Marine Debris Blog
Summer is in full swing and we should all find some time to enjoy it whether you’re off for the season, taking a well-deserved vacation, or simply taking full advantage of your weekends. Summer’s a great time to get outside and spend some time with friends and family, but let’s make sure we’re enjoying the great outdoors responsibly.
There are lots of ways to enjoy the summer season while still being kind to the earth. Remember to follow the “3Rs”—reduce, reuse, recycle—whenever possible and make responsible choices when you can. Enjoy the sun and warm weather and make sure you do it debris-free.
While the Northeast region of the U.S. is home to several large population centers that create large amounts of consumer debris, there is also a marine debris issue lurking beneath the ocean surface. Derelict fishing gear is a prevalent problem in most of the Northeast states.
Lost or discarded fishing gear that is no longer under a fisherman’s control becomes known as derelict fishing gear (DFG), and it can continue to trap and kill fish, crustaceans, marine mammals, sea turtles, and seabirds. Factors that cause gear to become DFG include poor weather conditions, gear conflicts with other vessels or bottom topography, or the use of old, worn gear.
Meet Keith Cialino, the NOAA Marine Debris Program’s Northeast Regional Coordinator, based in Gloucester, Massachusetts! Reach out to Keith at email@example.com!
The Northeast United States is a place to enjoy all nature has to offer—snow in the winter, flowers in the spring, both sandy and rugged coastlines for summer, and beautiful foliage in the fall. Unfortunately, while enjoying the great outdoors, you might run into something else that plagues this region: marine debris. Thankfully, there are several efforts underway to address marine debris in this region. Check out some newly-established projects that are working to remove and prevent debris in the Northeast.
It’s summer and that means a few things: warm weather, vacations, and… hurricane season. Hurricanes are among nature's most powerful and destructive phenomena. According to our partners at NOAA’s National Weather Service, an above average Atlantic Hurricane season is predicted for 2017, and a near- or above-normal season is predicted in the Central Pacific. While you’re making sure that you’re well-prepared, think about the potential for your things to become marine debris. Storms bring high winds and rain, strong waves, and storm surges that can damage or destroy homes, boats, and property; put you and your family at risk; and have the potential to create a lot of marine debris.
The Fourth of July is coming up next week and if you’re lucky, you’ll be celebrating for the long weekend. As you enjoy the holiday and the summer weather, make sure that you’re thinking not only of our country, but also of our environment and what you can do to keep your celebration debris-free. Take some of these tips into consideration when planning your festivities and have a fun, safe, and clean Fourth of July weekend!
By: Dr. Stefanie Whitmire, Guest Blogger and Research Scientist at the Baruch Institute of Coastal Ecology & Forest Science, Clemson University
Microplastics are plastic pieces measuring less than five millimeters in size and in recent decades, there have been many studies that indicate a strong presence of this type of debris in marine and coastal environments. Microplastics can come from a variety of sources. Some microplastics are manufactured at that small size as microbeads, found in products like toothpaste and facial scrubs, or pellets, which are used to make larger plastic items. Microfibers, another type of microplastic debris, come from synthetic items such as rope or clothing (like fleece). Microplastics also come from the breakdown of larger plastic pieces, such as water bottles and fishing line. To investigate the number and distribution of microplastics on National Park beaches across the Unites States, researchers at Clemson University collaborated with the National Park Service to collect and analyze sand from 37 coastal National Parks.
Abandoned and derelict vessels (ADVs) are a marine debris problem in many places around the United States, and pose a particular problem in Florida and the Caribbean. In this region, which boasts both beautiful weather and waters, a high number of recreational and commercial boaters unfortunately equals a high number of ADVs. These large marine debris items range in size from small recreational vessels to large steel-hulled commercial ships, but the majority of the ADVs in the region are from recreational use. These vessels may be abandoned or become derelict at the end of their useful life, after damage from storms, or when boat owners cannot keep up with their maintenance due to time and economic constraints. Unfortunately, the removal of debris items like ADVs is extremely costly and logistically difficult, so many ADVs remain where they are and these vessels can lead to all sorts of problems.
Meet Charles Grisafi, the NOAA Marine Debris Program’s Florida and Caribbean Regional Coordinator! Reach out to Charles at firstname.lastname@example.org!
Florida and the Caribbean are full of palm trees, beautiful beaches, and clear waters. Unfortunately, like many coastal areas around the world, the NOAA Marine Debris Program’s newest region is also plagued with marine debris. Luckily, there are several efforts currently underway to address this problem. Check out two newly-established projects in the NOAA Marine Debris Program’s Florida & the Caribbean Region and visit our website for more.
What do dad jokes and marine debris have in common? We’re hoping not to see too much of either this Father’s Day! But, while we might have to deal with a few dad jokes, we shouldn’t have to deal with marine debris. So let’s work to celebrate Dad without contributing to this extremely preventable problem. While you’re celebrating the father in your life, make sure you’re keeping our environment in mind too. Staying at home to enjoy the backyard and a barbecue? Skip the disposable utensils, cups, and plates and use the real stuff. Make sure any trash you do produce gets disposed of properly and recycled if possible.
The NOAA Marine Debris Program is proud to announce the release of the new Marine Debris Emergency Response document for Georgia! This guide takes existing roles and authorities, as they relate to response to an incident that generates large amounts of debris in coastal waterways, and presents them in one guidance document for easy reference. By collaborating with local, state, and federal entities active in the region, this guide aims to facilitate a more timely and effective response to waterway debris incidents in Georgia.
