NOAA's Marine Debris Blog

Keepin' the Sea Free of Debris!

Visual Surveys on the NOAA vessel "Laidly"

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Holly, Courtney, and I traveled up to Sandy Point State Park to meet up with the NOAA vessel “Laidly” for our visual debris surveys. We arrived there at 8am, which meant for me I had to get up at 5:30am…ick! I didn’t mind it so much since it was a field day though! We left the dock shortly thereafter and headed out on Chesapeake Bay towards our destination- the Magothy River. During the short ride there, we were briefed on all of the electrical equipment that we could use to plot our courses and even print out our transects if we wished. We’ll have to remember that in the future.

Our first visual survey was started at the mouth of the Magothy River. Since this was our first run-through, Courtney and I both looked off of the starboard side of the bow at a range of 60ft. We ran the transect for approximately a half hour and did not see a single item of debris! That is, unless you count bird feathers. 🙂 We tried several more transects throughout the river and still came up empty handed. Our only bit of excitement was when a local resident contacted our vessel through the radio and was complaining about the size of our wake. Apparently he had a radar gun out and thought we were going a bit too fast…although we were actually going under the suggested limit!

Thinking our luck of seeing debris (and therefore actually testing the method) might be better near Annapolis, we traveled down to the Severn River. While there, we ran a transect and only saw one cigarette. There was a cup we spotted, but it was definitely out of the 60ft range so we were unable to mark a tally for it. Besides debris, we also spotted a few jellyfish and a skate! That was the last location we were able to make it to that day so we headed back to Sandy Point.


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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