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Nike Marsh Cleanup in Lido Beach, NY Inspires Volunteers

By: Dr. Jason Williams, Guest Blogger

Dr. Williams is a professor at Hofstra University and leads cleanup efforts as part of a Community-based Marine Debris Removal grant from the NOAA Marine Debris Program.

This past fall, Hofstra University, Long Beach School District, and Long Island Volunteer Center (LIVC) organized a fall clean-up of the Nike Marsh in Lido Beach, New York. The Nike Alternative High School is located on the property, which is the former home of the United States Army Nike Missile Battery NY-29/30.


Volunteers remove marine debris from Lido Beach, NY.


Nearly 50 volunteers assisted during the event, including members from Capital One and Zurich North America. It was a beautiful fall day to be on the marsh, and in total the volunteers removed 5.71 tons of debris! The debris included two overflowing 20-yard dumpsters of large timbers, tires, foam and other materials. In addition, some of the volunteers worked on removing smaller items and trash, like bottles and plastics, which had accumulated on the marsh. Donated funds from LIVC were used to buy supplies for the volunteers that assisted in the clean-up (boots, gloves, wheelbarrows and other equipment).

Some of the volunteers expressed their thoughts about the day:

“Very inspiring work.  Don’t realize how much needs to be done with the aftermath of Sandy.”

“When are you doing this again?  Would love to come back.  Happy to help. Maybe these students will want to be marine biologists one day.”

“Very rewarding to help an alternative school and pave the way for students to learn more about the environment and decide who they want to be because many people don’t understand what the Nike School is all about.  This school helps them explore who they are as people.” 

Hofstra University plans to schedule additional cleanups through spring of 2015.

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NYC Marine Science Festival: SUBMERGE!

By: Keith Cialino

On October 5, I represented the NOAA Marine Debris Program at Submerge!: NYC Marine Science Festival, hosted by the Hudson River Park Trust and New York Hall of Science. The event took place on Pier 26 in Manhattan, a beautiful location on the Hudson River with stunning views of the NYC skyline, including the new One World Trade Center skyscraper. More than 4,500 people came to the event to enjoy interactive marine science booths, free kayaking on the Hudson, informative talks, and tasty food. Even the live music was marine-themed and solar powered! One really neat thing about the event was the level of crowd engagement. Almost every table had a fun, educational, hands-on activity for kids and adults alike, and it seemed like visitors spent a lot of time at each booth.

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At the event, I gave a talk about small changes New Yorkers can make to prevent marine debris– things like drinking New York City’s great tap water instead of buying bottled water, checking their toiletries for microbeads, and not releasing balloons  into the environment.

NYC tap water instead of bottled water –
Check toiletries for microbeads –
Don’t release balloons –

I also had a table with the NOAA Marine Debris Program’s interactive wheel of knowledge. It was a lot of fun talking with attendees about marine debris and hearing their answers to the marine debris questions from the wheel. The kids had creative answers to my “Name the 3 R’s” prompt. I heard great responses like respect, renew, and recharge, but we were able to get to Reduce, Reuse, Recycle by the time they walked away. One very young visitor to my booth told me, “I can’t even read yet!”, but, with me reading the question, he did know that we should not put our trash in the ocean. 100 people left our booth with the 2015 marine debris calendar, and many more left with new knowledge of marine debris in the NYC area.

More event photos: Flickr Account (Photos Credit: David Handschuh)

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Marine Debris in New York City’s Backyard

By: Lisa Scheppke, Guest Blogger

When people think about New York City, a rich and diverse wildlife habitat is not usually what comes to mind. However, NYC is home to Jamaica Bay, a unique intact estuarine ecosystem consisting of 25,000 acres of salt marshes, intertidal flats and upland forests. 330 species of birds, 70 species of butterflies and over 100 species of finfish, breed, spend the winter in, or use the area as a vital migratory stopover. Situated in both Brooklyn and Queens, Jamaica Bay has an abundance of shellfish and benthic fauna and is visited by the federally-listed endangered Kemp’s ridley sea turtle, the federally-listed threatened loggerhead turtle and the largest population of diamondback terrapins in the Northeast. Fishermen, boaters, birders, bicyclists and nature lovers come from across the five boroughs and beyond to enjoy this incredible natural resource.

Since the Industrial Revolution, the ecology of the bay has faced challenges from several factors, including dumping, over-development, pollution and a lack of awareness of its rich resources. As a result, the bay’s valuable tidal salt marshes are declining at an alarming rate. In addition to the pre-existing marine debris issues in Jamaica Bay, Hurricane Sandy brought up to six feet of flooding throughout the surrounding communities, along with an overwhelming amount of large marine debris, including boats, docks, pilings and construction debris. Pollutants from derelict vessels were released into the water and marshes and essential aquatic habitats were damaged by large marine debris compacting sediments and smothering vegetation.

Public awareness is on the rise, however, and community groups and citizens have banded together to advocate for the protection and restoration of the bay. Educational outreach and an open dialogue with the community have been key components of our large marine debris removal project, Jamaica Bay Clean Sweep. With generous support from the NOAA Restoration Center and the NOAA Marine Debris Program, the American Littoral Society spearheaded the removal of 60 items of large marine debris in the Floyd Bennett Field area of Jamaica Bay over the last two years. Thirty-six metric tons were disposed of with the assistance of the Department of Sanitation and the National Park Service.

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Public engagement has been critical to the success of this project, with 840 dedicated volunteers contributing 4,658 hours of their time to remove 270 cubic yards of smaller debris from the shorelines of the bay. Community presentations and the distribution of informational brochures have enlightened the public about safe and legal disposal alternatives for unwanted boats.

The American Littoral Society is currently continuing its public engagement and restoration efforts by removing debris from the Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge with support from NOAA  in partnership with Restore America’s Estuaries.

Lisa Scheppke is the Habitat Restoration Project Coordinator for the American Littoral Society. Cathy Sohn, Director of External Affairs for the American Littoral Society, contributed.