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NWP Global Registry of Apprentice Ecologists - Ocean Isle Beach, North Carolina, USA

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Ocean Isle Beach, North Carolina, USA
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Registered: December 2014
City/Town/Province: Ocean Isle Beach
Posts: 1
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Senior Project Ocean Pollution- CChaney- WBHS

A dilapidated sign stands crooked in the sand on the once busy beach, it reads, “Beach Closed.” Imagine a world where no one goes on beach vacations, and where fresh fish is no longer on the menu. This is a future, we may face if we, as a society, don’t make some big changes. Marine pollution is making some beaches toxic causing beach closures and negatively impacting coastal economies which are dependent on tourism. Marine debris and other forms of pollution in oceans and on beaches are harmful to our environment, threaten our food sources, decease coastal tourism and devastate economies. Meaningful steps should be taken to reduce ongoing pollution and clean up past pollution, so that coastal economies and marine life flourish.
Marine debris in the ocean and on beaches is on the rise, and is becoming a major problem in the United States and across the world. Pollution of our ocean habitats is causing a wide array of coastal problems including many beach closures. “According to Oceana, based on historical data and trends, there will likely be more than 18,000 beach closures this year due to unacceptable levels of contaminants" (Savitz). When pollution or bacteria levels get too high, public officials close beaches to protect human safety.
Pollution found in the ocean comes from many sources and is comprised of a wide array of different kinds of trash and is harmful to the oceans ecosystems and resources. “Marine debris is any man-made, solid material that enters our waterways either directly or indirectly” (EPA). Marine debris can be anything from plastic to sewage, and can be thrown directly into the water or onto the beaches or may be washed into the water by runoff. Pollutants are washing up on shorelines across the globe with increasing frequency and in significant volumes after being dumped into the ocean by unscrupulous people and companies. "Remote oceanic islands,” the study showed, “may have similar levels of debris to those adjacent to heavily industrialized coasts" (Hohn). Pollution in the Atlantic has reached remote islands, and is just as commonly found there as on industrialized beaches. The oceans are vast, but the fact that trash is washing up on small remote islands proves that debris is dispersed throughout the. The ocean is an important resource that should be protected, and steps need to be taken to reduce the amount of pollution in the ocean.
Pollution and beach closures negatively effects tourism, which in turn, hurts local economies because fewer customers frequent these areas. This summer many Americans will head to their beach of choice, and some will find it closed due to water pollution, especially in California. Coastal areas are popular places to vacation, and tourists will naturally be drawn to clean beaches instead of ones that are polluted. All beaches in America undergo public health tests to check for bacteria. “A high bacteria count indicates the presence of pathogens that can give swimmers skin rashes” (Barboza). The toxicity of beaches that fail these health tests is high, and can cause mild or severe illness in humans. Marine pollution also causes loss of recreational use to local residents and tourists alike. Access to recreational activities like fishing, swimming, surfing and various other water sports and hobbies are limited in areas with pollution. These activities draw tourists, and can be very important to the locals’ ways of life and livelihoods.
Coastal economies are hurt when beaches are polluted because tourism suffers and causes businesses to receive fewer visitors. Most coastal towns rely heavily on tourism to support their businesses. Declines in tourism affect local tax base, jobs, schools and standards of living for the people of these coastal communities. Polluted beaches and beach closures are on the rise deterring would be tourists. In 2003, there were 18,000 beach closures which was a 40% increase over 2001, which had 13,000 beach closures (Savitz). Locally, in North Carolina, beach towns rely on the summer tourist season; the majority of the business in the local coastal region in Brunswick County is conducted in the summer months. Local beach closures would be devastating to the economy of coastal Brunswick County, North Carolina. Towns like ours across the nation would most likely suffer in the same ways. It is important to make coastal town residents aware of these hazards so that they can do their part to reduce pollution to keep tourism and the economy thriving.
Pollution in the ocean, especially near beaches, causes health risks and even leads to a large number of illnesses. “As many as 1.5 million cases of sickness in Los Angeles and Orange Counties each year could be attributed to bacterial pollution in the ocean" (Navarro). Pollution is causing a large number of illnesses in some coastal areas in the United States. Imagine what would happen if the majority of beaches were causing sicknesses? In the event of national beach pollution, it would be too dangerous to go swimming in the ocean because of the sheer amount of health problems it would cause. People around the country come to beaches to relax and enjoy some time away from their normal lives. Tourists expect to come to clean beaches, and have fun and be safe. No one wants to go to the beach and risk inflicting health risks on their families. Polluted beaches prevent people from enjoying all of the good things that the ocean has to offer. “My kids would rather go in the swimming pool. My son doesn’t want to go in here. He says that the water looks dirty” (Navarro). Dirty beaches are unattractive to all age groups, and people should take precautions at the beaches because there is a good chance they could contract illnesses from them. It is a shame to see that the generation coming up might not be able to enjoy the ocean the way generations before them. We have a responsibility to protect the oceans for the generations to come. The ocean is a great source of recreation and relaxation that people have enjoyed for generations. It will take commitment on our part to ensure that the future generations will also be able to have the benefit of the ocean for their use.
