Harbour Darren Fisher on opening day.
MLA for Dartmouth South Claudia Chender, pictured here with one of her daughters, has been very supportive of the Touch Tank Hut over the last two years!
This summer season, we will be open Wednesdays 3pm-7pm, Saturdays 9am-5pm and Sundays 10am-6pm. While we have introduced new admission prices to ensure we can continue to run all summer long, every last Wednesday of the month will be by donation/pay-what-you-can. We look forward to continuing on our journey of sparking curiosity for local marine life, and working towards our goal of a permeant community aquarium in the HRM.
Oceans Week HFX
Oceans Week HFX is a growing community that is dedicated to creating awareness and engagement about the importance of the ocean in our lives, and the lives of future generations. This community strives to recognize how crucial it is to protect the ocean, as it is a valuable yet vulnerable resource we as humans have access to.
Thanks to local volunteers and an array of organizations, Oceans Week HFX includes a wide range of both recreational and educational activities that attracts a vast audience. Activities included beach clean-ups, trivia nights, guest speakers, outdoor recreational activities and also our grand opening. We were so thankful to be a part of this amazing week for the third year in a row!
As part of Oceans Week HFX, Vandal Doughnuts dedicated a charity doughnut to the cause, with a portion of the sales being donated all week long. The team of Oceans Week HFX selected the Terranaut Club and Back to the Sea Society to be recipients of this donation! I hope some of you got to enjoy this yummy donut decorated with marine organisms. Our sincere thanks to Oceans Week HFX and Vandal Doughnuts for this support.
Our first volunteer training of the season held on June 6th!
The Back to the Sea Society would not be able to function the way to does without the help of our amazing and dedicated volunteers. If you have a passion for the ocean and would love to express that passion to others, consider volunteering with us. We are always looking for new volunteer interpreters for the TTH. We are having our second volunteer training and orientation of the year on Tuesday June 25th from 6pm-8pm in Downtown Dartmouth. If you want to educate others on local marine life, consider filling out a volunteer form here
We invite you all to come and see what the Touch Tank Hut is all about this summer - it will be a fin-tastic time!
by Alisha Postma
When you live and breath scuba diving, sooner or later you’re going to get the opportunity to dive into some pretty neat spots all over the world. Iceland, Greece, Egypt, Florida…
My exotic scuba diving list is pretty extensive, but truth be told, as beautiful and picturesque as these dive destinations may be, as a Canadian diver, there is no place like home.
For the past 6 years, I have lived in Halifax, Nova Scotia.
Located on Canada’s east coast, Nova Scotia is the second smallest of ten provinces. It’s also a peninsula that is pretty much surrounded by Atlantic ocean. For cold water divers it’s paradise, and guess what? I’m proud to say it’s my paradise too!
When you first look out into the North Atlantic it can be a bit unsettling. Cold, darkness, less than ideal visibility are a few things that immediately come to mind. But it only took me a few dives to figure out why when looking into our own backyards we can’t see the bottom - it’s because it’s so full of life.
Ready to have your mind blown by the Canadian North Atlantic?
It’s common to spot sculpin and sea ravens in the waters of Nova Scotia. This ruby red sea raven was photographed at the Paddy’s Head dive site, a favorite among the locals.
With their dainty colors and itty-bitty bodies, nudibranchs are always a fun subject for macro shooters. While you can find nudi’s to shoot in Nova Scotia if you look really hard, they are much easier to find on Deer Island, New Brunswick.
When photographing in Nova Scotia, I like to look for small critters like this funky little spiny lumpsucker. It gives the dive site some personality.
Keep your eyes peeled because you never know what you will spy in the plant life. This rock crab decided to peek out for me on the green dead man’s fingers (scientifically known as Codium fragile).
Striking red and pink colours are a sight for sore eyes in the cold productive waters of the Bay of Fundy. Here you will find brightly coloured anemones of all different shapes and sizes, with tentacles out trying to catch some food from the water column!
Nothing spells Nova Scotia better than a close-up view of a lobster. You can find these arthropods all over the east coast scavenging the bottom on the hunt for their next meal. I love grabbing macro shots of these guys with a focal point on their beady little eyestalks.
Plant, animal or lifeless rock?
Chitons, also known as sea cradles, are a species of mollusk found exclusively in marine environments. On top of having the incredible power of surface adhesion, chitons have 8 separate shell plates that overlap and protect their otherwise soft body.
by Maggie Sutherland
I’m not the type of person that has a lot of idols. However, when I first heard about Sylvia Earle during a Geography course in undergrad, she fascinated me.
