NOAA's Marine Debris Blog

Keepin' the Sea Free of Debris!

Pacific Ocean Bottom Trawl

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Early day today! We had to get up and meet our ride at 5:30am. It wasn’t too bad for us since we were still on east coast time. We went out with the Orange County Sanitation District to observe their bottom otter trawls. They sample around the discharge pipes for fish and invertebrates to ensure that the discharge is not having an effect on wildlife. During their trawls, they also pick up and record any debris they come across.

We set off early to a gorgeous morning! The water was nice and calm and we heard the seals yelling at us for disturbing their nap as we rounded the buoy to head out to sea. Courtney and I were both amazed at how far you could see into the water. We’re used to muddy and cloudy water and this was nothing like it…a beautiful blue. The first trawl went smoothly, and there was no debris caught (which is good really!). The only thing they had was a worm tube. We were able to see how they sort the fish and invertebrates into the buckets by species and then measure and weigh the first 30 of each. I was excited to see the poisonous scorpion fish (which they handled with pliers) and the young oar fish!

The second trawl of the day was deeper and we could hear the winch creaking as it drug the tow. On the pull in, a bearing broke on the winch so they thought they might have something large…but it turned out to be a normal tow. The process happened again, this time pulling out an octopus and several starfish as well, but still no debris. The only debris we came across was on our way back into the dock when they spotted a balloon and picked it up. According to them, it is fairly common to see balloons.

This afternoon we went to see the LA River. They have set up a boom to capture the debris that comes downstream during rain events. We were told that last year the boom broke due to the weight of the debris! It has yet to be fixed and reattached to the other side of the river. I can’t imagine seeing that amount of debris!

Tomorrow we travel back to the east coast. For our last night and saying goodbye to the Pacific, we watched a beautiful sunset from Newport Beach.


Author: NOAA Marine Debris Program

The NOAA Marine Debris Program envisions the global ocean and its coasts, users, and inhabitants free from the impacts of marine debris. Our mission is to investigate and solve the problems that stem from marine debris, in order to protect and conserve our nation's marine environment, natural resources, industries, economy, and people.

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