If you don’t know whether an item is rubber, plastic, metal, etc., record it under “Other/Unclassifiable,” provide a description, and take photos. If an item is made of multiple material types, record it according to the most prevalent material type on the exposed surface of the item.
Recording Debris Items
Record the item in the condition you found it. If the item was broken when you found it, record each piece separately. If it broke while you were examining it, record the debris as one item only.
Items should be recorded according to how they’re found at the time of the survey. For example, if a circular strap or band is found enclosed and is < 30 cm in all dimensions it should be recorded as a regular-sized item, but if it is opened/detached and is longer than 30 cm, it should be recorded as a large item.
Smaller (meso- and micro-size) debris is hazardous to marine life and in some instances may be more abundant than larger debris. However, the 2.5 cm size cutoff (about the size of a bottle cap) is used as a standard metric because it is the smallest size that can reliably and consistently be detected with the human eye. Having this size standard increases the reliability of the data being collected, providing a more accurate picture and more robust results.
Search the Monitoring Photo Gallery in the MDMAP “Get Started” Toolbox for the item in question. If you think the item might be a fragment, see the FAQ "Should I record an item as a “fragment” of a given material type, or under the “other” category?"
A fragment is a piece of a larger item that can no longer be identified, or that represents less than 50% the size of the original item. An “other” item would be something that is identifiable but not listed on the datasheet, for example a metal car part. It’s helpful to comment in the notes section of the datasheet on what types of “other” items are found at your survey site.
No. Natural woody debris does not fall under the official definition of marine debris. Only processed or treated lumber should be recorded. Wood that has been cut into beams or planks and/or treated should be recorded as lumber/building material. Burnt firewood is not considered marine debris unless it is clearly processed lumber.
Items should be recorded according to the primary material type on the surface of the item.
Balloons can be made of either rubber or plastic. Plastic (Mylar) balloons have a seam and are made of a metal (foil) coated plastic such as polyethylene or nylon. They usually have a shiny, reflective surface and often times have designs with pictures and/or words. Latex balloons are the traditional ‘party’ balloons. They are also often used at festivals, open houses, sales, mass balloon releases, etc.
Be very careful and do not attempt to pull large items out of the sand if it may be dangerous to do so. When recording the item in the “large debris” section, note the dimensions of the visible portion of the item, take a photo, and make a note that only a portion of the item was measured.