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Watch the Winning PSA Videos from the Ohio Marine Debris Challenge

Thu, 2018-05-24 08:00
Watch the Winning PSA Videos from the Ohio Marine Debris Challenge  NOAA) krista.e.stegemann Thu, 05/24/2018 - 11:00

By: Sarah Lowe, Great Lakes Regional Coordinator for the NOAA Marine Debris Program

The NOAA Marine Debris Program is excited to announce the winners of the third annual Ohio Marine Debris Challenge! This contest is open every year to students in grades 9-12 who are enrolled in recognized public, private, and home schools in Ohio’s Lake Erie coastal communities. Students complete lessons and create a public service announcement to help raise awareness of marine debris. Winning teams were recognized last week at an awards ceremony at Cedar Point Amusement Park and were given recognition by members of congress, including Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur, Congressman Jim Renacci, Senator Rob Portman, and Senator Sherrod Brown. Check out this year's winners!

50 Cleanups and Counting: A Celebration of Community Dedication

Thu, 2018-05-17 08:00
50 Cleanups and Counting: A Celebration of Community Dedication Two people cleaning nets off a beach. krista.e.stegemann Thu, 05/17/2018 - 11:00

By: Nir Barnea, Pacific Northwest Regional Coordinator for the NOAA Marine Debris Program

On April 21, 2018, Earth Day was celebrated with beach cleanups in many places, but for the Grassroots Garbage Gang in Washington State’s Long Beach Peninsula, it was an especially important day— a celebration of the 50th Grassroots Garbage Gang community-organized beach cleanup, representing a remarkable achievement. Beach cleanups on the Long Beach Peninsula began in 1971, when the Pacific Northwest Four Wheel Drive Association, along with support by state agencies and local organizations, started their Shore Patrol and marine debris removal. Around the year 2000, community volunteers formed the Grassroots Garbage Gang and joined the effort to clean up the beautiful Long Beach Peninsula beaches. Organizing three cleanups a year— in January, April (Earth Day), and July 5th– the dedicated volunteers of the Grassroots Garbage Gang have removed hundreds of tons of marine debris over the years. In addition, the group has reached out to the community and visitors with a strong message to prevent marine debris and help reduce it.

The First Ever Large-Scale Mangrove Cleanup in the U.S. Virgin Islands Nets Thousands of Pounds of Debris

Tue, 2018-05-15 08:00
The First Ever Large-Scale Mangrove Cleanup in the U.S. Virgin Islands Nets Thousands of Pounds of Debris Two guys in mangroves, leaning over a kayak with collected debris. krista.e.stegemann Tue, 05/15/2018 - 11:00

By: Kristin Wilson Grimes, Ph.D., Guest Blogger and Research Assistant Professor of Watershed Ecology at the University of the Virgin Islands; and Elisa Bryan-Lacatena, Guest Blogger and Communications Specialist at the Virgin Islands Established Program to Stimulate Competitive Research

On April 21, 2018, a group of 126 volunteers removed more than 3,000 pounds of marine debris in the “Great Mangrove Cleanup,” the first large-scale community cleanup in the St. Thomas East End Reserves (STEER), a marine protected area on the east end of St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands (USVI). These mangrove shorelines are difficult to get to, which makes them especially difficult to clean, and after the twin Category 5 Hurricanes Irma and Maria hit the territory last September, these coastlines are chock-full of marine debris. The vast majority of debris we gathered came from land-based sources (90-95% of items) and most of the items were plastic (65-70%). These patterns are consistent with those observed globally. The single item we collected the most of were plastic beverage bottles– 1,765 of them! For such a small area of coastline, that’s a lot, and it tells us that if we want to reduce marine debris in the USVI, we should be thinking about what we are drinking out of, where we are disposing of it, and where it might end up.

This Mother’s Day, Show Mother Earth Some Love

Fri, 2018-05-11 08:00
This Mother’s Day, Show Mother Earth Some Love Child's artwork of hands holding a heart with a healthy ocean inside. krista.e.stegemann Fri, 05/11/2018 - 11:00

Mother’s Day is almost here and is a great opportunity to celebrate one of the important mothers in all of our lives: Mother Earth. Take some time this weekend to celebrate all that Mother Earth has given us and show her some love. All mothers love a do-it-yourself or hand-made gift, so take some small actions to show her you care. Follow the 4Rs and refuse a straw in your drink when you go out for Mother’s Day brunch; reduce your use of single-use items by bringing your own bag to the grocery store when you’re shopping for ingredients to make mom breakfast in bed; treat your mom to a coffee in a reusable mug; and recycle (or better yet, upcycle or reuse!) the cardboard coupons your mom turns in for ‘one free hug.’

