Mangroves – Nature’s Giving Trees

Protecting Our Planet

Written by SurfWriter Girls Sunny Magdaug and Patti Kishel

Like the tree in Shel Silverstein’s The Giving Tree, who gives everything to the young boy who loves him, mangrove trees give everything to our planet and its inhabitants.

Mangrove forests, which grow along salty ocean shorelines in tropical and subtropical latitudes, are made up of some 80 different species of plants that can subsist in low-oxygen soil.

Noted for their tangle of roots that appear to grow above ground supporting the plants as if on stilts, mangrove trees oxygenate the environment and stabilize coastlines from erosion.

Mangrove trees truly are giving trees. Five times more effective than rain forests at removing carbon from the atmosphere, NASA calls them “among the world’s best carbon-scrubbers.”

Mangrove forests also provide food and shelter to sea life, including a wide variety of fish, shellfish, algae, plankton, amphibians, birds, and mammals.

Critical to the health of our planet, mangrove trees can be found along the shorelines of over 100 countries and territories, with over 40 percent of them located in Asia.

SurfWriter Girls Sunny Magdaug and Patti Kishel learned that the world’s largest forest of mangrove trees covers an area of about 10,000 km in Bangladesh’s Sundarbans Reserve Forest between the Baleshwar River and the Bay of Bengal.

Due to coastal development, deforestation, climate change, pollution, and other factors, though, forests such as this are at extreme risk and could even become extinct unless countries come up with sustainable practices to protect them.

To create more forests, the SeaTrees Project, started by the Sustainable Surf non-profit organization, is on a mission to plant 1 million mangrove trees (with 228,000 trees planted and protected so far). 

Other organizations supporting the mangroves include Conservation International, the World Wildlife Fund, the Nature Conservancy, and the International Union for the Conservation of Nature. Working together they hope to expand the world’s mangrove habitat 20 percent by 2030.

To save these trees that give so much, the place to start is by giving back.

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Audubon 2020 Photography Awards

Photographs “Display the Magic of Avian Life”

Written by SurfWriter Girls Sunny Magdaug and Patti Kishel

It’s the eleventh year for the National Audubon Society’s Annual Photography Competition. In announcing the winners, the Society said the photographs were “spectacular, artistic and playful” and that they “display the magic of avian life.”

Including both amateur and professional photographers, there were more than 6,000 submissions from across the United States and Canada.

With so many North American birds at risk of extinction from climate change and other environmental hazards, the Society hopes that the contest draws attention to the different bird species and the need to protect them.

SurfWriter Girls Sunny Magdaug and Patti Kishel salute all the photographers who waited, watched, and clicked the shutter at just the right moment to showcase each bird.

Taking viewers into the birds’ domains and everyday lives, each photograph truly captures the wonder and magic of the birds.

Joanna Lentini won the Grand Prize with her underwater photograph of a Double-crested Cormorant diving beneath the sea.

It was taken in Los Islotes, Mexico. Lentini, who was in the Bay of La Paz observing “playful sea lions,” redirected her attention to the nearby cormorants. She says, “I watched in awe as the cormorants plunged beak first into the sea to snap at the sardines swimming by.”

Now, at a time when people are looking for something to cheer about, it’s uplifting to see these magnificent birds take flight.

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Rock it to me!

Spreading Joy in the Neighborhood

Written by SurfWriter Girls Sunny Magdaug and Patti Kishel

In neighborhoods all around us “The game is afoot,” as Sherlock Holmes would say, to find hidden treasures. Not gold or diamonds, but rocks of a different sort – painted rocks hidden by neighbors to bring smiles to the people who find them.

In a movement that has spread throughout the U.S. and other countries, people are decorating rocks with uplifting messages, ladybugs, flowers, butterflies, and other images and leaving them along pathways for their neighbors to find, keep, or re-hide for someone else to find.

At a time when we all need cheering up, it’s a safe, social-distancing way to share a smile with someone you don’t even know.

Kids, families, seniors – anyone out walking – are finding these special, handmade treasures and knowing that someone went to the effort to leave them there.

SurfWriter Girl Patti even found a rock – this blue bug that was looking up at her from the base of a bush. Written on the back of it is the word “Joy.”

Maybe there’s a rock waiting for you to find. Or why not channel your artistic abilities and leave a magical rock (or a few) for your neighbors to find?

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Ladders Are The Cat’s Meow

Swiss Kitties On the Prowl

Written by SurfWriter Girls Sunny Magdaug and Patti Kishel

From the beaches of Australia to the Alps in Switzerland, people and their cats are sharing each other’s lives. Aussie Robert Dollwett’s cats Didga and Boomer like to surf and skateboard.

