New Standards-Based Curriculum Available! krista.e.stegemann Tue, 01/03/2017 - 14:43

We are excited to announce the release of Nature’s Academy’s Standards-Based Curriculum, which was created as part of their Science Literacy Project as part of an effort supported by the NOAA Marine Debris Program.

This curriculum incorporates lessons on marine debris into a broader investigation that helps students make the connection between the various parts of an aquatic ecosystem, as well as understand how people can impact such environments. It is designed to be used by fifth-grade teachers that are participating in the Nature’s Academy hands-on educational program in Florida. It outlines the specific standards that are covered by the included lessons, provides background information meant to best prepare students and teachers for participation in the field trip activities, and includes comprehensive lesson plans that utilize the Nature’s Academy Citizen Science Database.

South Carolina Incident Waterway Debris Response: A New Comprehensive Guide for the State

Posted Mon, 11/28/2016 - 11:50

The NOAA Marine Debris Program (MDP) is proud to announce the release of the new Incident Waterway Debris Response document for South Carolina! This guide takes existing roles and authorities, as they relate to response to an incident that generates large amounts of debris in coastal waterways, and presents them in one guidance document for easy reference. By collaborating with local, state, and federal entities active in the region, this guide aims to facilitate a more timely and effective response to waterway debris incidents in South Carolina.

Sea Kayak Marine Debris Cleanup: Restoring Wilderness Shorelines in the Gulf of Alaska krista.e.stegemann Tue, 11/08/2016 - 12:49

By: Tom Pogson, Guest Blogger and Director of Education, Outreach, and Marine Programs for Island Trails Network

Even though Shuyak Island State Park is a remote wilderness island in the northern Gulf of Alaska, it has been heavily impacted by marine debris. Through a community-based removal grant project funded by the NOAA Marine Debris Program, Island Trails Network (ITN) led 29 volunteers from June 12th to September 4th of this year to help remove marine debris in this area. There were six teams of five to seven sea paddlers, which each spent two weeks camping and collecting debris to restore coastal habitats on Shuyak. During 56 total days of cleanup, we collected 35,036 pounds of marine debris from a continuous belt of coastal habitat (52 miles in length) along the island’s northwest shore. Cleanup teams moved freely along the coast in sea kayaks, which were a convenient means of accessing shallow rocky shorelines.

New Marine Debris Prevention Curriculum Reaches Over 1,000 Students! krista.e.stegemann Wed, 11/02/2016 - 12:00

By: Megan Lamson, Guest Blogger and Vice President for the Hawai‘i Wildlife Fund

Hawaiʻi Wildlife Fund (HWF) is excited about the release of the new marine debris prevention curriculum designed for elementary school students around Hawaiʻi, created through a project funded by a NOAA Marine Debris Program Prevention through Education and Outreach grant.

Over the past two school years, HWF mentors piloted this curriculum in 20 public schools, working with over 52 teachers and 1,140 students (grades K-5) in schools around Hawaiʻi Island (including schools located in Kona, Kohala, Kaʻū, Hāmākua, Hilo, and Puna). “It was a great pleasure guest teaching in the many different classrooms around the island.  We look forward to deepening our relationships with Hawaiʻi Island students and teachers in the coming years” said HWF mentor and Education Coordinator, Stacey Breining.

Marine Debris Research: Ecological and Economic Assessment of Derelict Fishing Gear in the Chesapeake Bay

Posted Thu, 10/13/2016 - 13:41

By: Amy Uhrin, Chief Scientist for the NOAA Marine Debris Program

The Chesapeake Bay blue crab fishery accounts for 50% of the United States blue crab harvest, and is worth about $80 million annually. It’s estimated that about 600,000 crab traps (also called “pots”) are actively fished on an annual basis in the Bay. Some crab pots become lost (derelict) when the pot’s buoy line becomes detached or cut, either by vessel propellers, faulty lines, or vandalism. Strong storms can also move pots from their original deployment location, making them difficult to relocate. In addition, pots may be abandoned, as has been observed at high rates in some regions of the Bay. Once lost, derelict pots can damage sensitive habitats and continue to capture blue crabs and other animals, often resulting in their death. 

Removing Debris in Tenakee Springs, Alaska: A Look Back krista.e.stegemann Fri, 10/07/2016 - 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 Alaska.

Back in 2012, the community of Tenakee Springs, Alaska received funding from the NOAA Marine Debris Program to remove debris in their remote community. Tenakee Springs, with less than 100 residents, sits about 50 air miles from Juneau in Southeast Alaska and is inaccessible by road. In fact, there are no roads at all in the town, just a long, wide trail that people use to get around via foot, bike, or four-wheeler.

Marine Debris Research: What Happens When Salmon Eat Foamed Plastic?

Posted Thu, 10/06/2016 - 11:31

By: Carlie Herring, Research Analyst for the NOAA Marine Debris Program

After the 2011 tsunami in Japan, the Alaskan coastline experienced a rise in debris washing ashore. Although there was an increase in many types of debris, the abundance of expanded polystyrene (think foamed plastic) increased on some beaches by as much as 1,600% from 2008 to 2012. This spurred interest by NOAA scientists at the Auke Bay Laboratory in Juneau, Alaska, to explore the interaction between this foam debris and an important Alaskan fishery species: pink salmon (Oncorhynchus gorbuscha). The researchers were interested in both determining the potential of juvenile pink salmon to ingest small foam pieces and understanding the physiological consequences of ingesting foam debris (such as, would ingesting foam alter their growth rates?). Through support from the NOAA Marine Debris Program, the team began an experimental study to address these questions.

Removing Marine Debris in Alaska

Posted Tue, 10/04/2016 - 11:44

Although preventing marine debris is the ultimate solution, removing debris as it accumulates on our shores is an unfortunate necessity. In Alaska, there are currently some pretty cool removal efforts underway to clean up Alaska’s coasts, which are often remote and difficult to access.

The Island Trails Network (ITN) is addressing the issue of debris in remote areas in an innovative and unique way! This effort focuses on Shuyak Island, an area rich in biodiversity that’s located in the western Gulf of Alaska. This location is exposed to high winds and strong currents that cause marine debris to build up, but also make it difficult to access. To solve this problem, ITN recruited qualified volunteers from around the world to come to Alaska and clean the shoreline using sea kayaks, collecting debris and moving it to more easily-accessible areas, where it is later removed and analyzed.