We know: Beginning a series on current ocean news seems like a bleak proposition. Between the expanding garbage patches and relentless rise of warming seas, positive stories aren’t exactly growing on trees. So we’ve gone to the trouble to net you 36 whole reasons to be excited about the future of the high seas — including magic-seeming plastic removal tech, more facts confirming the radness of sharks, and (of course) a cute baby seal video.

1. After learning about the harmful effects of ocean-borne plastic, a group of fifth and sixth grade students persuaded Dunkin’ Donuts to phase out the use of foam cups. These kids are superheroes.

2. The Vermont Sail Freight Project is ditching oil to deliver fresh produce and other goods from Vermont to New York by sailboat. Not bad for a landlocked state.