In Brasilia, Brazil, when a stray cat kept sneaking into the offices of the Order of Attorneys building, rather than shooing him out, they named him Leon and made him an attorney.

And, in Switzerland this brave kitty rescued a lost hiker.

The Swiss, known for intricate watches and complex banking systems, have developed an ingenious way for their house cats to travel from one point to the other – cat ladders.

Offering kitties the best of both worlds – a warm, cozy home and access to the adventurous outdoors – the ladders are a common sight in Switzerland’s urban cities.

Graphic designer Brigitte Schuster has photographed them for magazines and is working on a book, Swiss Cat Ladders, that showcases the vast array of catwalks from narrow bridges to zigzag configurations and spiral staircases.

SurfWriter Girl Sunny Magdaug, who has lived in Switzerland, says the cat ladders reflect the practicality of the Swiss and their ability to find creative solutions to problems…

even something as simple as letting the cat out.

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New Protection for Pacific Ocean

140,000 Square Mile Coastal Haven

Written by SurfWriter Girls Sunny Magdaug and Patti Kishel

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration announced that new regulations have been finalized to protect the seafloor off the coasts of Washington, Oregon and California.

These would put an end to deep ocean trawling that damages the habitat of corals and sponges that provide for marine life.

The new protections that go into effect in 2020 cover 140,000 square miles of critical ocean ecosystems.

The nonprofit environmental group Oceana helped to bring about the regulations through its years of advocacy for the region and the scientific research data it gathered showing the damage being done by commercial fishing gear to the ocean floor.

Oceana’s Pacific campaign manager and senior research scientist, Ben Enticknap, said, the regulations are “a win-win for ocean conservation and fishermen.”

“Healthy oceans rely on a healthy seafloor and these new conservation areas will ensure that commercially important fish and other ocean animals, like deep-sea corals, octopus, crab and sea stars, can thrive into the future.”

Environmentalists have long opposed bottom trawl fishing methods because of the destruction caused by the weighted nets that are dragged over the ocean floor to catch the fish in their path.

The protections will enable fish populations to flourish and benefit both the ocean environment and fisheries.

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Kit Kat Candy Wrapper Art

Origami Artworks for the Environment

Written by SurfWriter Girls Sunny Magdaug and Patti Kishel

Japanese chocolate maker Kit Kat is swapping its plastic candy wrappers for recyclable paper ones that you can use to make origami artworks.

Kit Kat’s parent company Nestle says this should reduce the brand’s plastic waste by 380 tons a year. Nestle wants to have all its product packaging 100% recyclable by 2025.

The new candy wrapper includes instructions on how to fold the paper into a crane – a symbol of happiness and eternal youth throughout Asia.

In Japan it’s believed that if you fold a thousand origami cranes your wish will come true.

Kit Kat hopes its origami paper candy wrappers stimulate interest in origami. The Japanese paper-folding art dates back to the Edo Period (1603-1867).

SurfWriter Girls Sunny Magdaug and Patti Kishel are Kit Kat fans and love origami. With the new candy wrappers, we can indulge in both – and help the environment, too.

That’s definitely the cat’s meow!

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Swallows Take Flight

Parting is Such Sweet Sorrow

Written by SurfWriter Girls Sunny Magdaug and Patti Kishel

San Juan Capistrano’s famous cliff swallows have been taking to the sky to begin their long journey back to their wintering grounds in Argentina, some 6,000 miles south.

Each year around the Day of San Juan, October 23rd, the iconic birds leave the Southern California mission city to go back to Goya, Argentina – a trip that takes about 30 days.

Then, it’s hoped, that as the birds have done for centuries, they will faithfully return to California on St Joseph’s Day, March 19th.

Though San Juan Capistrano is much better known for the swallows’ return in the spring – a time of festivals and celebrations – their fall departure is part of the cycle of life…

and a bond that the two cities share.

SurfWriter Girls Sunny Magdaug and Patti Kishel have seen the birds’ comings and goings firsthand.

Over the years, a few swallows have even made their way to Patti and her husband Greg’s house to build their mud nests under the eaves. And, when we’re at the mission we always raise a toast to their safe journey.

Swallows and their nests are fully protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918.

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Marie Tharp Mapped the Ocean’s Depths

Uncovering Underwater Mysteries

Written by SurfWriter Girls Sunny Magdaug and Patti Kishel

Thanks to the pioneering work of American geologist Marie Tharp (1920 – 2006) the mysteries of the ocean’s depths are a little less mysterious.

From 1957 to 1977 Tharp turned the raw data from researchers’ seismic readings of the Atlantic Ocean sea floor into elaborate maps depicting the contours of the ocean bottom. To the surprise of everyone, the maps showed the sea floor to be diverse and multi-layered, rather than the flat, muddy surface most had thought.

