Wednesday, 03 July 2013 14:25

How Big is the Ocean?

We all know that the ocean is large. By large I mean huge. The reality is that the ocean is so big that it’s almost impossible to wrap your head around it.

To blow your mind this afternoon here is a short animation to help put everything into perspective.

Here is my favourite ocean fun-fact: The oceans of the world hold 99% of the world’s biosphere. That means that every single tree, bug, human and gopher you see on land is only 1% of what’s really out there.

Published in Environment

Why are there no Salmon in the Upper Columbia River? What can we do about that? What are the options?

Sea to Source is the first episode in a series of short films following the journey up the Columbia River in 5 dugout canoes that were hand carved by 1000’s of students.

The journey is about getting people reconnected with the history and culture of the Columbia River as well as the salmon that was once prolific before the creation of the Grand Coulee and Chief Joseph Dams.

Hap tip goes to Conor for the lead.

More info:

Published in Environment

I'm totally on a paddling film roll these days but don’t worry, I will get back to other boring topics soon enough.

Last year at this time I interviewed Steve Weileman to shed some light on an expedition he was planning which would look for and survey Tsunami debris that has floated over from Japan and washed up on Washington state coastline.

Well, the kayak expedition happened and it was a complete success and Steve made a film out of it which was released earlier this winter. It did quite well at a couple of paddling festivals winning Best Environmental Film at both the Waterwalker Film Festival and the Reel Paddling Film Festival.

This past week Steve uploaded the full-length documentary, Ikkatsu: The Roadless Coast to Vimeo and released it free to the public.

In March of 2011 Japan suffered a devastating earthquake followed by a series of equally devastating tsunamis. As the waters receded, an estimated 1.5 million tons of debris was washed back into the Pacific - all of which was destined to land on distant shores.

In the summer of 2012 three professional kayakers, supported by a group of scientific advisors, undertook an unprecedented journey to paddle the roadless coast of Washington, and to survey the debris on some of the wildest shoreline in the United States. When they returned, they shared the data they had compiled with the scientific community and put together their story of adventure and environmental crisis in this documentary.

Steve is planning on going up to Alaska this summer for a month to survey that region and is hoping for your support. All the details on their expedition can be found here.

Published in Video

My friend Conor sent me this email letting me know about a new sea kayaking film that he discovered. I couldn’t have written the description any better so I just stole this from him:

Thought I'd share this great short film about sea kayaking in B.C.'s Great Bear Rainforest--the same wild channels that could soon be plied by supertankers if the Northern Gateway Pipeline happens. The 8-minute film is excellent not for its technical proficiency but rather for the compelling story it tells. It doesn't focus on politics but rather the simple joys of being immersed in wilderness. It's well worth watching and sharing with others.

Published in Video

NASA recently released a colourised photo representing the ocean salinity differences around the world.

I thought it was pretty cool to see how much of an influence the Amazon River, St. Lawrence River and the ice caps at the north pole. Makes sense when you think about it but I clearly hadn’t thought about it before.

This information comes from data captured by NASA’s Aquarius instrument.

Jet Propulsion Laboratory website explains what’s going on and why we should care about this:

Launched June 10, 2011, aboard the Argentine spacecraft Aquarius/Satelite de Aplicaciones Cientificas (SAC)-D, Aquarius is NASA's first satellite instrument specifically built to study the salt content of ocean surface waters. Salinity variations, one of the main drivers of ocean circulation, are closely connected with the cycling of freshwater around the planet and provide scientists with valuable information on how the changing global climate is altering global rainfall patterns.

The salinity sensor detects the microwave emissivity of the top approximately 1 inch (1 to 2 centimeters) of ocean water - a physical property that varies depending on temperature and saltiness. The instrument collects data in 240-mile-wide (386 kilometers) swaths in an orbit designed to obtain a complete survey of global salinity of ice-free oceans every seven days.

They also released a very cool visualization showing the ocean surface salinity changes from December 2011 to December, 2012.

Photo credit: NASA

Published in Environment

Check out the trailer for the feature-length film, Midway. It's both fascinating and heartbreaking at the same time.

Dead Albatross Chick. Photo Credit: Chris Jordan

Using spare narration and stunning imagery, Chris Jordan’s feature film Midway explores the plight of the Laysan albatross plagued by the ingestion of our plastic trash. Both elegy and warning, the film explores the interconnectedness of species, with the albatross on Midway as a mirror of our humanity.

Midway is a feature length film in production schedules to premiere in late 2013. Our film is made possible from generous donation and grants. Please contribute through Fractured Atlas. All donations are tax deductible.


