Environmental Conservation, Stewardship, Changing Practices

What’s in your water?  What you can do about it? Learn, Look, Act and Practice

Clean waterways and oceans are vital to the survival and health of both marine wildlife and humans. Unfortunately, our drinking water, waterways, and oceans are suffering from many man-made assaults – plastic pollution, fertilizer runoff, nutrient overloading, harmful endocrine disruptor chemicals, toxins that bio-accumulate up the food chain, and mercury.

First, learn about the problems. 

Second, look locally for evidence of these problems.

Third, act locally to address environmental problems.

Fourth, become an ecosteward and practice environmental stewardship.

Indian Lagoon dolphins wave ride by Capt NanOcean Conservation, Fertilizer Runoff and Nutrient Overloading:

Every year people use fertilizers on their lawns, gardens, and rural farm crops. Runoff from phosphorus and fast-release nitrogen fertilizers is a major contributor to algae blooms in our lakes, ponds, estuaries, and coastal waters. These blooms reduce the amount of dissolved oxygen in the water and give off toxins, both of which can make fish and marine mammals sick. Bottlenose Dolphins in the Indian River Lagoon (FL) have been dying at abnormally high rates since 2002. Dolphins are exhibiting fungal skin eating infections derived from toxic algae blooms. The sliming of our waters must stop. To maintain healthy lawns and crop production, there is no need for fertilizers, especially in phosphorous rich states like Florida.

plastic ocean canoeing.jpgOcean Conservation Plastic Pollution:

Human usage of plastic products has reached epic proportions, and most of it is ending up in our waterways and oceans. Annually, 500 billion plastic bags are used worldwide. Every hour Americans use 2.5 million plastic bottles, and every week we buy 500 million bottles of water. We generate 10.5 million tons of plastic waste a year, but recycle only 1 to 2% of it*. 44% of all seabirds in US coastal waters eat plastic, and 267 marine species are affected by plastic garbage*. The oceans have become a ‘plastic soup’. Marine life ingests the chemicals from the plastics, which can lead a variety of serious health problems. Recent studies show that tens of thousands of marine mammals die every year from the effects of plastic pollution. *Source: National Geographic, 2009

orca1.jpgOcean Conservation Toxic Chemicals: 

Toxic chemicals, such as BPA and arsenic, are getting into our water supply. One of the main culprits is the plastic water bottle. The plastic leaches BPA and other chemicals, which are absorbed by people when they drink the water, and can build up in the body’s fatty tissues. These chemicals can act as endocrine disrupters, altering the functioning of our hormonal system and leading to problems in people and wildlife. Endocrine disruptor chemicals are also getting into the oceans, leaching from plastic trash and commonly used materials like Gore-Tex, Teflon, and Scotchgard. Killer Whales in Puget Sound, WA have a lower-than-normal birth rate and higher mortality rates.

Common Loon with chick on backWatershed Conservation Mercury:

Mercury is being deposited in our soil and waterways from two main sources – chlorine-producing plants and coal-fired power plants. These plants emit around 50 tons of mercury and facilities that recycle auto scrap release 10 to 12 tons of mercury into the air every year. Mercury pollution is causing serious health problems and reproductive success issues in the common loon. In fact, loons living in the Northeast have been found with higher levels of mercury in their body than any other animal on the world. Common loons are particularly vulnerable to mercury because they are at the top of the food chain, spend almost all their time in the water, eat fish, and have long lifespan (up to 30 years). Due to all these factors, they are an excellent indicator species of ecosystem health.

What You Can Do:

1. Subscribe to Ocean River Institute eAlerts.

2. Sign our petition letters for sound and sustainable environmental practices, for example save Florida dolphins from deaths related to nutrient overloading.

3. Take Specific actions:

  • Cut down on your use of plastics by using reusable bags for your food shopping and BPA-free steel water bottles.
  • Make sure the plastics you buy are recyclable and recycle them after usage
  • Keep plastic bags from getting into the oceans by keeping them off the streets and parks
  • Stop purchasing and/or using fertilizers with phosphorous and fast-release nitrogen
  • Avoid eating fish with high levels of concentrated mercury in them like farm-raised salmon and wild swordfish
  • Educate yourself on the chemicals in your common household food and cosmetics, to make the right choices
  • Reduce your carbon footprint, too much carbon in the air is polluting our skies and forcing carbon into the ocean causing sea water to become more acidic.

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In This Section

1% for the Planet Horizontal Logo

Thanks to ORI's 1% for the Planet Partners:

Newf Surfboard Net company with newfoundland dog on surfboard

Essential Safe Products logo



The Backcountry Blacksmith recycled reclaimed  ironware


Dawn Patrol energy products



ORI teeshirt with dolphin Oceanus motif

Purple ORI dolphin shirt by Eco Shirt Shop

Ocean River Dolphins

Sustainable Tee

Kyle Robinson, Printer
Earth Friendly Screen Printing


Ecowell Company logo Ecowell


Little Twig Company logo Little Twig



Fly Fish 10K everglades CompanyFly Fish 10K


More Ways to Support ORI

ORI Teddy Bear

Boston Harbor Sunrise Travel Mug

Tidepooling at dawn iPad2 case

Save Oceans and Rivers with ORI logo items.

ORI stainless thermos bottle

ORI Raglan JerseyMaine Coast Overlook Tote Bay



Rob talks dolphins with Stephen McCulloch, Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute on Moir's Environmental Dialogues

Rob talks with Dr. Greg Bossart, Indian River Lagoon dolphin diseases expert on Moir's Environmental Dialogues.

Sherman’s Lagoon syndicated cartoonist Jim Toomey talks with Rob about the benefits of President Obama's National Ocean Policy. 


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