A major effect of marine pollution is the damage it does to marine environments and organisms. The ocean is home to a large population of organisms that are essential to the prosperity of Earth as a whole. Pollution causes fish and mammal populations to decrease in numbers, and many organisms even become contaminated. "Dead zones, floating mats of plastics, and toxic chemical residues in marine fish tissue are striking evidence that human waste and by-products could be every bit as much of a threat to our oceans as over-fishing" (Karieva). Fish are a major source of food and industry. Without them, people will go hungry where they depend on catching fish for their livelihood. Even in America, fishing is a huge industry, and if fish become toxic and die out, then a lot of people will be without work. Toxic fish could also cause many sicknesses among people who eat fish regularly. It is important to keep oceans clean because we have to protect its resources that we need. “We look to the oceans to provide even more; new economic opportunities, sustainable seafood, and coastal habitats that reduce our risk from coastal storms and flooding. Balancing these growing demands on ocean sustainably is one of the greatest conservation challenges we face" (The Ocean Conservancy). The ocean has to be kept sustainable to support jobs, food sources, and coastal environments. If we allow pollution to take over our oceans, it is very likely that we could see organisms such as whales and other endangered species’ populations start to diminish. Once an organism becomes extinct, there is no getting them back. It would be terrible to see us be the cause of that. The ocean also directly connects to our livelihoods because it provides a great deal of oxygen that we breathe and even gives us medicine to treat diseases. "Oceans provide half of the oxygen we breathe, food and livelihoods for millions around the globe, medicines to treat disease and support for our thriving coastal economies" (The Ocean Conservancy). It seems apparent that without healthy oceans, life on earth will be greatly impacted by massive losses in oxygen and food sources.
There are several simple strategies to reduce pollution and clean up beaches. Education, awareness, legislation, and conservation efforts will go a long way to reducing pollution and reversing its effects. One of the most basic steps in reducing pollution is raising public awareness through public education. Education is perhaps the most effective tool we have. By informing people about the harm pollution does to our coastal environments and economies, they become more conscientious about their actions. A high level of public awareness begins to set cultural norms which affects the behavior of the masses. If people know that throwing trash on the beach causes businesses and tourism to struggle and that pollution destroys habitats and dramatically affects our food supply, then they would be less likely to litter and they might even pick up trash they find laying on the beach. The best first step to clean pollution is to organize beach sweeps to clean up coastal environments. One excellent example of a beach cleanup effort is the International Coastal Cleanup. It is an annual event that occurs worldwide in which people participate in cleaning up pollution off beaches (EPA). In 2012, this effort was effective in taking 10 million pounds of trash off beaches worldwide (EPA). Events like these are the beginning to attaining clean beaches and are very effective in doing just that. The second step to cleaning oceans and beaches is getting support for laws that put a heavier regulation on dumping pollution into the ocean. Congress needs to be aware of how bad ocean pollution is and how important a healthy ocean is to life. Right now, dumping pollution in the ocean is not illegal at a certain distance offshore. It should be absolutely illegal to dump any amount or kind of pollution into the ocean because of the damage it causes to the environment and marine organisms. Organizations that are leading cleanup efforts include the EPA, Ocean Conservancy, Surfrider Foundation, Oceana, and many more. These organizations work to protect the ocean and its resources. "Ocean Conservancy built support for the Marine Debris Research, Prevention, and Reduction Act and its companion bill in the Senate, the Trash Free Seas Act, to strengthen a national focus on marine debris" (Ocean Conservancy). These bills will help reduce pollution in the ocean by educating individuals and businesses on the harm pollution causes to the ocean’s habitats and resources and will continue to protect the oceans environments and resources from pollution. Support for these bills is important to make sure that they get enacted fast so that the ocean can quickly begin healing from years of heavy pollution. Individuals can help with these efforts by contacting their representatives in Congress, and letting them know that you want them to support these important initiatives.
In conclusion, pollution in the ocean and on beaches can be very harmful to businesses and tourism and jeopardizes a vital food source for countless people across the world. Marine debris needs to be reduced as soon as possible to keep coastal economies thriving and to protect our food sources. The ocean offers many resources ranging from food and jobs to transportation and recreation. These resources are vitally important, and need to be protected. A major reason why I decided to research this topic is because my passion is surfing and anything related to the ocean. "If Los Angeles County conjures images of a warm paradise of curled waves and palm trees, the locals know better. They live along a coast with the dubious distinction of having 7 of the state’s 10 most polluted beaches, according to the latest report card from the environmental group Heal the Bay, which has given beaches like Surfrider a failing grade year after year" (Navarro). If the ocean became toxic and polluted, I would miss out in all of the oceans amazing benefits and I’m scared that without major efforts in preventing pollution and restoring the ocean, hobbies like surfing and fishing will be lost forever. Two summers ago, I visited Honduras as a missionary with my family. There, I got a taste for what our future might be like. We stayed at several oceanfront places. There oceanfront property doesn’t have the value it does in the US because of beach pollution. In Honduras, You can’t swim or surf in the ocean. It’s contaminated. Several people on our mission team in years past braved the ocean and wound up very sick from the contamination. As we sat on the porch of the clinic we worked and stayed at, we watched villagers dumping human waste into the water. To look at the beach, it mainly looked normal, even pretty yet, there wasn’t a beach chair on the sand as far as they eye could see. Honduras is a poor country that could benefit greatly from tourism, but sadly they will never be able to reap these benefits, because they have ruined their environment. This is the future we face if we don’t actively prevent pollution and clean up the problems we already have.

