NOAA's Marine Debris Blog

Keepin' the Sea Free of Debris!


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New Laboratory Methods: How to Analyze Microplastics in the Marine Environment

By: NOAA Marine Debris Program Staff

noaa_microplastics_methods_manual (1)Plastics are often the main type of debris found in oceans, rivers, lakes as well as on surrounding riverbanks and shorelines and those plastics however big or small can enter the environment from a multitude of sources. These plastics can eventually degrade into smaller and smaller pieces and with that in mind the NOAA Marine Debris Program releases the Laboratory Methods for the Analysis of Microplastics in the Marine Environment: Recommendations for quantifying synthetic particles in waters and sediments.

This methods manual outlines step-by-step instructions on how to quantify microplastics in marine environmental samples, and how to streamline terminology and approaches. Depending on each study’s aim and the environmental collection techniques, these methods can be used to calculate concentrations of microplastics.

Please follow this link to download a copy of the Microplastics Methods Manual: http://marinedebris.noaa.gov/reports-and-technical-memos


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Declare Independence from Debris this Fourth of July!

By: Asma Mahdi

Photo credit: Anita Ritenour/ Flickr

Fourth of July fireworks from Pismo Beach, California.

The Fourth of July is just around the corner and that means it’s time to celebrate! As we think about Independence Day, let’s also think about how we can give our ocean independence from marine debris!

When you plan your festivities this year, take some of these tips into consideration:

Have a fun, safe, and clean Fourth of July!


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Mid-Atlantic Region: Marine Debris Prevention

By: Leah Henry

Alice Ferguson Foundation (AFF) helps youth and teenagers, a typically high-risk littering audience, understand the marine debris problem and their impact on it, so they are less likely to litter and more inclined to dispose of trash properly. AFF educates students and empowers them to become environmental stewards and urges everyone to ‘Take control. Take care of your trash’. To find out more about this project visit our website.

Virginia Coastal Zone Management Program Department of Environmental Quality addresses a specific entanglement and ingestion issue by investigating balloon debris and the underlying motivations for balloon releases. By studying the behavior behind balloon releases and designing a social marketing campaign to encourage more environmentally sensitive alternatives, they hope to prevent potential harm from balloon-debris to wildlife and the environment. To learn more about this project visit our website.


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Mid-Atlantic Region: Marine Debris Research

By: Leah Henry

The NOAA Marine Debris Program has been working to better understand the impacts of derelict fishing gear and other types of marine debris to our ocean and Great Lakes, here are a few of our Mid-Atlantic marine debris research efforts:

Smithsonian Environmental Research Center evaluates existing crab pot bycatch reduction technology, solicits technology feedback from local watermen, and creates a Chesapeake Bay-wide conversation to develop ghost pot solutions as part of a grant from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation’s Fishing for Energy program and with funding from the NOAA Marine Debris Program.  To learn more about this project visit our website.

Virginia Institute of Marine Science employs commercial watermen to compare catch rates of peeler pots outfitted with biodegradable escape panels to those with standard panels as part of a grant from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation’s Fishing for Energy program and with funding from the NOAA Marine Debris Program. Preliminary results suggest no adverse effect of biodegradable panels on peeler pot crab catch. To learn more about this project visit our website.

Global Science & Technology Inc. contracts with the NOAA Marine Debris Program in partnership with Versar, Virginia Institute of Marine Science, and CSS-Dynamac to investigate the physical, biological, and socio-economic impacts of derelict fishing gear (DFG) in the Chesapeake Bay through a Regional Impact Assessment.  This project will develop an operational model, conduct a bay-wide impact assessment of derelict fishing gear, and create a framework guidance document for use in other regions. To learn more about this project visit our website.


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Southeast Region: Marine Debris Prevention

By: Leah Henry

These southeast marine debris prevention projects take on debris of all sizes, educate diverse audiences, and hope to stop debris at its source.

Project SORT – University of Georgia Marine Extension Service (UGA MAREX)

Project SORT hosted a rigorous four-day marine debris workshop filled with presentations and activities that the 20 participating educators can share with their classrooms. This project also provided 350 students with a unique, hands-on experience to learn about local environmental issues by participating in UGA MAREX-guided marine debris cleanups. Three clear column displays, filled with marine debris collected by those students, were also created and are now on display at the UGA Marine Education Center and Aquarium on Skidaway Island, the Georgia Sea Turtle Center on Jekyll Island, and the Tybee Island Marine Science Center to educate the public about local marine debris issues and prevention.

To learn more about this marine debris prevention project visit our website.

Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC)

FWC organizes marine debris cleanups, derelict trap removals, and has participated in 13 outreach and education events to-date. They will continue to provide derelict lobster and stone crab gear education materials for the public throughout 2015 and the suite of lobster biology and fishery history materials that FWC developed will be available on the Fish and Wildlife Research Institute’s website and shared widely through social media.

To learn more about this marine debris prevention project visit our website.


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Southeast Region: Marine Debris Removal

By: Leah Henry

We have been working on several marine debris projects to remove debris and better understand some of the effects it has on our coastal systems. Here are a few recent projects from the southeast region:

North Carolina Coastal Federation removes derelict crab pots and re-purposes them to create oyster habitat and revitalize an economically essential fishery.

Checkout NCCF’s crab pot removal project video

LagoonKeepers.org improves the quality of Palm Beach County’s estuarine, coastal, and near-shore marine ecosystems through derelict and sunken boat removal.

South Carolina Sea Grant Consortium removes derelict vessels and other marine debris using community-based collaboration.

To learn more about NOAA Marine Debris Program removal projects visit our website.


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Southeast Region: Marine Debris Research

By: Leah Henry

The South Carolina Department of Natural Resources tests the effectiveness of different float configurations to reduce or prevent derelict crab traps. Recovered crab traps will be used to create oyster reef habitat that will promote new reef development.

To learn more about this marine debris research project visit our website.

This project is part of a Fishing for Energy gear innovation grant, administered by the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation and funded by the NOAA Marine Debris Program.

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