NOAA's Marine Debris Blog

Keepin' the Sea Free of Debris!

Marine Debris Affects a Species Whether It Is Endangered or Not


By: Dianna Parker

Monk seal resting on a derelict net.

Marine debris throughout the ocean puts endangered species like this Hawaiian monk seal at risk.
(Photo: NOAA)

Marine debris impacts hundreds of species around the globe, including endangered species such as the Hawaiian monk seal. Derelict and abandoned fishing gear is a major culprit behind entanglements, and our colleagues in the Office of National Marine Sanctuaries reminded us all yesterday that even though some of these animals live in marine sanctuary safe havens, they are still not free from marine debris: 

“Although the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands are one of the most remote places in the United States, the marine ecosystem there is still under pressure from human impacts. Papahānuamokuākea Marine National Monument provides one of the last remaining refuges for monk seals, whose population has shrunk to only 1,100 animals.”

With Endangered Species Day approaching this Friday, we’ll take a look at some other endangered or threatened species throughout the week – including turtles and whales – and how they’re impacted by marine debris. But today, let’s celebrate the Hawaiian monk seal (and the NOAA folks who removed the 11.5-ton derelict net on which this seal is taking its nap).


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 “Marine Debris Affects a Species Whether It Is Endangered or Not

  1. Aloha! I am hoping to use this photo of the Hawaiian monk seal on a marine debris poster at an upcoming event on Oahu that is intended to help understand why science is important and get them excited about it. If I could get permission to use photo or information about to I need to contact to ask for permission that would be amazing! Mahalo!

    • Hi Melissa, thanks for checking in! Because we are a federal agency, all of the NOAA photos highlighted on our blog (which should also be found on our website) are within the public domain, so you are welcome to use this NOAA photo. We ask that you simply credit NOAA.

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