NOAA's Marine Debris Blog

Keepin' the Sea Free of Debris!


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It’s St. Patrick’s Day, So Keep Our Ocean Clean and Go Green!

Today is Saint Patrick’s Day and let the sea of green that comes with this holiday remind you to “go green” today and every day! There are lots of ways we can all make our lives a little greener. How could you make your life more environmentally-friendly? Here are some ideas to get you started:

Remember your 3R’s. One of the easiest ways to “go green” is to follow the 3R’s every day and reduce, reuse, and recycle whenever possible!

Spread the word. Let others know about issues like marine debris and how they can help. A lot of people are unaware of these issues and how their actions can affect our environment. Get your friends and family in on the action and go green together!

Join a cleanup. If you’d like to take a more active role, join a cleanup in your area! Our monthly e-newsletter lists cleanup events around the country each month. Can’t find one near you that works with your schedule? Start one yourself! Gather some friends and pick up debris in your neighborhood or at a nearby stream, river, or shoreline (please remember, safety first!).

Skip the garbage can during spring cleaning. Spring is starting to show itself and with that often comes spring cleaning. Skip the “out with the old, in with the new” mindset and reuse some of those old items rather than tossing them. Donate those old clothes when you’re cleaning out your closet, reuse them as rags, or even convert them into something new!

Keep these in mind as you work to keep our ocean clean and go green for St. Patrick’s Day!

Happy St. Patrick’s Day from the NOAA Marine Debris Program

A child's drawing of a sea turtle versus a sea turtle filled with marine debris.

Keep our ocean clean and go green! (2013 Art Contest Winner: Aleena F., Grade 5, Texas)


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Spring Break Means Warming Weather and Marine Debris

Believe it or not, but flowers are already poking their heads out and it’s about time for spring break for students around the country. Whether you’re spending your break in an exotic location or staying local, there are lots of opportunities to spend this time giving back while still having fun.

A great way to both enjoy some outside time and do some good for your environment is to join a shoreline cleanup! There are lots of cleanups happening around the country and across the world, so find one in your area and help pick up some marine debris. No scheduled cleanup near you? Start one yourself by organizing a group of people to clean up your nearby shoreline or street (just remember, safety first!).

If staying indoors is more your thing, you can still help fight marine debris! The ultimate solution to this problem is prevention, so spread the word to your family and friends. Feeling crafty? Make some signs to let people know how they can help. Or, take some of those old items you’ve been meaning to throw away and repurpose them into something useful.

Spring break already packed? No worries, there are still lots of ways you can help in the fight against marine debris without taking up a lot of time. One of the best ways to fight marine debris daily is by making sure to follow the 3Rs—reduce, reuse, recycle! Even though it might not seem like much, if we all put forth just a little effort, together we can make a big difference!

A flowering tree with a plastic bag caught in the branches.

It’s getting warmer out and you’re probably seeing flowers blooming, birds chirping, and… debris. Unfortunately, trash like this bag can easily find its way into our waters, becoming marine debris. Spend your spring break addressing this problem! (Photo Credit: NOAA)


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Marine Debris in the Pacific Islands

Picture of Mark Manuel.Meet Mark Manuel, the NOAA Marine Debris Program’s (MDP’s) Pacific Islands Regional Coordinator! Mark is a Hawaii native, and received his B.S. in Marine Science and M.S. in Tropical Conservation Biology and Environmental Science from the University of Hawai‘i at Hilo. Before joining the MDP, Mark spent six years with the NOAA Pacific Islands Fisheries Science Center, Coral Reef Ecosystem Program. He now works in Honolulu, where he oversees marine debris removal and research projects, the Hawai‘i Nets-to-Energy program, and the NOAA Observer Program at-sea marine debris encounter reports. Mark also works with the Consulate of Japan to confirm tsunami marine debris, is part of numerous emergency response networks, and communicates with the U.S. Coast Guard and state agencies to address Abandoned and Derelict Vessels. Reach out to Mark at mark.manuel@noaa.gov!

Picture of Grace Chon.Meet Grace Chon, the NOAA Marine Debris Program’s Pacific Islands Assistant Regional Coordinator! Grace was born and raised in Maryland and received her B.S. in Biology at the University of Maryland, College Park. After graduating and living in Venezuela for a year, she headed to Hawai’i Pacific University, where she earned her M.S. in Marine Science. As the Assistant Regional Coordinator, Grace now works in Honolulu, Hawaii, where she focuses on marine debris prevention projects, Hawai’i Marine Debris Action Plan activities, regional outreach efforts, and coordination in the territories. Reach out to Grace at grace.chon@noaa.gov!

