1. Overview: Tutorial 1 is an overview of the goals of the MDMAP, what is expected of MDMAP partners, and the benefits of getting involved.
• Marine Debris has become a pervasive form of pollution in our oceans. It is a unique environmental issue in that it is visible to the naked eye, making it easy for us to make connections between the debris we see in the environment and items we use in our everyday lives. The Marine Debris Monitoring and Assessment Project, or MDMAP, is a citizen science initiative to survey and record the amount and types of marine debris in the environment by engaging NOAA partners and volunteers across the nation.
• The MDMAP “Get Started Toolbox” is a resource for you (current and future volunteers) to learn more about the project, access documents and datasheets, test your knowledge of the survey protocols, search item photos, analyze your survey data, and find answers to frequently asked questions.
• This overview is the first of six brief tutorials to guide you through everything you need to know about the MDMAP before getting started. We will discuss the goals of the MDMAP, what is expected of MDMAP partners, and the benefits of getting involved in this effort.
• The NOAA Marine Debris Program created the Marine Debris Monitoring and Assessment Project in order to provide monitoring tools to partner organizations nationwide. The NOAA monitoring protocols were designed to be widely applicable and inexpensive to implement, and intended to promote standardization of shoreline marine debris monitoring efforts. With a larger, standardized dataset, we can begin to answer important research questions about the types, abundance, and sources of debris to the marine environment. Further, the MDMAP’s network of partner organizations and the results of locally-based shoreline monitoring studies provide great opportunities for outreach and raising awareness about marine debris issues, sharing the message that every individual can become a part of the solution.
• Regular, rigorous, long-term monitoring studies conducted through the MDMAP can provide meaningful data on the distribution, types, and abundance of debris in the marine environment. Knowing where, how much, and what types of debris are present, as well as how the debris load is changing over time, is essential to developing new and effective prevention policies and strategies for education and outreach.
• MDMAP volunteers are the backbone of this effort, and we would not have a successful project without them. The countless hours that our volunteers and partners have contributed over the lifetime of this project, and will in the future, is commendable and something we are incredibly grateful for. MDMAP partners have come from the non-profit, academic, and government sectors, and in some cases we’ve even had individual volunteers adopt a shoreline monitoring site. If you’re interested in volunteering with an existing partner organization to the program, please contact us through the “submit a question” link on the “Get Started Toolbox” and we can try to connect you with a local organization. If you’re ready to become an MDMAP volunteer, you should first review the information in the “Get Started Toolbox,” take the online protocol quiz, and request an account at the MDMAP online database to enroll in the program. By enrolling in the MDMAP, you are committing to conducting shoreline monitoring surveys on a monthly basis, according to the published survey techniques outlined in the toolbox. Be sure to check out the tutorials and protocol documents that explain how to conduct surveys and enter your data online. Partners need to upload their own data to the MDMAP Online Database in order for it to be included in any data analysis efforts.
• The NOAA Marine Debris Program (MDP) is supporting the marine debris community by leading efforts to compile debris data from volunteer-based surveys. Participation in the MDMAP puts data collected on debris from your local beaches into a larger national context. All data uploaded to the MDMAP Online Database is openly available to the research community for any data analysis efforts, including any projects sponsored by NOAA. The NOAA Marine Debris Program is committed to continuing to work with the marine debris community, applying MDMAP monitoring data to answer key research questions about debris in the environment. This will hopefully bring us to the ultimate goal of developing more effective prevention and mitigation strategies to prevent the impacts of marine debris on our oceans. Last but not least, MDMAP is a great excuse to get outside and get to know your local shorelines!