Are You Ready for Hurricane Season? Be Safe, Plan Ahead, and Secure Possible Debris Items!

Wed, 2018-05-09 08:00
Are You Ready for Hurricane Season? Be Safe, Plan Ahead, and Secure Possible Debris Items! A marine with damaged boats and debris in the water. krista.e.stegemann Wed, 05/09/2018 - 11:00

Although many are still recovering from last year’s hurricane season, it’s already time to start prepping for 2018’s potential storms. This week, NOAA is observing Hurricane Preparedness Week, to help people around the country prepare for any serious weather that might come through. If you live in an area potentially impacted by hurricanes, make sure to check out the National Weather Service’s website for lots of information on hurricane preparedness and how to keep you, your family, and your property safe. Unfortunately, strong winds, rains, and storm surge can not only be dangerous and damaging, but can also lead to a substantial increase in marine debris. When you’re prepping for an incoming storm, keep this in mind and take some simple steps to secure your belongings and decrease the risk of adding to storm-related marine debris.

5 Tools to Keep in Your Picnic Basket

Thu, 2018-04-26 09:00
5 Tools to Keep in Your Picnic Basket Overflowing trash cans. krista.e.stegemann Thu, 04/26/2018 - 12:00

Believe it or not (we certainly can’t), it’s already the end of April! With that has come Earth Day last weekend, National Picnic Day just earlier this week, and (hopefully) loads of nicer weather. So, as we march into May, let’s keep the lessons we’ve learned from these recent holidays in mind—enjoy the outdoors responsibly and care for our planet! How do we put that into practice? Well, here are some tools to keep in your picnic basket for the next time you’re enjoying the spring weather in the great outdoors.

Celebrate Earth Day by Joining a Cleanup!

Thu, 2018-04-19 08:00
Celebrate Earth Day by Joining a Cleanup! A volunteer holding a bag of collected debris walking in the water on a beach. krista.e.stegemann Thu, 04/19/2018 - 11:00

Earth Day is right around the corner! This year, it falls on this coming Sunday, April 22nd. Celebrate by taking the opportunity to join in the fight against marine debris and prevent trash from entering our ocean, waterways, and Great Lakes. There are lots of cleanup events happening on and around Earth Day; make sure you’re prepared by knowing what cleanups are happening in your area. We’ve put together a list of cleanups happening throughout the country to get you started. Don’t see a cleanup close to you? Start one yourself! Gather some friends, clean up your local community (please remember, safety first), and use the Marine Debris Tracker App to record what you find!

Congratulations to Our 2018 Art Contest Winners!

Wed, 2018-04-18 09:30
Congratulations to Our 2018 Art Contest Winners! krista.e.stegemann Wed, 04/18/2018 - 12:30

It’s that time of year—time to announce the winners of the NOAA Marine Debris Program Annual Art Contest! We had hundreds of impressive entries this year and although we wish we could showcase them all, we are excited to share this year’s winners with you. The NOAA Marine Debris Program holds this annual art contest to reach K-8 students and help raise awareness about marine debris, one of the most significant problems our ocean faces today. The resulting calendar, featuring the winning artwork, will help to remind us every day how important it is for us to be responsible stewards of the ocean. This year’s winners will be featured in our 2019 calendar, available later this year.

April Showers Bring Both Flowers and Debris

Tue, 2018-04-10 08:00
April Showers Bring Both Flowers and Debris A plastic bag stuck in a flowering tree. krista.e.stegemann Tue, 04/10/2018 - 11:00

Spring has officially begun and while most of us are looking forward to April’s showers bringing those promised May flowers, we often forget that this melty and rainy spring weather often brings something much less pleasant as well— marine debris. With rains and melting snow and ice, trash that has found its way to our streets, storm drains, shorelines, etc. is flushed out into our ocean, Great Lakes, and waterways. In some areas, some of this trash may have been trapped within the snow for months before being swept away with melting runoff.

Abandoned and Derelict Vessels

Fri, 2018-03-30 08:00
Abandoned and Derelict Vessels A vessel tilted to its side and flooded. krista.e.stegemann Fri, 03/30/2018 - 11:00

By: Amanda Laverty, Communications Specialist for the NOAA Marine Debris Program

We’re spending March talking all about marine debris and its types, sources, impacts, and solutions. Tune in throughout the month to learn more about this important topic and how we can all be part of the effort to make our lives and our ocean #DebrisFree.

