The Gulf of Maine, which extends from the Bay of Fundy to Cape Cod Bay, is one of the most dynamic and productive marine ecosystems in the world. With its unique coastal habitats and rich waters, the region supports a variety of wildlife from migratory shorebirds to fish, shellfish, and marine mammals. It also provides valuable economic, cultural, and recreational opportunities for people who call the Gulf of Maine home. Unfortunately, marine debris from human-made materials, such as plastics and derelict fishing gear, can damage ocean and coastal habitat and harm wildlife through entanglement and ingestion.
Plastic particles less than 5mm in size, known as microplastics, are found everywhere that scientists have looked, including in the coastal waters of New England. The eastern oyster is an important commercial aquaculture species that has been shown to eat microplastics. In partnership with the NOAA Marine Debris Program, marine scientists at the University of Connecticut sampled oysters in the field and performed a series of selection experiments in the laboratory to determine what types of microplastics oysters prefer to eat or reject and how that relates to what is in the natural environment.
We are pleased to announce, with the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, a request for proposals under the Hurricane Response Marine Debris Removal Fund is now open through June 29. The program will primarily fund marine debris assessment, removal, restoration, and disposal activities in coastal communities in Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, and the western Florida Panhandle.
As we approach the 2022 hurricane season, we are sharing NOAA Marine Debris Program resources to help you prepare for storms and prevent storm-generated debris from accumulating in waterways and on shorelines. Hurricanes and typhoons are among nature's most powerful and destructive events, and when these natural disasters strike they can create massive amounts of debris. That’s why the NOAA Marine Debris Program is participating in Hurricane Preparedness Week and working with coastal states and U.S. territories to help communities prepare for hurricanes and prevent and respond to marine debris.
As temperatures slowly warm, and the Earth begins to thaw, springtime energy is evident across the Northeast Region. Though planning, cleanups, debris sorting, outreach, and research have been ongoing all winter, the NOAA Marine Debris Program’s grant-funded partners across Maine, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Connecticut are ramping up for the summer field season and we have a lot to share!