NOAA's Marine Debris Blog

Keepin' the Sea Free of Debris!

Working My Way into the Marine Debris Team


Today dawned gorgeous again.

Right? So that was very nice. Then Guy showed up at the morning safety meeting in his grandfather’s wetsuit, circa 1970 1980. [Thanks, Guy’s dad!] Very Team Zissou.

Finally, in addition to the usual two-fisted dap we exchange with Ray just before we climb down the ladder into the Avon, Bruce added a tap on the hardhat. So far an auspicious start to the morning.

The commute in Avon 3 was quiet but relaxed. The morning, with Derek and Kevin in the water, went like clockwork. Small nets picked up at regular intervals and then danced on filled the bottom of the boat with a dense base for whatever might follow.

As usual, they quickly swam the entire route we were assigned, allowing us to move onto alternate routes. Lunch was plentiful, with all the usual suspects (lunchmeat sandwich fixings, chips, sports drink, fruit, celery and carrots), but this time with two sleeves of Oreos!! (We didn’t even open the second sleeve, but just knowing it was there was pretty sweet.)

With all these great signs, I decided to suit up and do a swim survey. Mark and Megan were gracious enough to let me join their team. We’re still in the Maze, so most of the swimming is over and around long fingers of reef surrounded on one side by moderately shallow sand and the other side by deep water. With three of us, Mark and Megan generally took the outsides and I swam down the middle of the coral. I swam at least 90 minutes. Saw one net, which Mark had already seen and reported to the boat, but still… For the rest of it, I swam my little arms off trying to keep up with my teammates and concentrated hard on spotting nets. They’re wily things, those nets. They are clever mimics and sometimes blend in remarkably well with the substrate. I’d love to show you what the swim survey looks like in the water, but there’s no way I was going to try to swim with a camera.

After we’d finished most of the alternate route, we checked out a couple isolated bommies (coral tower or head). I just learned that bommie is short for bombora, an Aboriginal word for a wave that breaks over a submerged rock. There were nets visible from the boat on each of them, so we did some quick surveys and net removals to top off the load (a respectable 536 kg, which is the dead-lift capacity of world’s strongest man competitor Mariusz Pudzianowski) and exhaust the last of my swim stamina.

The commute home to the Sette was glorious, with three of us sprawled on the “just right” sized net mound, close to napping. When we got back, I knew what to do with our gear and my own stuff. I finally was able to offload equipment from the other boats, rinse it off, and dry it without just being in the way. After dinner, I also helped Megan enter data into the computer. Today, it kind of feels like I’m becoming a useful member of this society!

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.

2 thoughts on “Working My Way into the Marine Debris Team

  1. This sounds like the perfect day! Good job you! And I really love the quantitative analogies… though I prefer pictures of cars to scarily muscled men. 🙂

  2. Grandfather’s wet suit??? my??? Little Guy is in Big Guy’s Suit, not gramps!!! That’s not the 70’s, the 80’s. You all know you want matching suits. Great job everyone! Gald u all are safe! The door is always open in Las Vegas and Little Guy has the number!!!

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