 

The Pacific Islands are full of sun, sand, and unfortunately… marine debris. Like many other coastal areas, the Pacific Islands are not immune to the impacts of marine debris. Due to the Pacific Islands’ position in the Pacific Ocean and in relation to the North Pacific Gyre and ocean currents, they are often inundated with debris from both local and far-off sources. Luckily, there are many great efforts underway to address and prevent marine debris in this area. Check out a couple newly-established projects funded by the NOAA Marine Debris Program:

Preventing marine debris is the ultimate solution to the problem, so Pacific Whale Foundation (PWF) is working to do just that! They’ve launched a public awareness campaign focused on tobacco-free beaches in Maui, Hawaii. To get the word out, they’re creating public service announcements, developing handouts and outreach materials, and giving presentations. PWF is also hosting an art contest to promote marine debris outreach and education. For more on this project, check out the project profile on our website.

Unfortunately, there’s enough marine debris out there that we also must work on removing it. To help clean our shores, Hawai‘i Wildlife Fund is leading an effort to remove as much debris as possible from over 200 miles of coastline on four different islands in Hawaii! Engaging hundreds of volunteers, they aim to remove approximately 55 metric tons (about 120,000 pounds) of marine debris! For more on this project, check out the project profile on our website.

A group of people on a beach.

Volunteers at Kamilo Point participated in the International Coastal Cleanup event in Sept 2016 and helped to remove 1.71 metric tons (3,765 pounds) of marine debris from a 1km stretch of coastline on Hawai‘i Island. (Photo Credit: Dr. Drew Kapp, HWF)

There are lots of cool things going on in the Pacific Islands! Keep your eye on our blog this week for more, and check out our website for more interesting marine debris projects in the Pacific Islands and throughout the country!


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There’s a New Art Contest in Maui, So Do Your Part and Make Some Art!

Through a project supported by a NOAA Marine Debris Program Prevention through Education and Outreach grant, the Pacific Whale Foundation is launching a Tidal Trash Treasures Art Contest in Maui, Hawaii! Applicants must create artwork made from marine debris that they collected during a cleanup and must reflect the theme “healthy oceans, healthy marine life.”

For more information on this exciting competition, please see the flyer below. Entries are due Friday, February 17th with an entry “fee” of 25 littered cigarette butts removed from a beach, park, or public area.

Tidal Trash Treasures Art Contest Flyer.

Tidal Trash Treasures Art Contest Flyer. (Credit: Pacific Whale Foundation)


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Tackling Marine Debris in the Gulf of Mexico

Photo of Caitlin Wessel.Meet Caitlin Wessel, the NOAA Marine Debris Program’s Gulf of Mexico Regional Coordinator! Caitlin has a broad background in both education and research, with a B.S. from the University of Pittsburgh and a M.S. from Coastal Carolina University in Coastal, Marine, and Wetland Studies. In her downtime, Caitlin can be found working towards her PhD in Marine Science from the University of South Alabama and the Dauphin Island Sea Lab, scuba diving, kayaking, or hiking with her puppies. For questions about the NOAA Marine Debris Program’s Gulf of Mexico efforts, reach out to Caitlin at caitlin.wessel@noaa.gov!

Marine debris is an issue throughout the country and unfortunately, the Gulf of Mexico is no different. To address this problem, we first must work to prevent trash from becoming marine debris and we do this through education and outreach. Unfortunately, there’s enough debris out there that we must also work to remove it. Check out some of the efforts currently underway to prevent and remove debris in the Gulf:

Sea Turtle, Inc. is working to prevent marine debris by developing bilingual signage on South Padre Island, Texas. They’re also developing a display and educational programs for students to learn about marine debris, its impacts on wildlife (like sea turtles), and the ways we can help prevent it. For more on this project, check out the project profile on our website.

Graphic of a sea turtle taking a bite of a bottle and a photo of a bottle with turtle bites taken out.

This project is focusing on educating the Lower Laguna Madre community about the impacts of debris on marine life, such as the ingestion of debris. In the photo on the right, you can clearly see sea turtle bites taken out of a plastic bottle. (Photo Credit: NOAA (left) and Sea Turtle, Inc. (right))

Ship Island Excursions is also working to prevent marine debris in the Gulf by educating students and community members in Southern Mississippi. As part of this project, they are providing marine debris education to coastal Mississippi students and providing outreach to passengers aboard the Ship Island Ferry through an interactive kiosk, signage, and marine educators and student ambassadors. For more on this project, check out the project profile on our website.

A group of students on a pier.