When I joined the Board of the Petty Harbour Mini Aquarium, a lot of my motivation and inspiration to remain involved in marine conservation was thanks to her messages, quotes, and her organization Mission Blue. These provided a glimpse of hope into what always seems like such a dire state of affairs for our oceans. Most of what you hear is about fish populations plummeting, species extinctions, coral bleaching and devastating impacts of human activities. Sylvia Earle provided a voice a hope among all of that. That yes, you as an individual can indeed have an impact or be part of something that helps to change how people treat our oceans.
Maggie at the Petty Harbour Mini Aquarium in Newfoundland where she first became involved with community aquariums.
Far and away, the greatest threat to the ocean, and thus to ourselves, is ignorance. But we can do something about that.
One of the most fascinating parts of Sylvia’s messages is that she helps connect you to the ocean. For many people the ocean is a mystery - it is a cold, deep blue blanket that is out there far away. It's not something you ever get close to, or touch, or dive beneath- especially not everyone as lucky as us on the East Coast. Sylvia Earle has helped connect us to that blue blanket, to convince us that the ocean is a part of us, and our existence is intimately connected to it.
If you think the ocean isn't important, imagine Earth without it. No ocean, no life.
When I saw Sylvia Earle was coming to Halifax this fall for the G7 Ocean Summit - I literally started shaking with excitement! This was a person I thought I would NEVER have the change to meet. I told Magali (our Executive Director) and we squealed with excitement about meeting one of the most inspiring women in ocean education and exploration.
Maggie, Sylvia and Magali at the G7 Meetings in Halifax in fall 2018.
On the day of the event, a lucky window opened where Sylvia was not surrounded by people and I knew I had to take this chance to tell her how much of an inspiration she has been to me, motivating me to care about our oceans and help inspire others to care too. I was so nervous I don’t even remember what I said but I hope it was somewhat coherent! That encounter was just the boost I needed to remind myself why I am now involved with a charity that aims to open a collect-hold-and-release aquarium in the Halifax-area. People need to meet the creatures that live beneath our oceans to understand that they are a vital part of our ecosystem. The health of our ocean, which covers over 70% of our planet, starts with each person believing they can take action in their own lives for marine conservation.
Knowing is the key to caring, and with caring there is hope that people will be motivated to take positive actions. They might not care even if they know, but they can’t care if they are unaware.
All quotes by Sylvia Earle.
New to the blog? Read Part 1 and Part 2 of this series!
In this third and final post on our Plog for the Sea Challenge, we wanted to highlight how a little goes a long way!
By dedicating just 10 minutes a day for 10 days throughout the month of October, our 10 participants plogged for a total of 33.6 hours and picked up close to 77 bags of litter!
Along with the various Nova Scotian spots shown below, plogging also happened in Cape Breton, PEI, Ottawa and Vancouver. It's really impressive what a small group of dedicated people can accomplish.
Spring is still a little ways away, but as soon as that snow melts it will uncover an unsightly array of trash along our roads and on our coasts. Instead of getting discouraged, let's all get out there and plog! For some final inspiration, here is the last set of responses from our ambassadors. They were asked what surprised them the most from their experience and what advice they would have for anyone considering plogging.
Meghan returning from one of her plogging trips.
The surprise - I wish I could say that I was surprised by the amount of litter I encountered during the plogging challenge, but I was not. Unfortunately, the “out of sight, out of mind” mentality is still quite prevalent in society today. What I was surprised by was how great of an activity plogging is to do with friends! It allows you to catch up with a friend while making a positive impact on the environment.
The advice - There are so many stressors facing the ocean today. The news is populated by stories of doom and gloom of the ocean. Often times, it can be quite overwhelming to the point where the you can be left wondering if the actions of a single person can really make a difference. Plogging is proof that actions of a single person can have a huge impact! It is among the easiest things that you can do to help the ocean. That is all to say that if you are considering becoming a plogger, do it!!!!
Jocelyn with two bags of "loot" after a plogging trip.
The surprise - I was surprised by two things during my plogging. First I was surprised about the amount of garbage I found in some spots and that it wasn't being cleaned up by our city or some of the community. It was sometimes hard to stay positive about my small impact on these large amounts of garbage on road sides and in parks. But secondly I was surprised by the overwhelming support! My donors ranged from close friends to people I haven't spoken to in years and everyone I met while I was plogging had big smiles, encouraging words and even fist bumps and high fives for me. That really helped me keep up my plogivation!
The advice - Get a great pair of gloves and some tongs! They came in handy during wet weather or hard to reach places. If you can, recruit plogging pals - group plogging makes the time go faster and keeps spirits high. And treat yourself to a walk on a well maintained trail every few plogs, just to get back into the beauty of nature and remind yourself of why you're out there.
Our appreciation event at The Watch That Ends the Night.