Though the legal definition of an “Abandoned and Derelict Vessel” varies, an “ADV” is generally considered to be any vessel in significant disrepair that may pose a threat to the public or the environment. “Derelict” frequently refers to vessels that are dilapidated with an identifiable owner, while “abandoned” vessels are those where the owner is unknown or has surrendered rights of ownership. Vessels can become abandoned and derelict for many reasons, ranging from neglect to theft, to catastrophic weather. 

Microplastics & Megafauna

Tue, 2018-03-27 08:00
Microplastics & Megafauna Microplastics on a beach. krista.e.stegemann Tue, 03/27/2018 - 11:00

By: Demi Fox, Northeast Regional Coordinator for the NOAA Marine Debris Program

We’re spending March talking all about marine debris and its types, sources, impacts, and solutions. Tune in throughout the month to learn more about this important topic and how we can all be part of the effort to make our lives and our ocean #DebrisFree.

Marine debris is a serious threat to marine animals. While large pieces of litter can have dramatic impacts on marine animals, less obvious are the dangers of plastics measuring less than five millimeters in size, known as “microplastics.” These small pieces of debris have quickly become a high research priority for scientists around the world. Microplastics enter the marine environment from a variety of sources: microbeads in cosmetics, microfibers washed from our clothing, and plastic fragments degraded by the sun, among many others. The threats they pose depend on their quantity, chemical composition, location in the ocean and the water column, and availability for ingestion. Despite its small size, microplastic debris is affecting some of the planet’s largest animals.

Garbage Patches Explained

Wed, 2018-03-21 08:00
Garbage Patches Explained Graphic image of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch in a gyre. krista.e.stegemann Wed, 03/21/2018 - 11:00

By: Amanda Laverty, Communications Specialist with the NOAA Marine Debris Program

We’re spending March talking all about marine debris and its types, sources, impacts, and solutions. Tune in throughout the month to learn more about this important topic and how we can all be part of the effort to make our lives and our ocean #DebrisFree.

Garbage patches are areas of increased concentration of marine debris that are formed from rotating ocean currents called gyres. The most publicized garbage patch is the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, located in the North Pacific Subtropical Gyre in the northern Pacific Ocean. However, there are actually several garbage patches located in gyres around the world! Check out answers to other frequently asked garbage patch questions.

Less Waste, More Action

Thu, 2018-03-15 08:00
Less Waste, More Action A person sipping from a reusable coffee mug. krista.e.stegemann Thu, 03/15/2018 - 11:00

By: Amanda Laverty, Communications Specialist with the NOAA Marine Debris Program

We’re spending March talking all about marine debris and its types, sources, impacts, and solutions. Tune in throughout the month to learn more about this important topic and how we can all be part of the effort to make our lives and our ocean #DebrisFree.

Here at the NOAA Marine Debris Program, we are striving to reduce the amount of waste we produce annually. The EPA estimates that on average, Americans generate 4.40 pounds of waste per person per day. Now that is a lot of trash! Unfortunately, much of that trash becomes marine debris. The good news is that because we are the problem, we can be the solution too! In fact, 700+ leading marine debris experts from around the world are meeting this week in San Diego, CA, at the Sixth International Marine Debris Conference to discuss the state of marine debris science and the path forward. The purpose of this event is to expose innovation, expand collaboration, and fuel action— and to do it while producing as little waste as possible.

Monitoring Marine Debris

Thu, 2018-03-08 08:00
Monitoring Marine Debris Two people monitoring a beach and adding debris information to a clipboard. krista.e.stegemann Thu, 03/08/2018 - 11:00

We’re spending March talking all about marine debris and its types, sources, impacts, and solutions. Tune in throughout the month to learn more about this important topic and how we can all be part of the effort to make our lives and our ocean #DebrisFree.

How big is the marine debris problem? How has it changed over time? What types of debris are most common in my region? These are all important questions to ask when tackling the marine debris issue and to get the answers, we turn to marine debris monitoring.

Marine Debris & Invasive Species

Thu, 2018-03-01 08:00
Marine Debris & Invasive Species Image of Wakame kelp. krista.e.stegemann Thu, 03/01/2018 - 11:00

We’re spending March talking all about marine debris and its types, sources, impacts, and solutions. Tune in throughout the month to learn more about this important topic and how we can all be part of the effort to make our lives and our ocean #DebrisFree.

