Meet  Eileen Clancy Biegel

          The ocean has always invoked a sense of awe with me. I was fortunate to have grown up near the ocean and as a child it brought an endless array of activities to keep me both busy and happy. As I grew older I wanted to ensure that I was always near the ocean, so I followed in my family’s tradition and enlisted in the U. S. Coast Guard. My first assignment was on LORAN (Long-range aids to navigation) Station Kure Island, a tiny spec of an island located in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands. I would spend one year on the island, perfectly content to be near the ocean but also alarmingly aware of what was deposited on the shoreline: an assortment of plastic household items, toys, and fishing nets. Unfortunately, I also encountered Hawaiian Monk Seals entangled in the discarded fishing nets and witnessed an assortment of plastic remnants in the nests holding baby Laysan albatross chicks.
          There was a saying with the “Coasties” that were assigned to LORSTA Kure: You can leave Kure but it can’t leave you." This was particularly true about me. I eventually became an elementary school teacher who enjoyed sharing her experience on Kure. One of my favorite topics to teach is about the ocean. I always ensured that my students learned about the endangered animals that made Kure their home, creating brochures and documentaries to share with an authentic audience to create an awareness about the impact of marine debris in our ocean.
          Environmental education begins with making others aware. I wrote Ocean One to educate both children and adults about the marine debris problem. It is not only located near Kure because there are a number of gyres that are in our ocean. These naturally-occurring currents cannot be changed but what ends up in our ocean can be changed. Remember there is only one ocean, only one chance to save it.

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