Today is World Water Day, a day to recognize that water is our most precious resource, needed by every single living thing on earth. In the Great Lakes, over 40 million people depend directly on HOMES (Lakes Huron, Ontario, Michigan, Erie, and Superior) for drinking water. These lakes are the largest freshwater system on Earth and contain a fifth of the world’s water, adding up to more than 6 quadrillion gallons. Unfortunately, marine debris not only exists in our ocean, but can also be found in the Great Lakes and affect the quality of the water that we are drinking. Tiny plastics less than 5mm in size, called microplastics, dominate the waters of the Great Lakes. We don’t yet know how microplastics in our drinking water can affect human health, but we do know that preventing marine debris is a crucial step in improving the water quality of the Great Lakes.
Spring is just around the corner. Warmer weather often inspires us to throw open the windows and clean out our hibernation caves. Spring cleaning is a time-honored tradition, but it can also generate huge amounts of waste. Clothes that don’t fit anymore, old trinkets, or anything else that does not spark joy can end up in a landfill. The more waste we produce, the more likely it is that some of our discarded items will end up escaping a garbage truck or landfill and end up in our waterways. As you clean, think about these questions to keep our ocean and Great Lakes clean as well.
The Pearl River is one of the most biologically diverse river systems in the Southeast with over 140 fish species and 28 mussel species, making it a high priority for conservation. Overtime the Pearl River, just upstream of Bogalusa, became blocked by an over accumulation of woody debris resulting in part by land use changes and then accelerated through recent hurricanes and flooding events. This project, funded through a NOAA Marine Debris Community-based Removal grant, combines efforts across multiple federal, state, and local agencies, NGOs, corporations, and local communities to restore hydrologic function for important fish species to be able to travel freely upstream to spawn
Thousands of miles of rivers east of the Rocky Mountains flow down the continental US and empty into the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico. Debris from as far away as Minnesota and Pennsylvania can end up in the waters off the Louisiana or Alabama coast. Preventing and removing debris in the Gulf States can be a huge challenge, but the Marine Debris Program’s partners in the region are up to the task.