Costa Concordia Salvage A Success

Protecting our oceans and keeping them trash free is sometimes easier said than done. Take for instance the story of the Costa Concordia, a cruise liner that crashed into the Italian Giglio Harbor in 2012. It sat for 20 months in the harbor, molding to the rocky perch beneath, before salvage experts were able to right the partially submerged ship.

According to ABC news, “the most spectacular salvage operation in shipping history” has been completed as the 114,500-ton Costa Concordia was pulled upright. While the catastrophic wreck happened in January 2012, the ship was not righted until September 17th, 2013. The salvage crew was able to accomplish this feat by building a platform under the waves and moving the ship from a position that kept it in danger of slipping down the sloping seabed.

Captain Richard Habib, director of Titan Salvage, led the $800 million project over the course of 18 months. For the salvage workers, the operation was risky and complicated, but for the residents of the Italian harbor, the operation was a life-saver. Removing the massive ship from the harbor was long overdue and many residents and salvage workers alike popped champagne bottles in celebration as the 19 hour operation to roll the ship vertical came to a close at 4am.

After the successful righting of the ship, it will stay in the harbor as further inspections are made. On October 10, Dockwise Vanguard, a semi-submersible heavy lift ship able to carry up to 110,000 tons, was awarded the removal of Costa Concordia. After the ship is re-floated, it will be towed to an Italian port to be scrapped.

Dolphin Blue is happy to learn that crews were able to avoid a catastrophic event by removing the ship’s oil and fuel supply before it leaked into the harbor waters. Taking responsible steps to ensure the safety of the animals that call Giglio Harbor home is one more piece of this story that give it a happy ending.

Share

Dolphin Facts from Dolphin Blue

As the namesake of Dolphin Blue, here are a few fun facts about dolphins:

  • They can jump up to 30 ft.
  • They can have between 80 – 250 teeth
  • Dolphins can consume up to 30 lbs of fish per day
  • They have the ability to hear 10 times better than humans
  • Dolphins live in social groups from five to several hundred
  • Their pregnancies can last from 9-17 months depending on species
  • They can live up to 60 years
  • Dolphins communicate using clicks, whistles, and other vocalizations

To get an idea of how all of these skills work together in tandem, take a look at southern Africa’s sardine run that occurs every year between May and July. Each summer hoards of sardines swim north along the African coast where dolphins, sharks, and other wildlife wait to feed on them. Earth-Touch created this infographic to visually illustrate how dolphins hunt during this unusual phenomenon, employing all of their many talents with great efficiency.

With all of these offensive capabilities, Dolphins are also able to successfully defend and kill attacking sharks. For instance, killer whales are the largest member of the dolphin family and routinely defend their pods from sharks, with sometimes only one whale versus several sharks. However, dolphins use their skills for more than their own gain; they seem to have a remarkable capability for altruism. There are several widely publicized stories of dolphins taking heroic action to save humans and even dogs.

But there’s more! It is theorized that dolphins have very high intelligence with their brain mass to body ratio rivaling that of humans. For instance, dolphins, elephants, and apes are the only animals tested that can recognize a reflection in a mirror by demonstrating preening behaviors. What divas!

It is important for us to keep the earth and the oceans clean to promote such fascinating aquatic wildlife. Check out our products for new ways to stay eco-friendly.

Share

Dallas Zoo Creates Unlikely Trio

The Dallas Zoo has just become the new home to two male cheetah cubs named Kamau and Winspear. Some day they’ll be able to go from 0 to 60 mph in 3 seconds but today they’re meeting their new best friend. To calm the naturally nervous and rambunctious cheetahs, animal care specialists are employing an effective tactic used by zoos; they’re pairing the cheetah cubs with a black labrador puppy.

The two month old lab puppy is named Amani, meaning peace in Swahili, and he will live with the cheetahs 24/7. According to the animal care specialists supervising their introduction, eventually the cheetahs will see the puppy as one of their own, or part of their “coalition”. The dog will be a calming influence on the big cats insuring that they are relaxed enough to be taken into public.

The cheetah cubs are now part of the Dallas Zoo’s Animal Adventures program designed to educate the public about highly endangered species. The traveling outreach program exposes audiences to 30 different animals including a variety of birds, mammals and reptiles. Cheetahs could use the exposure. With less than 10,000 cheetahs in the wild, it is extremely important to educate the public on the beauty of the cheetah and to inspire communities to help protect them.

Share

Let There be Light: A guide to eco-friendly lighting options

As summer draws to an end and the days get shorter, that means less daylight — which, in turn, means more electricity used to illuminate your house. Given that lighting makes up a huge percentage of a home’s electricity bill (somewhere in the vicinity of a quarter of usage), looking at ways to save energy and money through your light bulbs makes good sense.

It’s been a long time since 1879, when Thomas Edison invented the light bulb, forever changing life for Americans. And like any invention, the ensuing 134 years have brought modifications and improvements — many that save you resources and money. With lighting constituting up to 25 percent of the average home energy budget, it’s a great place to look for reductions in energy usage.

