Education and Action: A One-Two Punch for Reducing Marine Debris on the Washington Coast
Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary

Feiro Marine Life Center and the NOAA Marine Debris Program partnered up to educate students and residents from Washington’s Olympic Peninsula about marine debris impacts to the ocean.

Project Dates: September 2014 - August 2016

What is the project?

The coastline of Olympic Peninsula in Washington, to the west of Puget Sound and south of the Strait of Juan de Fuca, is a mosaic of marine ecosystems. With its sandy beaches, rocky headlands, and sea stacks, the Olympic Coast boasts incredible scenery and abundant marine wildlife. Unfortunately, like many other beach landscapes, marine debris plagues this shoreline.

In order to educate local students and residents on marine debris and inspire action, Feiro Marine Life Center and Washington CoastSavers launched a program called Education and Action: A One-Two Punch for Reducing Marine Debris on the Washington Coast. The two-pronged program focused on education efforts in coastal communities and elementary schools through classroom activities and field studies at local beaches, as well as action through beach cleanups and visits to an aquarium. More than 1,000 elementary school students from the Olympic Peninsula participated in this project. Some of the materials associated with the program can be found in the "Resources - Downloads" box on this page.

What does it accomplish?

Through the program, students and their communities were made aware of the marine debris problem and became better equipped to prevent it. They also developed long-term relationships with local beaches by monitoring beaches for debris, collecting data, and participating in cleanups. The program encouraged residents to participate in the annual Washington Coast Cleanup involving dozens of beaches between Cape Disappointment and Cape Flattery and throughout the Strait of Juan de Fuca.

These cleanups gave volunteers the chance to be part of the solution to the problem along on the Washington coastline.

Who is involved?

Feiro Marine Life Center led the effort on this project in partnership with the NOAA Marine Debris Program, Washington CoastSavers, and the Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary as part of NOAA’s Marine Debris Prevention through Education and Outreach funding opportunity.

What is something unique about the project?

Students participated in a field study at a local beach to investigate marine life in the nearshore environment and to collect marine debris. Students recorded marine debris data using a modified version of the NOAA Marine Debris Program’s Shoreline Survey Field Guide protocols.