This week marks the 2017 Capitol Hill Ocean Week (CHOW), during which lots of ocean-themed discussions are happening around Washington, DC. Last year, our very own Chief Scientist Amy Uhrin and Katie Register with Clean Virginia Waterways spoke about marine debris on the 2016 OceansLIVE!, a live-streaming web-based platform just for CHOW. Check out the video recording of their conversation about what marine debris is, where it comes from, and what we can do about it. Conversations like these are so important to remind us that we can all make a difference when it comes to marine debris.
This past Saturday was National Get Outdoors Day— did you participate? It’s getting to be that time of year when the weather is beautiful and being outside is awesome. Unfortunately, when you’re enjoying the outdoors, you’re likely to run into something that is way too common: marine debris. Sadly, marine debris is a global problem that originates from a variety of sources. That empty chip bag that you see on your street? That can easily find its way to our waters and become marine debris.
Happy World Ocean Day to everyone that lives on this big, blue planet! Each year, we celebrate this day by honoring our global ocean and all that it does for us. From the food we eat to the air we breathe, we are all connected to the ocean. This year’s theme, “our oceans, our future,” reminds us how we are always connected with the marine environment. Unfortunately, the ocean faces many threats, one of which is marine debris. Huge amounts of marine debris enter our ocean every day, jeopardizing its future health and making marine debris one of the most widespread pollution problems facing the ocean today.
One year ago today, the NOAA Marine Debris Program announced the launch of the “Get Started Toolbox” for our Marine Debris Monitoring and Assessment Project (MDMAP)! Since then, the Toolbox has been visited thousands of times for use as a resource by citizen science volunteers across the country. The Toolbox provides tutorials that cover the basics of the MDMAP, a collection of protocol documents and user guides, data analysis tools, a searchable photo gallery of marine debris items, answers to frequently asked questions, and even a quiz to test your MDMAP knowledge.
By: Sherry Lippiatt, California Regional Coordinator for the NOAA Marine Debris Program
Ever joined a beach cleanup or shoreline survey and wondered “where did all of this marine debris come from?" In reality, there are likely multiple sources including direct littering by beachgoers, wind, stormwater runoff, and the ocean itself. In California, the relative significance of these sources changes seasonally. California is unique in that we have distinct wet (October through March) and dry (April through September) weather seasons, which have a big influence on the amount of trash that travels through stormwater systems and eventually makes its way to our coastlines.
By: Sherry Lippiatt, California Regional Coordinator for the NOAA Marine Debris Program
The Channel Islands offshore of Southern California are a special place with tremendous biodiversity and cultural significance, and home to the Channel Islands National Park and Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary (CINMS). The islands are situated within 60 miles of 18 million people, yet receive relatively few human visitors, harbor 175 miles of undeveloped coastline, and provide habitat for numerous marine mammals, threatened birds, and other species unique to the area. Unfortunately, due to their location and orientation, the Channel Islands are also a local sink for marine debris that enters the Santa Barbara Channel.
Meet Sherry Lippiatt, the NOAA Marine Debris Program’s California Regional Coordinator! Reach out to Sherry at Sherry.Lippiatt@noaa.gov!
California is a state of mind, sun, good times, and unfortunately, marine debris. California’s beautiful coastline is often cluttered with trash and other items that don’t belong there. Luckily, there are several efforts currently underway to address marine debris in this beautiful region of the country. Check out some newly-established projects in the NOAA Marine Debris Program’s California region:
Focusing on the unique Channel Islands, California State University Channel Islands is working to monitor and remove debris from Santa Rosa and Santa Cruz Islands.
The NOAA Marine Debris Program is excited to welcome you to our new blog! Here you’ll find all the features you know and love, with improved integration into our website so all the information you need is right at your fingertips! If you’ve previously subscribed to our blog, don’t worry, you’ll continue to get email notifications of new blog posts. If you haven’t yet subscribed and would like to receive notifications, you can sign up by using the link on our new blog home page under “Email List Request.” All users can manage their account through the provided link.
We are excited to continue to share marine debris information, inspiring stories, and news to keep you informed about the world of marine debris. Every single one of us has a part to play in solving this preventable problem and being informed is the first step. Thank you for your efforts and your enthusiasm to help rid our ocean and Great Lakes of marine debris. We are excited to introduce you to our new blogging platform. Welcome.
Marine debris impacts a variety of wildlife that rely on the ocean and Great Lakes for food and/or habitat. Unfortunately, this includes many animals that are protected under the Endangered Species Act, including species of seals, turtles, whales, and even corals. Even if these endangered species are located within a protected area or far from people, they can still be impacted by this human-created problem, which travels the world’s ocean with the currents. For example, the Papahānuamokuākea Marine National Monument provides one of the last remaining refuges for the Hawaiian monk seal. Although it is extremely remote and far from large human populations, it is still heavily impacted by marine debris, which finds its way to the shores of the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands due to their location in relation to the currents of the Pacific Ocean.
Sunday is Mother’s Day and while you’re celebrating the mothers in your life, take some time to think about Mother Earth, too! There are lots of things we can do every day to show Mother Earth some love, and she deserves it considering all she does for us! One of the simplest and easiest ways to love our Earth is to learn what can be recycled in your area and follow that up by recycling those items properly. Step it up a notch by reusing those items instead—use that plastic water bottle again and again or repurpose it into something completely different, like a bird feeder or flower pot! Step up your Mother’s Day gift-giving game for our Mother Earth even more by reducing your use of or refusing items you don’t need.