We covered Chris's first photographic journey to Midway Atoll back in 2009.

Thanks to Ray for the tip.

Published in Environment

Georgian Bay Biosphere Reserve LogoI just got a sad email from my friend Tim, owner of the White Squall Paddling Centre in Parry Sound, Ontario. Due to recently announced Federal Government budget the Georgian Bay Biosphere Reserve found out that their funding was cut for 2012-2013.

Here is the email:

Sorry to bother you, but the Biosphere needs your help. They have had their core funding cut to zero – effective this year. It means Greg and Becky don’t have funding to continue unless something happens. They have come up with an innovative and simple funding effort called the $57K campaign. Basically, they need $57,000 to get through this initial crisis – and they are asking for donations of $57 in the hopes that 1000 people will heed the call.  It’s not huge for each of us, but will make a huge difference for the continuing of their work.

Designated by UNESCO in 2004, the Georgian Bay Biosphere Reserve is an area of 347,000 hectares that stretches 200 km along the eastern coast from Port Severn to theFrenchRiver, in the world’s largest freshwater archipelago, also known as the 30,000Islands. The unique geography and geology of the area create more than 1,000 distinct habitat types which support a variety of rare species, including plants, mammals, birds, reptiles and amphibians.

So far they have been able to raise $2,000 but still have a long way to go. The GBBR is a fantastic organization and have been extremely supportive of the sea kayak campers who use the area. I’m opening my wallet, are you able to help?

You can learn more as well as contribute here.

Published in Environment

As floating debris from the 2011 Japanese tsunami continues to drift towards the west coast of North America, scientists have been following along and using it as a giant study project in ocean currents.

To help with the research The Ikkatsu Project is getting organized which will involve a group of kayakers setting out to document the flotsam as it begins to come ashore along the remoter parts of the Washington state coastline.

One of the project leaders, Steve Weileman sent me some information about it:

Between Neah Bay, at the tip of the peninsula, and Ruby Beach, at the southern end of the roadless section, lies approximately 60 miles of pristine Olympic coastline, much of it inaccessible to foot travel. It is here, on secluded pocket beaches surrounded by soaring sea stacks and intricate rock gardens, that the debris will make landfall.

Our team is composed of three experienced professional guides, each having a multi-year resume including multiple trips and expeditions to remote coastal environments. Ken Campbell has authored several books on Pacific Northwest kayaking and is a frequent contributor to print and online magazines on subjects relating to the outdoors and the environment. Jason Goldstein began his kayaking career in Christchurch, New Zealand and currently owns his own guide service as well, he works as a cartographer and GIS specialist. Steve Weileman is a documentary film maker and photographer, with previous experience in Newfoundland and Alaska, as well as numerous locations throughout the Northwest. Each of us brings a specific set of skills to the project and is looking forward to this unique opportunity to combine science and adventure.

You can find more information about The Ikkatsu Project on their website.

Flickr Photo Credit: Aerial view of debris following earthquake in Japan. / Official Navy Page / CC BY 2.0

Published in Environment
Tuesday, 13 December 2011 19:02

Is Your Fleece Coat is Polluting the Ocean?

Watch out for Mountain Pirates.

Uh-oh, looks like your recycled fleece (or fleece in general) isn’t as good for the earth as we thought it was.

According to, washing your polar fleece causing micro pieces of plastic fibre to come off and end up on the river and eventually the ocean.

Scientists found that similar levels of plastic particles were found on shorelines and in the discharge from sewage treatment plants - meaning that most of the micro plastic bits are coming from our washing machines. Fleece shreds the most: Plastic-based garments (fleece from the eco-friendly company Patagonia is made from “recycled soda-pop bottles”) lose more than 1,900 fibers per wash, all of which goes into the ocean water, and thence into the cells of sea life.

More info:

Photo Credit: Watch out for Mountain Pirates. / Caillum Smith / CC BY-NC 2.0

Published in Environment

American Whitewater LogoLate last week, the US Forest Service released a Draft Environmental Assessment that proposes to continue denying the American public the simple right to float in canoes and kayaks down the Wild and Scenic Upper Chattooga River for most or all of the year depending on the section of river.

The decision comes as the latest setback to citizens who connect with nature most strongly through paddling wild rivers like the Upper Chattooga. For more than a decade, paddlers have challenged the mismanagement of recreational and environmental values on the Upper Chattooga River.

The proposal marks a success for paddlers’ efforts to secure new conservation measures in that it proposes to bring sprawling campsites and user-created trails up to standards, set capacities for all visitors, and monitor the river’s condition and use over time.

Published in Press Releases
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