Marine debris can have many negative effects on us and our environment. One potential impact of debris which is often overlooked is marine debris’ potential to assist in the spread of non-native, and potentially invasive, species. Non-native species, or animals that are not from a certain area or meant to be there, have the potential to become harmful and invasive. If that happens, these invasive animals can start using the local resources in an unsustainable way, or in a way that may negatively impact those animals that do belong.

On Valentine’s Day, Show Our Ocean Some Love

Wed, 2018-02-14 08:00
On Valentine’s Day, Show Our Ocean Some Love krista.e.stegemann Wed, 02/14/2018 - 11:00

It’s Valentine’s Day, so take some time today to show our ocean some love. We get a lot from the ocean—food, travel, even clean air to breathe— so return the love by thinking about how you can help protect it from marine debris. Consider how you might contribute to the marine debris problem and think about changes you could make to help. Do you bring reusable bags to the grocery store? Do you drink out of a reusable bottle at work? Do you follow your municipality’s recycling regulations for items you can’t reuse? Following the 4R’s (reduce, reuse, recycle, refuse!) whenever you can makes a big difference for our ocean.

Campaign for a “Litter-Free Mardi Gras”

Thu, 2018-02-08 08:00
Campaign for a “Litter-Free Mardi Gras” krista.e.stegemann Thu, 02/08/2018 - 11:00

By: Caitlin Wessel, Gulf of Mexico Regional Coordinator for the NOAA Marine Debris Program

Mardi Gras is a fun occasion for many cities across the South, from New Orleans to Alabama. Bead necklaces and other items like moon pies, cups, and cheap toys are a Mardi Gras staple and are thrown to excited crowds lining the streets during parades that begin six weeks before Fat Tuesday. Unfortunately, many of these items are abandoned on the street and can easily wash down street drains and end up in streams, rivers, and eventually the Gulf of Mexico. Learn how our partners are working to reduce the environmental impacts of Mardi Gras while keeping the Mardi Gras spirit alive and well!

Microplastic Pollution: A complex mixture of diverse polymers, shapes and sizes

Thu, 2018-01-25 08:00
Microplastic Pollution: A complex mixture of diverse polymers, shapes and sizes Microplastics on a beach. krista.e.stegemann Thu, 01/25/2018 - 11:00

By: Chelsea M. Rochman, Guest Blogger and Assistant Professor in the Dept. of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of Toronto

The microplastics literature is growing at a tremendous rate. Every day, new studies are published about their sources, fate, and effects. There is no longer any doubt that microplastics of all shapes, sizes, and types contaminate diverse ocean habitats and animals. We also understand much more about the effects of microplastics on organisms than we did just a few years ago. Still, there are research gaps to fill. As part of a project funded by the NOAA Marine Debris Program, we set out to answer questions related to these research gaps. We examined whether environmentally-relevant concentrations of different types of microplastics directly affect freshwater prey and indirectly affect their predators. Check out the results which were just published.

Clean Up Your Community for Martin Luther King, Jr. Service Day!

Fri, 2018-01-12 08:00
Clean Up Your Community for Martin Luther King, Jr. Service Day! Three boys holding equipment for a cleanup. krista.e.stegemann Fri, 01/12/2018 - 11:00

Monday is Martin Luther King, Jr. Day and let’s remember that it’s not just a day off from work and school, but a day to think about what it means for our country. To commemorate a great man who spent his life serving others, this day has become a time to come together to give back to our communities and volunteer our time to a good cause. If you’d like to participate in MLK Day of Service, consider joining a cleanup in your area. Cleaning up your local shoreline or even just your neighborhood can help prevent trash from becoming marine debris and can help to create a healthy ocean that we can all enjoy.

New Year, New Goals, Less Waste

Mon, 2018-01-08 08:00
New Year, New Goals, Less Waste Someone pulling a glass jar of food from a reusable bag with groceries on the counter. krista.e.stegemann Mon, 01/08/2018 - 11:00

By: Amanda Laverty, Sea Grant Knauss Fellow for the NOAA Marine Debris Program

Happy New Year! Did you make any goals or resolutions for the upcoming year? Here at the Marine Debris Program, we are striving to reduce the amount of waste we produce annually. The EPA estimates that, on average, Americans generate 4.40 pounds of waste per person per day. Now that is a lot of trash and unfortunately, much of it becomes marine debris. The good news is that because we are the problem, we can be the solution too! By committing ourselves to one or more of the goals below, we can help move in the direction of a cleaner and healthier world. If we strive to reduce our individual impacts, we can make a huge difference together! Here are a few simple ways to get started.

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