Blue Fox Bay Lodge Marine Debris Cleanups

Posted Fri, 10/16/2015 - 16:47

By: Colleen Rankin, Guest Blogger and Resident of Blue Fox Bay

In 2012, through the outreach efforts of the Marine Conservation Alliance (now administered by the Sitka Sound Science Center), we were selected to receive a grant to remove marine debris from the remote beaches in this area. During the next three years, our efforts continued with the support of the NOAA Marine Debris Program, a private grant, and the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation, with funding provided by the Japanese government to clean up tsunami-related debris. Along with a few volunteers, we have removed over 32,000 pounds of varying debris.

“Washed Ashore” Art and Education

Posted Mon, 09/28/2015 - 12:46

 By: Nir Barnea, Pacific Northwest Regional Coordinator for the NOAA Marine Debris Program

The first thing you see as you approach the Washed Ashore gallery in Bandon, Oregon, is a creation of plastic pieces and nets: Henry the Fish. When you enter the gallery and look up, an ocean gyre is above you. It is made of a bluish fishing net, and plastic pieces of different shapes and colors “float” within it. A whale bone structure made of white plastic containers is in the center. Although they are colorful, nothing is painted: there is plenty of marine debris in all shapes and colors available to give the sculptures any color in the rainbow, highlighting the message that marine debris is a prevalent problem we must address.

NOAA PIFSC Coral Reef Ecosystem Program Removed 32,201 Pounds of Marine Debris from Midway Atoll in the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument!

Posted Fri, 09/25/2015 - 15:50

By: James Morioka, Guest Blogger and Field Logistics Specialist with the NOAA PIFSC, Coral Reef Ecosystem Program

The Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument (PMNM), located around the mostly uninhabited Northwestern Hawaiian Islands, includes reefs, atolls, and shallow and deep-sea habitats which are home to more than 7,000 marine species, many unique to Hawai`i. Centrally located within the North Pacific Gyre, the PMNM is particularly prone to marine debris accumulation that presents potentially lethal threats to numerous marine and avian species. For example, of the approximately 1.5 million Laysan Albatrosses located at Midway Atoll in the far northwest of the PMNM, nearly all are found to have plastic in their digestive system, and roughly one-third of chicks die due to plastic ingestion.

Impacts of Marine Debris: the Struggle for Marine Animals

Posted Fri, 09/11/2015 - 15:10

A plastic bag may look flimsy, but in a fight against a sea turtle, it often wins. Unfortunately, the marine debris that we find floating in our oceans and waterways all too often impacts marine life.

There are many ways that marine debris can impact marine animals. For instance, the accidental ingestion of debris is a big problem! Animals may unintentionally eat debris along with their meal, or intentionally ingest trash due to its resemblance to real food.

Addressing A Rising Concern: Balloon Debris

Posted Thu, 01/15/2015 - 11:13

By: Leah Henry

People intentionally release balloons into the environment to celebrate events and commemorate special occasions. Balloon debris often ends up in streams, rivers, and the ocean, where marine animals can ingest the balloons or become entangled by their attachments, causing injury and even death.

Although many people make the connection that when balloons go up they eventually come back down to Earth, others—even those who would never consider throwing a newspaper or candy wrapper on the ground—will release balloons accidentally or participate in a mass release of balloons without considering the end results.

Garbage Patches: The Cost of a Cleanup (Part 2)

Posted Fri, 07/13/2012 - 01:10

By: Carey Morishige, Pacific Islands Regional Coordinator, NOAA Marine Debris Program

Over the last several years, the infamous “Great Pacific Garbage Patch” has gained popularity. Whether described as an island of trash or a soup of plastic, it has haunted the dreams of ocean conservationists. As I described in my last post, there are a lot of misconceptions about the so-called garbage patch, among them the size and amount of marine debris entrained in this area. To understand the many unknowns about the ‘garbage patch,’ you must first understand what the area really is. In a nutshell, it is a large area of marine debris concentration caused by the clockwise movement of the surface of the ocean. Sailors and fishermen have known of this area for decades—to them it is the North Pacific Subtropical High, a high pressure zone typically avoided by sailors.

'Garbage Patches': What We Really Know (Part 1)

Posted Thu, 06/21/2012 - 13:28

By: Carey Morishige, Pacific Islands Regional Coordinator with the NOAA Marine Debris Program

Working for the NOAA Marine Debris Program, I’ve been asked quite a bit about the ‘Great Pacific Garbage Patch.’ "Is it really twice the size of Texas?" "Can you see it from an airplane? On Google Earth?"  Working for a science-based agency has underscored my belief in the importance of information based on what is actually known, directly from the experts. That said, I’d like to take this opportunity to debunk some of these ‘garbage patch’ myths.

As you’ve probably seen, the media has been filled with stories about plastic marine debris and the so-called garbage patches. It’s a popular topic (and an important one, don’t get me wrong). However, one common thread through many of these articles deals with misconceptions about the size of the ‘garbage patches.’