NOAA's Marine Debris Blog

Keepin' the Sea Free of Debris!

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Let’s Show Our Teachers Appreciation

By: Leah Henry

It’s Teacher Appreciation Day, so we in the NOAA Marine Debris Program would like to give a great big thank you to all teachers, especially those who spend time talking about marine debris in their classrooms.

Here are some tools to help teachers with marine debris lessons: We offer free downloadable activities and curriculum on our website, we fund and support marine debris prevention through education and outreach projects through regional partnership grants, and we host an annual marine debris art contest to engage students and empower their communities in taking steps to “Keep the Sea Free of Debris!” Stay tuned for this year’s contest, opening in the fall.

Thank you teachers and educators – both formal and informal. We appreciate all that you do to keep our students informed and our environment clean.


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One community’s dogged determination removes 90 unclaimed vessels

By: Kim Albins and Leah Henry

MOBILE, ALABAMA — Project partners tripled their intended removal of 24 to 36 high priority abandoned and derelict vessels (ADVs) and were able to remove 90 ADVs! This wildly successful removal project in coastal Alabama, led by the Dauphin Island Sea Lab (DISL), Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources and Dog River Clearwater Revival resulted in more than 130 metric tons of debris removed from Dog River, Fowl River and on the Dauphin Island Causeway!

By combining dogged determination and the overwhelming support from the local community with the NOAA Restoration Center and Marine Debris Program’s Community-based Marine Debris Removal Grant  this group greatly exceeded their goals and made a huge difference in the Dog River and Fowl River watersheds.

This ADV removal effort included 12 organizations, 87 volunteers (1,611 hours donated), and support from across Alabama’s coast.

In phase 1 of the removal, the team contracted Lovvorn Pile Driving, Inc. to remove up to 36 vessels. Mr. Lovvorn’s local knowledge and desire for a clean watershed ensured the project’s success and resulted in lower removal costs.

In phase 2, DISL worked with J&W Marine, expanding into parts of the Fowl River watershed. When contacted to discuss the contract, Wayne Eldridge, owner of J&W Marine and former commercial oysterman, stated, “I would have done the work for free. I’ve wanted to clean that up for years.” Eldridge’s interest and long‐standing relationships in coastal Alabama benefited this project and the health of the Fowl River watershed.

In addition to this impressive removal operation, the team has been spreading the message to prevent ADVs. By educating the surrounding community, the team aims to reduce the number of vessels abandoned in Alabama’s emergent wetlands, submerged aquatic vegetation, riparian boundaries, and un-vegetated soft river bottoms. They have also replanted native submerged aquatic vegetation to restore the habitat and have already witnessed the return of local vegetation and wildlife. The team continues to conduct research on the impacts of ADVs on water quality and habitat and share what they have learned with others around dealing with similar ADV issues around the United States.

To read more about this project on the NOAA MDP website:


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Lagoon Keepers Battle the Status Quo: ADVs in Palm Beach County Florida

By: Sarah Latshaw

PALM BEACH, FLORIDA — On average, removes one abandoned and derelict vessel each month, which is merely keeping pace with the number of vessels that become abandoned or derelict in local waterways.

With support from the NOAA Marine Debris Program’s Community-based marine Debris Removal Grant, is on course to remove 31 Abandoned and Derelict Vessels by June 2016. That is approximately 310 tons of debris. After removal, the vessels are either salvaged or broken down and disposed of in a pre-approved landfill, per local requirements and environmental regulations. This removal will improve the marine environment and benefit the diverse wildlife in this area.

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Read more about this project on the NOAA MDP Website: Derelict Vessel Removal in Florida’s Palm Beach County

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A derelict dirty dozen vessels targeted for removal in Coral Bay

By: Leah Henry and Jason Rolfe

CORAL BAY, ST. JOHN, U.S. VIRGIN ISLANDS — After a boat grounding, owners and volunteers often manage to refloat the vessel. But over the last 24 years, many vessels have been abandoned and currently pose a hazard within Inner Coral Harbor’s shallow waters. Removing these derelict vessels before strong storms will prevent them from battering the surrounding mangroves and marine habitat, and protect Coral Bay from damage.

With support from the NOAA Marine Debris Program’s Community-based Marine Debris Removal Grant, the Coral Bay Community Council (CBCC), a non-profit organization committed to the healthy future of Coral Bay, adds the removal of up to 12 derelict vessels to their list of accomplishments. CBCC regularly engages the community in environmental education, infrastructure design, and environmentally-responsible land development and planning.

