NOAA's Marine Debris Blog

Keepin' the Sea Free of Debris!

In Which We Become Heroes

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For those of you following along at home on the NOAA ship tracker, you may have noticed that we are hightailing it away from Pearl and Hermes, our home for the last several days and source of many tons of debris. Those of you who check out the Central Pacific Hurricane Center may have noticed that Hurricane Neki is in our neighborhood.

Hurricane Neki is on a path to hit French Frigate Shoals
Friday afternoon, too close for comfort to Laysan.

We’ve been assigned a new and important mission, to rescue those poor souls on Laysan Island. Perhaps you remember them from the blog entry on October 11, The Great Cream Cheese and Weed-Whacker Mission. Hurricane Neki is looking to hit pretty close to Laysan, an island that’s at most 40 feet above sea level. We’ll be picking up three monk seal campers, four Fish and Wildlife Service staff, and the most crucial pieces of personal and scientific equipment. We should arrive sometime in the next two or three hours.

We first got word of this new mission yesterday mid-morning when the ship’s commanding officer called out to let us know we needed to be done with our marine debris operations and back on board by 4pm (that’s 1600 hours when you’re on a ship). I think we hit that goal pretty close; once the last pile of debris was secured, we were under way.

Kenji weighs the last debris load prior
to our departure for Laysan.

Everyone rushed to get their clothes washed before the new folks board; they don’t exactly have laundry facilities on Laysan. This morning we had a meeting of the scientists at 10am and spent a whirlwind hour or two bleaching the Avons (to prevent the accidental introduction of plants or animals transported from Pearl and Hermes) and securing everything that could blow or roll away.

The wet lab is lashed to within an inch of its life
in preparation for potential high seas.

Derek, Max, Jim, and Mark secure containers to the deck.

Could this be the last of the derelict gear we pull this season? We’ll keep you posted on how the mission of mercy proceeds.


The marine debris corral is semi-filled.
We hope to be able to gather more.

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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