Part 2 of our interview with Alexis Henry, Surfrider Foundation’s Communication Manager
I can't interview an organization about the ocean without mentioning the Gulf Oil Spill. Are there local Surfrider chapters on the ground? Is there a way that someone can get involved in the cleanup through a local Surfrider chapter? Is there any information that you think people should know about the spill that hasn't been out there?
Regarding our efforts in response to the gulf spill, our primary focus right now is addressing the near shore water quality issue. In addition to seeing massive amounts of oil and tar washing up, the Surfrider Foundation is getting reports of swimmers and bathers going into the water and experiencing moderate to severe eye irritation, nausea and skin rash. Keep in mind this is occurring in areas where no visible oil or tar is present.
The Surfrider Foundation is getting ready to launch a new testing initiative to try and determine if toxins are present in coastal waters throughout the Gulf, and subsequently track those findings and make them available to both the appropriate governmental agencies and the public at large. We see this as tremendously important work in that not only could this be the only way that some communities are able to secure response (re: impacts/losses to tourism, fishing, etc), but will aid future research/response on the effects to offshore ecosystems throughout the gulf.
We are also encouraging everyone to stay updated on the spill and what the Surfrider Foundation is doing by visiting our Not The Answer blog (www.nottheanswer.org) and signing up for our daily news list.
Are there any consistent misconceptions that people have about the health of the ocean's ecosystem?
I think one of the biggest misconceptions people have is that they can only affect the health of the ocean if they live directly near it. We need to change society’s mentality and encourage people to do their part to protect our oceans, no matter where they live, and educate them about watersheds and the water cycle…everything eventually ends up in the ocean.
Is there something that someone can do in their everyday life to contribute to ocean health?
Here are some simple things we can do today to help keep our oceans and coastlines clean and healthy:
• Pick up after your pet. When carried out to sea, pet wastes can spread diseases, which are devastating to seal and sea otter populations.
• Properly dispose of used motor oil. Never dump it in a drain or field. Additionally, if your car leaks oil, fix it! Each year over 16 million gallons of oil run into our oceans from our streets and driveways. Let’s keep that out of the ocean.
• When gardening, cut back on your use of fertilizers. Excess fertilizer that makes it into our oceans can cause harmful plankton blooms or red tides, which harm fish, dolphins and other sea life.
• Don’t forget, pick up your trash and try to recycle all your plastic containers. If we do our part, we can keep our beaches clean.
To learn more about how you can help our oceans, please visit - www.surfrider.org