Works Cited
Barboza, Tony. "U.S. beach pollution dips but remains too high, report says." Los Angeles Times: n. pag. Los Angeles Times. Web. 14 Sept. 2014. <>.
EPA, ed. EPA: Beaches. Environmental Protection Agency, n.d. Web. 8 Sept. 2014. <>.
Hohn, Donovan. "Sea of Trash." New York Times Magazine: n. pag. New York Times. Web. 10 Sept. 2014. <>.
Kareiva, Peter. "Karieva: Marine Pollution and a World of Waste." Cool Green Science. The Nature Conservancy, n.d. Web. 15 Sept. 2014. <>.
Navarro, Mireya. "Surf’s Up, but the Water Is Brown." New York Times 3 June 2007, Fashion and Style: n. pag. New York Times. Web. 10 Sept. 2014. <>.
Ocean Conservancy. Ocean Conservancy, n.d. Web. 10 Sept. 2014. <>.
The Ocean Conservancy, ed. "Oceans and Coasts." The Nature Conservancy. The Nature Conservancy, n.d. Web. 10 Sept. 2014. <>.

I. Introduction
• Thesis: Marine debris and pollution, in oceans and on beaches, is harmful to coastal tourism and economies

II. Marine Debris and Pollution
• Amount of pollution in the ocean
• Pollution on the rise
III. Tourism
• How pollution hurts tourism
• Beach closures
• Beach toxicity and
• Recreational Losses
IV. Coastal Economies
• How marine pollution hurts coastal economies
• Coastal Economies thrive off tourism
V. Health Risks from Polluted Beaches
• Sicknesses derived from polluted beaches
• How many sicknesses are caused by dirty beaches
• Where the majority of these beaches are
VI. Effects of Marine Debris on Coastal Environments and Organisms
• How pollution effects environments and organisms
• Effects on society

VII. Steps to Clean Oceans and Beaches
• Ways to clean beaches and oceans
• Organizations that are trying to diminish marine pollution
• Laws enacted that will help stop marine pollution
VIII. Conclusion
• Final argument and findings of the project
Date: December 30, 2014 Views: 5481 File size: 21.5kb, 2240.1kb : 3648 x 2736
Hours Volunteered: 48
Volunteers: 3
Authors Age & Age Range of Volunteers: 17 to 18
Area Restored for Native Wildlife (hectares): 1
Trash Removed/Recycled from Environment (kg): 100
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