Here’s a look at some eco-friendly lighting options:

CFLs
According to Energy Star, a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and U.S. Department of Energy program, CFLs use about 75 percent less energy than standard incandescent bulbs and last up to 10 times longer, plus they save approximately $30 in electricity costs over each bulb’s lifetime. CFLs should be left on at least 15 minutes at a time in order to keep their lifespan at its peak potential.

Although CFLs used to give off harsh lighting, the color is improved and warmer now, making them a good option for everything from track lighting to porch lights to table lamps. Because they can sometimes take time to warm up to full power, they may not be the best choice for timed lighting. However, CFLs are definitely faster to light fully than in the recent past.

One of the turnoffs to buying these bulbs is a higher initial cost than incandescents. In the long run, though, you can save money — as an example, an 18-watt CFL used in place of a 75-watt incandescent will save about 570 kilowatt-hours over its lifetime, equating to a $45 savings (assuming 8 cents per kilowatt-hour).

Likely the biggest concern about CFLs is that they contain small amounts of mercury, which can be harmful if the bulb breaks. In case of a spill, the EPA provides guidelines for cleanup here.

More than 50 American Lighting Association showrooms across the country currently offer CFL recycling, as do many retail stories such as Home Depot and IKEA.

LEDs
When the city of Ann Arbor, Michigan, replaced all downtown street lights with LEDs, they reaped an estimated savings of $100,000 annually in energy costs — or the equivalent of taking 400 cars off the road per year.

While these energy-efficient bulbs have been restricted to small usages in the past, like Christmas lights, pen lights, and in TV remote controls, more household applications are being developed every day. One barrier to their widespread adoption is that they are currently much more expensive than both incandescents and CFLs, but researchers have been working to develop less-expensive methods of producing the lights, which will bring down the price for consumers.

LEDs last about 10 times longer than CFLs, making them the most energy-efficient option out there right now. They don’t get hot like incandescents, and they don’t break as easily as other light bulbs. Many cities and electric companies offer rebates for LED lighting, so check with your provider to see what options you have.

According to Cree LED Lighting, the average price in the U.S. of running a 65-watt light for 50,000 hours would cost $325 in electricity. By using a 12-watt LED bulb, running the light for 50,000 hours would cost only $60, plus the lights are replaced much less frequently.

Energy Star Lighting
Energy Star has long been known for its appliances, but the program has also certified lighting fixtures for more than a decade, and now has around 20,000 offerings. While screw-based CFLs (those that you substitute for an incandescent bulb) are great at conserving energy, Energy Star fixtures outfitted with CFLs are even better.

If every American home replaced just one light bulb with an Energy Star qualified bulb, we would save enough energy to light more than 3 million homes for a year, save more than $600 million in annual energy costs, and prevent greenhouse gases equivalent to the emissions of more than 800,000 cars, according to a segment on CBS.

Looking forward, Energy Star is working on labeling solid-state light fixtures — those that employ LEDs as the light source — and you can expect to see more Energy Star qualified lighting products hitting the market. They also feature a buyer’s guide that can help you figure out what kind of bulb you need in different fixtures, based on what kind of light you want.

For a side-by-side comparison of incandescents, CFLs, and LEDs on issues of lighting quality and cost, read this article from financial blog The Simple Dollar.

Share

Infographic Friday: Be Bold, Be You

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe was an inspirational writer and politician who lived during the 1800′s and is considered by many to be the German Shakespeare. He not only wrote poetry and novels, he also penned treatises on botany, color, and anatomy. His famous quote reminds us to believe in ourselves, to be bold, and to create our own opportunities.

Share

Infographic Friday: Water Equals Life

Leonardo da Vinci is best known for painting the “Mona Lisa” and “The Last Supper”.  But he was more than a gifted artist, he was also an engineer and a scientist.  Much of his scientific studies were dedicated to understanding the movement and characteristics of water which culminated in his published work, Water Theory: On the origin and fate of water.  Ahead of his time, in his water theory da Vinci came close to defining the hydrological cycle, pointing out that water passes through major river systems multiple times, equaling sums much greater than the volumes contained in the world’s oceans.

In true artistic fashion, da Vinci was able to sum up the importance of water with his famous quote, “Water is the driving force of all nature.”

"Water is the driving force of all nature." - Leonardo da Vinci

Share

10 Ways You Can Keep The Coast Clean

According to reports from the Ocean Conservancy, there were more than 10 million pounds of trash littering our coasts last year.  The nation’s coastlines were covered in an array of items: cigarettes, food wrappers and containers, plastic bottles and bags, caps, lids, eating utensils, straws and stirrers, glass bottles, cans and paper bags, mattresses, even kitchen sinks!

Trash littering the coast can eventually end up in our oceans, affecting the wildlife we care about and the ecosystems that they depend on. But we can do something about it. Pledge to fight trash today and follow some of the simple tips below to do your part for a better tomorrow.

10 Things You Can Do For Trash Free Seas

Infographic courtesy of  Prevention.com

Share

Exciting Eco-Eating: The Down & Dirty On Edible Insects

The U.N. recently released a report extolling the virtues of edible insects as an environmentally responsible alternative to meat as a source of protein and other nutrients.  With their high fat, protein, fiber, and mineral contents, edible insects certainly pack a healthy punch! What’s even better is that the cost to our environment to raise insects for consumption is far less than the impact of raising large livestock for meat.

