Exciting Things Are Happening in the Southeast!

Posted Tue, 04/26/2016 - 11:00

What do microplastics, nesting sea turtles, derelict crab trap floats, local fishermen, and whale guts have in common? They’re all part of some of the exciting projects going on in the Southeast region to fight marine debris! There’s lots going on in the NOAA Marine Debris Program’s (MDP) Southeast region right now, check out a quick glimpse at some of these projects supported by the MDP:

Starting down in Florida, Sea Grant is creating a network of citizen scientists to test water samples for microplastics and using that information to educate Floridians about plastic debris. 

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The Truth About Garbage Patches krista.e.stegemann Mon, 04/18/2016 - 10:50

Although most people picture a floating mass of debris when they think of a “garbage patch,” that’s actually pretty inaccurate. Let’s set the record straight and get to the truth about garbage patches.

First off, garbage patches have been wildly misrepresented in the media in the past, causing confusion on the subject and leading many to believe that there is a large “island of trash” in the Pacific Ocean—at least the size of Texas!— that you can walk around on. This is extremely far from reality.

To start, when people talk about “the garbage patch,” they are usually referring to the Great Pacific Garbage Patch in the Pacific Ocean—one of many garbage patches located throughout our global ocean. These garbage patches are formed as a result of rotating ocean currents called “gyres,” which pull debris into their center, creating areas with higher concentrations of marine debris. 

NOAA’s 2016 Northwestern Hawaiian Islands Removal Mission Sets Sail

Posted Thu, 04/14/2016 - 12:45

Every year, multiple NOAA offices collaborate to support a marine debris removal effort in the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument (PMNM), located in the remote and mostly uninhabited Northwestern Hawaiian Islands. Due to the PMNM’s location in relation to the North Pacific Gyre and ocean currents, this area is often highly afflicted with marine debris and these efforts are greatly needed. This year, the NOAA Pacific Islands Fisheries Science Center (PIFSC) Coral Reef Ecosystem Program of the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), the NOAA Marine Debris Program, and the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument of the Office of National Marine Sanctuaries have organized and supported an effort to clean Midway, Kure, and Pearl and Hermes Atolls, Lisianski and Laysan Islands, and the French Frigate Shoals. The 2016 mission launched on Tuesday, April 12th, and will work to remove marine debris for a month, until the mission ends on May 13th

Balloon Marine Debris on the Washington Coast

Posted Thu, 04/07/2016 - 11:43

By: Nir Barnea, Pacific Northwest Regional Coordinator, and Emma Tonge, Intern, with the NOAA Marine Debris Program

 Many thanks go out to Russ Lewis, Heidi Pedersen, and Dana Wu for the balloon reports.

I was on a phone interview with Glenn Farley, a reporter with King 5 TV in Seattle who was preparing a report on balloons that become marine debris, when he asked, “So, how many balloons have been found along the Washington coast?” Unfortunately, I didn’t have an answer for him. “I find balloons occasionally during marine debris cleanups, and I know that others do too, but I don’t have a number for you,” I told him. Obviously, this was one of those situations where “I’ll get back to you later” was in order.

His question made me curious, and I wanted to have a better idea of the scale of this problem. How many balloons? What type? How do we get this information? It was clear that a full scale, scientific study on the number of balloons arriving on the Washington coast would take much time and effort. But, could we possibly get current anecdotal information to give us an idea of how many balloons are found?

Snorkelers Looking to Remove Marine Debris Find a Surprise and Something Great Happens

Posted Wed, 04/06/2016 - 10:05

The NOAA Marine Debris Program is celebrating our 10-year anniversary throughout 2016. As part of this celebration, we’d like to take the time to look back on some of our past work. Check out this entangled sea turtle that was found back in 2006 and happily released back into Hawaiian waters, free of marine debris.

Marine debris can impact our ocean in many ways, one of which is wildlife entanglement. On this trip, a sea turtle was found entangled in a derelict fishing net.

As members of the NOAA marine debris removal effort in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands were about to start the process of removing a large derelict net ensnared on some coral, they found a surprise— a poor entangled sea turtle! Each year, NOAA supports this effort to remove marine debris from the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument, which resulted in over 14.5 metric tons of debris collected last year alone!

California Fights Marine Debris With New Storm Water Regulations

Posted Wed, 03/02/2016 - 09:58

By: Sherry Lippiatt, California Regional Coordinator for the NOAA Marine Debris Program

As we previously explored in this blog post, California’s coasts are consistently plagued with marine debris, so the state’s active and engaged environmental community has been working to build momentum and visibility on the issue. Recently, there has been response to this problem in the form on a new Trash Policy.

Curious about the buzz over this recently EPA-approved Trash Policy (aka Trash Amendments) in California? Check out this recent post from our partners at the California Coastal Commission for a non-wonky history of trash reduction policies in the state and what these new storm water regulations will do to reduce marine debris.

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New Jersey Event Highlights Derelict Crab Pot Removal Efforts

Posted Tue, 03/01/2016 - 10:16

On Friday, February 26th, the NOAA Marine Debris Program and its partners held an event in Waretown, New Jersey, to highlight an exciting derelict crab pot removal effort in Barnegat Bay. The event highlighted a project, led by the Conserve Wildlife Foundation of New Jersey and supported by a NOAA Marine Debris Program Community-based Marine Debris Removal grant, which is working to identify, retrieve, and inventory over 1,000 derelict crab pots from Barnegat Bay, N.J.

Covanta partnered with the Conserve Wildlife Foundation of New Jersey to provide two bins for collecting the retrieved derelict gear, to then haul and dispose of at their waste-to-energy facility. 

Abandoned Vessels in the Rouge River: Removing Debris in the Great Lakes

Posted Thu, 02/25/2016 - 10:23

Over the years of the NOAA Marine Debris Program, there have been many efforts around the country to rid our waters and shores of marine debris. As part of our ten-year anniversary celebration, let’s take a look back at one of those efforts in our Great Lakes region.

Fordson Island, in the Lower Rouge River, is located near Detroit, Michigan, and was the site of some pretty neat removal efforts back in 2011. The area actually has some cool history which you can read more about here. The shore of Fordson Island, which hosts some of the last remaining undeveloped habitat in a very industrialized area, was unfortunately the site of a lot of marine debris, most notably abandoned and derelict vessels.