NOAA's Marine Debris Blog

Keepin' the Sea Free of Debris!

First Day of Operations, and a Relaxing Snorkel

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Today was Sunday (well, it was when I started typing). It was the first day of operations for the dive teams—two boats went out with five people on each. I didn’t hear all the details and will ask one of them to blog in the future. However, when we met with the boats around 5pm at the Department of Marine and Wildlife Resources pier, the snorkel team was just pulling in. They had been able to survey more than their planned area and picked up an impressive amount of debris to boot.

Considering there were no plans to recover debris,
the first day’s haul was a good start.

We unloaded the corrugated metal roofing, tires, fabric, and household goods like pots, pans, and kettles.

Max and I unload iron roofing material, while
Kyle unloads the day’s debris from the 10-meter Ambar.

The pile of debris collected on day 1 of operations,
except for the barrels.

Crushed kettles and pots lie alongside a candy-cane
Christmas decoration swept away by the tsunami.

While the boats were out surveying marine debris, Doug, Ruth, and I enjoyed a day of leisure at the airport “pool” located at the end of the runway.

You can watch the planes take off from the
comfort of the water. Yes, that black speck is a small plane.

I believe this was an area dredged out when they built the runway, but it’s well populated with coral reef denizens.

A charming solitary blue fish.

If a solitary blue fish is not your style, there are plenty
of others to choose from.

While a day off snorkeling may seem unrelated to marine debris, it recharged our batteries and reminded us of how important coral reefs are to the territory of American Samoa. By providing food, protection from storm waves, and tourist attractants, coral reefs are important to the economy and culture of the territory. It’s times like these when I love my job; by surveying the marine debris generated by the tsunami, we hope to get the word out on just what it will take to help the territory recover more quickly.

In stark contrast to the beauty under the water was the walk out to the site. Along the narrow stretch between Pala Lagoon and the fence around the runway, debris has washed up on the beach and blown into the brush and against the fence. Lots and lots of debris. It seems clear that it isn’t just dumped along the path—it’s too evenly distributed along the more than half-hour walk, and it’s not the type of stuff you’d take on a walk out to a fishing or swimming spot. We saw plenty of bottles, chip packets, and saimin bowls, but also remnants of molded plastic chairs, toys, shoes, deodorant bottles, shoes, toothbrushes, shoes, and a medical syringe. I can’t upload a video here, but you almost have to watch it to understand the sheer uniformity of marine debris cover along this path.

Land-based debris apparently washed in
from Pala Lagoon collects along the runway fence.

Batteries (and a few irresistible lighters) were
all the debris Ruth, Doug, and I collected on our day off.

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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