Ship Island Excursions is educating students, teachers, and community members in coastal Mississippi. (Photo Credit: Ship Island Excursions)

To address the debris that’s already in our waters and on our shores, the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources is monitoring and removing derelict crab traps in Southern Alabama. They are leading three volunteer removal programs to remove and dispose of derelict crab traps, identifying and counting the animals that have been inadvertently caught by the traps, and monitoring the area to assess the removal efforts. For more information on this project, check out the project profile on our website.

Also working to remove marine debris from the Gulf of Mexico is the Galveston Bay Foundation. They are working to improve habitat and access to Galveston Bay by removing large debris items such as abandoned and derelict vessels from Chocolate Bayou, Texas. For more on this project, check out the project profile on our website.

Derelict vessels partially submerged in water.

The Galveston Bay Foundation is working to remove large debris items from Galveston Bay, Texas. (Photo Credit: Galveston Bay Foundation)

There are lots of cool things going on in the Gulf of Mexico! Keep your eye on our blog this week for more, and check out our website for more interesting marine debris projects in the Gulf and throughout the country!


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Don’t Get the Winter Blues—Get the Winter Can-Do’s Instead!

It may be cold and grey outside, but don’t let it get you down! Just because it’s winter doesn’t mean our efforts to reduce the impacts of marine debris need to dwindle. There are still lots of ways we can make a difference in the fight against marine debris, even when the winter has slowed things down.

A cleanup crew moving debris into a boat with snowy mountain in the background.

A cleanup crew picks up debris in Alaska. (Photo Credit: NOAA)

Reduce, reuse, recycle. Don’t forget your 3R’s, which make a difference at any time of year! Reduce the amount of single-use materials that you use. Reuse items when you can. And for the items that you do use, don’t forget to recycle whenever possible (check out this blog on recycling to make sure you’re doing it right!).

Spread the word! It doesn’t have to be warm outside to spread the word to friends and family. Preventing marine debris is the key to solving the problem and we can do that through education and outreach. Many people simply don’t understand the issue or don’t know how they can help, so get the word out there! If you’re still in school or involved in teaching, consider incorporating one of our activities or lessons into your classroom. Use the activities demonstrated in our Trash Talk Webinar to discuss marine debris in your boy/girl scout troop. Watch our Trash Talk videos and talk about marine debris with your family. No matter how seemingly small, you can make a big difference.

You can still get involved in cleanup events! There may be fewer cleanups at this time of year due to the cold weather in a lot of areas, but there are still opportunities to clean up! Find one in your area or organize one yourself (remember safety first!) and use the Marine Debris Tracker App! If you haven’t already, subscribe to our monthly e-newsletter, which lists cleanups around the country.

Don’t get the winter blues—get the winter can-do’s and continue the fight against marine debris!


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Marine Debris Efforts Around the Country

We’ve spent the last year highlighting marine debris projects in various regions of the country. However, the NOAA Marine Debris Program also supports efforts that are national in scope. Check out some of the national projects that are currently underway:

The BoatU.S. Foundation is working to remove debris in both the Mid-Atlantic and Great Lakes regions. With support from a NOAA Marine Debris Program Community-based Marine Debris Removal Grant, they are working with two TowBoatU.S. towing and salvage partners to remove two large nets in Ocean City, Maryland, and to remove a derelict vessel in Lake Erie. They’re also assessing the impacts of some of this debris, as well as monitoring the effects of the removal. For more on this project, check out the project profile on our website.

Pictures of derelict nets on a boat.

The BoatU.S. Foundation removed two derelict nets from Ocean City, MD as part of their project. (Photo Credit: Rick Younger)

The BoatU.S. Foundation is also working on preventing marine debris through a project supported by the Fishing for Energy program. Fishing for Energy is a partnership between the NOAA Marine Debris Program, Covanta, and Schnitzer Steel Industries, and administered by the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation. With this support, the BoatU.S. Foundation is working to prevent derelict fishing gear by developing a national education and outreach program to teach recreational boaters how to avoid set fishing gear. For more on this project, check out the project profile on our website.

A close-up of derelict nets and ropes.

The BoatU.S. Foundation’s project through the Fishing for Energy program is working to prevent derelict fishing gear. (Photo Credit: NOAA)

Another Fishing for Energy-supported project is being run by the National Sea Grant Law Center at the University of Mississippi. This project is working to assess innovative methods for addressing derelict fishing gear from around the country, to determine if these methods could be implemented in other areas. They’re also working to identify opportunities to prevent gear loss due to interactions with passing vessels. For more on this project, check out the project profile on our website.

A close-up of derelict crab pots.

The Fishing for Energy project with the National Sea Grant Law Center is working to assess derelict fishing gear programs. (Photo Credit: G. Bradt, NH Sea Grant)

Keep your eye on our blog as we continue to highlight marine debris projects from around the country throughout the year!