We finished our challenge off with an appreciation event to thank all our plogging ambassadors. The Watch That Ends the Night provided delicious appetizers to our group that were happily scarfed down! We were able to offer prizes to those who logged the most plogging hours and to our top fundraisers thanks to the generous donations of Aerobics First and Patagonia Halifax. Thank you to these sponsors!
A huge thank you to all 117 people who donated to our plogger's efforts and helped raise $3,605 for ocean education!
And finally, one more thank you to our ploggers: Abbie, Alexandra, Jennifer, Jocelyn, Kaitlin, Lyn, Maddie, Meghan, Melanie, Raymond and Ruby.
If you don't know what plogging is yet and haven't read Part 1, see below or click here.
When we created the Plog for the Sea challenge, we wanted to ensure that we weren't creating more waste with our efforts. We put our sustainability thinking caps on and thought of a couples ways this could be done.
First, we provided our local ambassadors with reusable bags that they could use to pick up the waste they found. These were provided to us by the Alexander Keith's Brewery located in Halifax. Their master brewer, Stefan, is always looking for ways to make sure their used malt bags don't go to waste. He cut the bags for us, slit some handles, blew out the grain residues and delivered some perfect plogging bags to us! Thank you Stefan!
Stefan showing off the reusable malt bags! Photo curtesy of The Tare Shop who caught Stefan in action bringing some bags to the Historic Brewery Market for all shoppers to use.
If you want one, or many, of these bags - contact us!
The second thing we did to reduce our own footprint with this challenge was provide our ambassadors with gardening gloves. For safety reasons, gloves are an important aspect of plogging. Many clean-up efforts provide participants with latex gloves, and while we applaud all efforts to tidy up our environment, those latex gloves ultimately end up in the trash. Considering becoming a plogger? Go purchase a pair of cheap gloves that will last you all plogging season and beyond!
Want some other tips to begin plogging?
Here's the second set of responses from our ploggers after we asked them what surprised them the most from their experience and what advice they would have for anyone considering plogging.
Abbie's dog, Count, along for a plogging run!
The surprise - I was surprised by the amount of support I received from strangers and people I barely knew. Without trying to sound negative, I thought it would be pretty hard to reach the $200 goal. But people quickly jumped on the bandwagon and kept up with my progress which was amazing. People were so excited to financially support a local organization and even help plogging.
The advice - If you're considering becoming a plogger, don't be disheartened by the amount of litter out there! Just know that you're doing your best and you are making a difference, no matter how small it feels. And if you're not hauling in huge bags of litter... that's ok, too! Picking up cigarette butts is very time consuming for little reward... but I remember reading somewhere that one cigarette butt can immediately contaminate 7 L of water and continue releasing toxins for 10 years!
Melanie, our second West Coast ambassador, plogging in Vancouver.
The surprise - I was surprised by the number of other folks who got involved! I am so glad people joined the team to clean up for the sea and support Back to the Sea’s fundraising goal!
The advice - My advice, carry gloves with you everywhere. It’s always the times you are not Plogging when you see a huge garbage can turned over or a seagull that has just tore up a McDonalds bag. Those are the times when ploggers need to be at the ready! Now that my eyes are open to the amount of garbage on our streets and seawalls, I can’t not see it.
Jenn doing a beach plog.
The surprise - I was disheartened to see so much litter that was found litterally everywhere, but what surprised me was how much we can accomplish in such a short period of time. In ten minutes of plogging we can fill an entire bag and make for a happier and healthier environment. I was also pleasantly surprised by the amount of support, encouragement, donations and messages that trickled in on the daily from people online and in person. This challenge made me realize that there is a wonderful network of caring, like-minded, passionate people that are fully on board to connect & continue to work together in helping our environment in any way we can.
The advice - I recommend investing in a durable pair of gardening gloves that will sustain all elements and that you will be able to reuse for each plogging adventure. I used one pair of gloves the entire month and they worked perfectly other than I do wish they could have been a bit more water-resistant, as some of the messes I got myself into left my hands sopping wet with who-knows-what. Speaking of which, hand sanitizer is good to have close by. Last but not least, a couple of reusable bags (email Back to the Sea to get some of Keith's used malt bags!).
My advice to future ploggers would be 1) Have the items I’ve listed above on-hand for emergency plogs, as I had many of those. 2) Talk about it- whether you make a post, record your experience, or talk to friends and family about your experiences-it will bring more awareness and recruit more ploggers! 3) Don’t be shy. If you do not have the means to dispose of the garbage you’ve collected, reach out to local businesses that have secure and covered bins. 4) Have fun with it! Get friends together, laugh off some of the outrageous finds. It can get ugly out there, and you can start to feel pretty discouraged BUT, know that you’re doing your part, and others are too!
🌎 💙 🌊
This is part 2 of a 3 part series. Read part 1 below. Stay tuned to find out more about the success of our challenge and to hear more anecdotes and advice!