Coastal Cleanup, Panama City, by Victoria

I watched Mission Blue the other night, a documentary film about the life and work of oceanographer Sylvia Earle and her mission to protect the ocean in the same way we protect the land. It is one of those powerful films that will stay with you for a long time afterwards and have you questioning your role in her mission.



I must have only seen a teeny tiny fraction of what Sylvia Earle has seen underwater and yet her opening lines of narration very much resonated with me: “I see things that others do not. A different world …. I think if others had the opportunity to witness what I have seen in my lifetime from thousands of hours underwater I would not seem like a radical at all”.


Sylvia Earle quote. A


Thanks to Mission Blue it was with heightened interest that I clicked on a link in my children’s school newsletter to this International Coastal Cleanup event.

“Listen up you two” I barked at my children “I’ve just signed us up to the Beach Cleanup this weekend. Woo hoo! Doesn’t that sound fun?” My strained smile was met with a collective groan. It struck me then that I have a hard enough time getting them to clean up their own room. Thankfully, and surprisingly, it proved to be a lot of fun despite the unwelcome rain. My five year old viewed it more as a treasure hunt and delighted in digging up rusty beer tops, plastic cutlery and other ‘gems’ including ‘dinosaur bones’ and ‘ancient fossils’ (which I later discovered he pocketed instead).


Veracruz Beach

Veracruz Beach, Panama

Beach Cleanup

Dark clouds rolling in…



Beach Cleanup Panama



Admittedly the rains got the better of us and after an hour or so, their levels of enthusiasm took a dramatic turn and we had to call it a day. Despite our small contribution I’m glad we went. Whilst I’m aware that there will always be more we can do / should be doing as a family to help protect the oceans I believe it’s a process. You’re not going to see me eliminating fish from my diet like Sylvia Earle has – although I did buy soya fish for the first time the other day and was amazed by how good it was (seriously) – but I like to think it’s a steppingstone in the right direction at least.


rubbish bags

A satisfying heap of rubbish.


If you’d like to know what you can do as a family to support Sylvia Earle’s Mission there are plenty of ideas at Mission Blue and Ocean Conservancy, including signing this 5th Graders’ petition to stop Dunkin’ Donuts from using foam cups in their stores.


Infographic Coastal Cleanup

Some fun infographics via Ocean Conservancy



Update: This year International Coastal Cleanup day falls on 19th September 2015


As always we’d love to hear your thoughts as well. Have you ever watched a film that has inspired you to take action? Have you or your children taken part in similar campaigns? Please share your tips, ideas, suggestions and thoughts below.


Family Guide to Panama

To view all our blog posts and videos in the Panama with Kids series see our Family Guide to Panama.