Adding mealworms to caramel apples gives this fun treat a tasty crunch!

Adding mealworms to caramel apples gives this fun treat a tasty crunch!

Even though entomophagy, or the act of eating insects, hasn’t quite caught on in the West (yet!), in many other countries around the world, bugs are eaten with gusto and are often considered a delicacy. So, why should you add bugs to your menu?

The Problem: Meat is Unsustainable
Relying on large livestock (cattle, pigs, and chickens, for example) for one’s primary source of protein means one must rely on highly inefficient, greenhouse-gas-producing, and sometimes cruel practices to obtain nutrients. Not to mention the health problems associated with consuming too much meat.  With the world’s population growing at an incredible rate and the demand for food rising along with it, having enough land to support both people and large livestock will soon become an issue, as well. All this is why many have said that producing and consuming as much livestock as we do is not sustainable.

But, you’re not willing to go cold turkey on your meat and go vegetarian? Why not try substituting meat with insects every now and then? All the nutrients, none of the burden on our environment.

Edible Insects: Less is More
Insects are an eco-friendly food option for a simple reason: they need less—less food (some insects can be raised on human/animal waste, which reduces the possibility of environmental contamination and avoids wasting food that could be eaten by humans), less water, less space. They even release fewer greenhouse gases and ammonia than cows, pigs, and chickens.

Many insects’ feed conversion rates (the amount of feed it takes to put on 1 kg (2.2 lbs) of body weight in an animal) are much lower than traditional meat sources. The feed conversion rates of crickets, chickens, pigs, and cows are shown below:

Crickets 3.7 lbs of feed: 2.2 lbs of body weight gain
Chickens 5.5 lbs of feed: 2.2 lbs of body weight gain
Pigs 11 lbs of feed: 2.2 lbs of body weight gain
Cows 22 lbs of feed: 2.2 lbs of body weight gain

Large livestock create a larger toll on the earth with problems ranging from habitat destruction, loss of biodiversity, greenhouse gas emissions, and contamination from livestock and feed farms and farming practices. In general, insects are more efficient to farm and their impact on the environment is much less severe.

For something we spend so much time and money trying to exterminate, insects may actually be the first step to a solution to many of our world’s burgeoning social and environmental problems. All we have to do is get past those legs.

Creepy Crawly Recipes
Looking for some yummy ways to try bugs? Check out these sites, and add some environmentally conscious treats to your plate.

http://edibug.wordpress.com/recipes/
http://www.ent.iastate.edu/misc/insectsasfood.html
http://www.insectsarefood.com/recipes.html

For other ways to add a splash of green to your life, check out Dolphin Blue for sustainable office, home, and pet supplies.

(This blog was written by Dolphin Blue’s amazing intern, Elisa Rivera.)

Share

Operation Kindness: Dolphin Blue Reaches Out to Tornado Survivors

On the afternoon of May 20, 2013, a category EF5 tornado devastated the city of Moore, Oklahoma, taking the lives of more than two-dozen residents and injuring hundreds more. With winds estimated at 210 mph, the twister ripped through the Oklahoma City suburb leaving a path of destruction 1.3 miles wide and 17 miles long. Unfortunately, block after block of flattened homes and businesses is not new to Moore. In 1999, another deadly EF5 tornado destroyed the area, following an eerily similar storm path. Once again, the residents of Moore were left to pick up the pieces.

Home destroyed by the powerful tornado that ripped through Moore, OK.

Homes destroyed by the powerful tornado that ripped through Moore, OK on May 20, 2013.

Dolphin Blue’s Accounting Manager, Robin Lynn, was quick to put out the call for local donations and organize a goodwill trip to Moore in an effort to relieve the burden and show support for survivors.  She collected clothes, canned goods, bottled water and everyday supplies from friends, family and coworkers.  Robin also worked with Dolphin Blue CEO, Tom Kemper, to handpick items to donate from the Dolphin Blue store such as Preserve kitchenware, personal care items from Nourish, cleaning products from Mrs. Meyers and Better Life, and Green Toys.

Dolphin Blue Accounting Manager, Robin Lynn, greets Moore, OK tornado survivors with kindness and donations.

Dolphin Blue’s Robin Lynn greets tornado survivors with kindness and donations.

After loading up her truck and making the three hour trip to Moore, Oklahoma, Robin surveyed the heartbreaking wreckage of homes in the area. She met with local residents who were volunteering with humanitarian organizations heading up the relief efforts in the area and donated the items she had collected.

After returning home Robin reflected, “The effects of the tornado were devastating, but the kindness and appreciation from so many people coming together to help their fellow neighbors was truly inspiring. There is a powerful energy in Moore, OK, that I think will allow them to overcome this adversity.”

Dolphin Blue is proud of Robin and her heart-lead efforts to support the survivors of the Moore, Oklahoma tornado.  If you wish donate or volunteer to the ongoing relief efforts, please click here to find out ways you can help.

Share