The marine debris removal and disposal in this project will work in concert with the progress CBCC has already made in its integrated solid waste management design that emphasizes reduction, reuse, and recycling. That planning project provides recommendations for the placement and removal of new and existing dumpsters. CBCC will also work with the Virgin Islands Waste Management Authority to improve waste management practices and make recycling more efficient and convenient.

In addition to derelict vessel removal, this project involves volunteers in the removal of small and medium-sized debris, expands a marine debris reporting and reduction program, and conducts education activities focused on tourists, boaters, and shoreline restaurants to reduce land-based debris.

Read more about this project on the NOAA MDP Website: Coral Bay Community Council Removes Derelict Vessels in USVI

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Abandoned and Derelict Vessels Challenge States

By Dianna Parker

Abandoned and derelict vessels (ADVs) are a major problem for states where boating is a part of life. With increasing frequency, boats of all sizes are becoming abandoned and derelict, and they have a negative impact on recreational boating and fishing, leisure activities, and the environment.

Removing an ADV from the water isn’t as simple as, say, towing a broken-down car. The vessel can contain hazardous materials that must be taken out first by trained personnel and are often found either in shallow, difficult to reach areas, or in deep waters in a decrepit state. This requires large specialized equipment (i.e. barges and cranes) to lift, transport, and remove the ADV. Vessel registration laws vary state-to-state, and in some cases, agencies may not even know the ADV’s owner. Removal is an expensive and complicated process, and often no one entity has the ability to do it alone.

That’s why last week, 52 representatives from 15 states, four federal agencies, and Canada gathered at NOAA’s Gulf of Mexico Disaster Response Center for a workshop on ADVs. The goal was to share information on the best ways to deal with ADVs so that stakeholders could implement ideas back home. The workshop participants brought a wealth of experience, traded success stories and challenges, and made valuable connections.

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Despite the challenges, there’s a lot of work going on across the regions to address this problem. The NOAA Marine Debris Program supports a number of ADV removal projects in U.S. states and territories, including Coral Bay in the U.S. Virgin Islands, Charleston Harbor in South Carolina, and Palm Beach County shorelines in Florida. Some groups are just getting started, but others have claimed victory with removals in Dog River in Alabama, Fordson Island in Michigan, and San Diego Bay in California. And of course, there’s significant work going on in Northeastern states to remove ADVs that were lost as a result of Sandy.

Those are just a few of the many, many projects and ADV programs across the country. This week, we’ll share a few more highlights – including an incredible story out of the Dog River project, where the project leads blew all expectations away. Stay tuned.

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A Little Earth Day Trash Talk

By: NOAA Marine Debris Program Staff

Let’s kick off this Earth Day celebration,  with some “Trash Talk”! The marine debris kind of course.

As a gift to our ocean planet, today we’re releasing our first video “What is the Great Pacific Garbage Patch?”  from our upcoming “Trash Talk” series with NOAA Ocean Today. Stay tuned to learn more about marine debris when we release the entire series World Ocean Day, June 8th, and throughout the month of June.

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Volunteer to Clear Marine Debris!

By: Asma Mahdi


The ocean makes up more than 70 percent of planet Earth. It provides more than half the world’s oxygen. And, it feeds our ever growing population. Our ocean planet gives so much to help us survive every day, and it’s time for us to return the favor. This week, volunteer to give back to the ocean and help stop one of the largest problems it faces today – marine debris.

It starts with us! National Volunteer Week kicked off yesterday, and throughout the week, thousands of volunteers will participate in acts of service across our nation. As ocean stewards, we have a responsibility to maintain a healthy ocean so it stays resilient to human impacts. So let’s do our part and help keep our ocean and Great Lakes free of debris by organizing a cleanup with your friends, families, and local community.

It’s as easy as this:

  1. Gather a team of people.
  2. Find a local neighborhood, park, stream, river, lake or beach that you’d like to clean.
  3. Grab a bucket and gloves to help collect trash – let’s make this cleanup zero-waste!
  4. Track your trash! Use the Marine Debris Tracker app to catalog what you’ve cleaned up.
  5. Dispose of the garbage in a public dumpster or in your trash can. Don’t forget to recycle the recyclables.


Now that you have tools, don’t stop there. The easy part about cleanups is that you can do this year-round. Start today for cleaner tomorrow and pass the message along: volunteer to keep our ocean debris-free!


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