Working at Columbia University’s Lamont Geological Laboratory, Tharp painstakingly drew by hand the underwater mountains, canyons and ridges that make up the Atlantic Ocean’s floor.

A woman in a man’s world, many of Tharp’s ideas about the ocean environment were initially dismissed as inconsequential “girl talk”…only to be proven true later.

She was one of the first to support the then controversial theory of continental drift – that the earth’s continents moved over geologic time.

She also identified the rift valley that runs from the Mid-Atlantic Ridge to the South Atlantic, information that would lead to today’s earthquake and tectonic plate research.

Tharp went on to map the Indian Ocean in 1964 and created a world ocean map in 1977, feats that led to her being called “the woman who discovered the backbone of Earth.”

The books Solving the Puzzle Under the Sea, by Robert Burleigh, and Soundings: The Story of the Remarkable Woman Who Mapped the Ocean Floor, by Hali Felt, both tell Tharp’s story of perseverance to map an ocean landscape that had eluded everyone else.

For her accomplishments Tharp received the National Geographic Society’s Hubbard Medal, the Society of Women Geographers Outstanding Achievement Award, and the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution’s Mary Sears Woman Pioneer in Oceanography Award.

In 1997 the Library of Congress named Tharp one of the four outstanding cartographers of the 20th Century, displaying one of her maps alongside pages from explorers Lewis and Clark’s journals and a rough draft of the Declaration of Independence.

After a lifetime behind-the-scenes Marie Tharp and her maps were finally where they should be – front and center for all to see.

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Photojournalist Sebastião Ribeiro Salgado

Bringing Brazil’s Forest Back to Life

Written by SurfWriter Girls Sunny Magdaug and Patti Kishel

 

Renowned Brazilian photojournalist Sebastião Ribeiro Salgado has used his camera and his artistry to document in black & white some of the world’s most dangerous and desolate spots.

 

After a lifetime of traveling, he was inspired to create something totally different and life-affirming: a living landscape in brilliant color – a forest in the heart of Brazil.

Located in Minas Gerais, some 300 miles Northwest of Rio de Janeiro, on 1,750-acres that belonged to his family, the land was barren from over-farming and ranching.

But, Salgado saw a different image. He remembered the vibrant landscape of trees and foliage teeming with wildlife that had once been there when he was growing up.

 

And, in 1994 he and his wife Lélia set out on an enormous task –

to reforest the land and bring it back to life.

 

Since then the couple has planted over 2 million trees…

and established the Instituto Terra foundation to oversee the work.

And now the land is rejuvenated and filled with the sights and sounds of life.

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Catch the Sustainable Fashion Wave!

Surfwear that Protects the Planet

Written by SurfWriter Girls Sunny Magdaug and Patti Kishel

There’s a new design wave in the surfwear industry – “sustainable fashion.”

European designer Anne Prahl, who works with major clothing brands and specializes in sustainable fashions, says we can expect to see, “a new generation of bio-based materials that are lab-grown and engineered, as well as 100% recyclable and biodegradable textiles.”

Prahl believes that “we need to embed sustainability right into our design concepts” from the very start and train new designers to think of how their fashions can be reused and repurposed after their initial use is over.

Adidas is putting recycling in the forefront and partnering with environmental nonprofit Parley for the Oceans. Together they’ve introduced sneakers made from abandoned gill-nets and turned recycled plastics that were polluting the ocean into fancy footwear. Along with this, Adidas uses color technology that employs less chemicals, water and energy in the dyeing process.

Active sportswear brand Volcom’s PASS (product and social safety) program emphasizes the ethical sourcing of fibers around the world. Volcom’s sustainability expert Derek Sabori told SurfWriter Girls Sunny Magdaug and Patti Kishel that its Farm to Yarn system tracks fibers each step of the way from their origin to destination.

Quiksilver has started using Repreve sustainable recycled fabrics in its Highline collection of boardshorts and is looking for better ways to eco-design its products.

Nike (and subsidiary Hurley) recently announced its commitment to sustainability. New chief operating officer Erick Sprunk says, “There’s no innovation without sustainability.” Nike’s 2019 shoe collection utilizes recycled fibers and plant-based dyes to reduce its carbon footprint.

Outdoor company Patagonia has been a leader in sustainability for over two decades. It’s using recycled wool, down, nylon and polyester in its new line.

Eleven-time World Surfing Champion Kelly Slater, who’s always at the vanguard of change, got on board the sustainable fashion wave last year with his own surf brand Outerknown. “We launched Outerknown to change the game and create clothing that not only reflects our style, but also our values,” said Slater.

Just as the first rule of design has always been that form follows function, now there’s another rule: style follows sustainability.

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