Marine Debris Blog
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.
Spring has finally sprung throughout much of the country and for many, that means it’s time for some spring cleaning. It’s a great feeling to get rid of some of your extra stuff, but make sure you think about the environment while you’re clearing some extra storage space. “Out with the old, in with the new” isn’t always the rule of thumb. Avoid adding that old stuff to the waste stream by thinking about how it could be repurposed. Have some old clothes? Hold on to them and use them as dust cloths or rags, which are always handy around the house. There are endless ideas online for how to reuse or repurpose lots of items. Or, donate them instead of ditching them in the garbage can. Have some things that simply must be tossed? Make sure to recycle when you can.
By: Matthew Coomer, Intern with the NOAA Marine Debris Program
You may not think about wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs) very often, but you use them every day. In fact, they are essential to protecting our health and the environment; WWTPs change our sewage into clean water that can safely re-enter rivers and the ocean. These facilities are complex, but to simplify, they filter solid material out of wastewater, allow microorganisms to feed on the organic matter that’s left behind, and then kill any dangerous bacteria. Whenever you use water at home or in your community, you use your local WWTP. Unfortunately, while these treatment plants are very good at their job, they may also be point sources of a persistent type of marine debris— microplastics.
Earth Day is tomorrow and there is still plenty of time to figure out how you’d like to get involved and celebrate! There are many things we can all do in our everyday lives to help our planet and Earth Day is a great time to start those habits. Earth Day is also a good time to make the extra effort to get involved in a cleanup. You can get outside to enjoy the nice spring weather and have a good time with friends as you also work to pick up debris and clean our environment. Not sure where to find a cleanup near you? Check out this list of cleanups throughout the country! There have been some recent additions to the list, so take another look if you’ve seen it already.
By: Amanda Laverty, Knauss Fellow with the NOAA Marine Debris Program
Earth Day is just around the corner and it’s the perfect time to get involved and support efforts working toward a clean environment and healthy planet. We want to remind ourselves to make these efforts throughout the year, so Earth Day is a great time to start. This year, let’s challenge ourselves as consumers to make better daily choices so that we can collectively lessen our impact on the planet! It only takes a few consistent choices to develop new sustainable and earth-friendly habits. Here are a few easy and effective ways you can choose to reduce your daily impact and make a world of difference:
- Bring a bag. Remember to bring reusable bags to the grocery store or for any other shopping activities to reduce consumption of disposable bags.
By: Nir Barnea, Pacific Northwest Regional Coordinator for the NOAA Marine Debris Program
To most residents and visitors in the Pacific Northwest, marine debris is what they see on the beautiful beaches of Oregon and Washington: items such as plastic consumer debris, commercial packaging, and even balloons. Luckily, agencies and NGOs including CoastSavers, Grassroots Garbage Gang, Oregon SOLVE, and the Oregon Marine Debris Team have collaborated together and with the NOAA Marine Debris Program (MDP) for years to prevent and remove this debris, much of it arriving from around the Pacific to the sparsely-populated Pacific Northwest coast. Another form of marine debris, derelict fishing gear, is less visible, but still harmful to the environment, commerce, and navigation. Derelict crab pots, shrimp traps, and lost nets and lines can entangle marine wildlife, harm the sea floor upon which they rest, pose a risk to navigation, and even threaten human safety.
Like the rest of the country, the Pacific Northwest is unfortunately not immune to the impacts of marine debris. Luckily, there are many efforts in this region to address the marine debris issue, one of which focuses on the power of art.
Washed Ashore, an organization based in Oregon, works to prevent marine debris by raising awareness through art. After collecting debris on beaches and then cleaning and sorting it by color, the Washed Ashore group creates large and intricate sculptures made exclusively of marine debris. By building and displaying these sculptures, which mostly feature animals impacted by debris, this project aims to reach a broad audience to raise awareness of our connection to the debris issue and to inspire changes in our habits as consumers. Many of these sculptures now travel around the country as part of traveling exhibits, reaching broad audiences throughout the nation.
By: Nir Barnea, Pacific Northwest Regional Coordinator for the NOAA Marine Debris Program
Over the years, Oregon’s agencies, NGOs, and industry have done remarkable work to prevent and remove marine debris along the Oregon coast, rivers, and nearshore areas. In order to address marine debris in Oregon even more effectively, Oregon marine debris stakeholders got together to create the Oregon Marine Debris Action Plan, and within a year, completed it.
The Oregon Marine Debris Action Plan, a collaborative effort of federal and state agencies, tribes, local governments, non-governmental organizations, academia, and industry, is a compilation of recommended strategies and actions to prevent, research, and remove marine debris in Oregon. Bringing together the Oregon entities working on marine debris, the Plan will increase coordination and collaboration in executing on-going and future actions, and help track progress over time.
It’s April and that means that Earth Day is right around the corner! This year, Earth Day is on Saturday, April 22nd, and it’s a great 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! Here are a few to get you started.
Don’t see a cleanup close to you? Keep an eye on our blog and website for updates closer to Earth Day or start one yourself—gather some friends, grab some gloves and bags, and clean up your area (please remember, safety first)!