Another Successful Removal Mission in the NWHI Wraps Up

Posted Fri, 05/20/2016 - 11:30

The 2016 Northwestern Hawaiian Islands marine debris removal mission came to a close last Friday, May 13, successfully hauling in 12 tons of debris from Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument. A marine debris team of 10 NOAA scientists was part of the removal effort that spanned 32 days cleaning Midway Atoll National Wildlife Refuge, Pearl and Hermes Atoll, Kure Atoll State Wildlife Sanctuary, Lisianski Island, and the French Frigate Shoals.

The annual removal mission, which began in 1996, has removed a total of 935 tons of marine debris to date including the 12 tons of marine debris from this year’s mission. The NOAA Marine Debris Program has supported this yearly effort since the program’s inception in 2006. As the program celebrates its 10th anniversary this year, it also marks ten years of funding this removal effort in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands. 

Take Only Debris, Leave Only Footprints

Posted Wed, 05/18/2016 - 13:47

By: Liat Portner, Amanda Dillon, and Kristen Kelly, Guest Bloggers and Scientists with the NOAA Coral Reef Ecosystem Program

The NOAA Pacific Islands Fisheries Science Center (PIFSC) Coral Reef Ecosystem Program’s (CREP) removal mission in the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands is completed! For more on this effort, check us out on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, and take a look at CREP’s interactive daily map for details on daily activities.

Our team of ten embarked on the NOAA ship Hiʻialakai to begin our journey down the Northwestern Hawaiian Island chain. We began with the oldest and most northwestern of the Hawaiian Archipelago, Kure Atoll.

Landing on the shores of Kure, our team was greeted by the State of Hawaii’s Department of Land and Natural Resources field crew, who remove debris throughout their field season.

Debris Removal at Midway Atoll National Wildlife Refuge: Midway Through the Mission

Posted Fri, 05/06/2016 - 12:04

By: Ryan Tabata and Rhonda Suka, Guest Bloggers and Scientists with the NOAA Coral Reef Ecosystem Program

 The NOAA Pacific Islands Fisheries Science Center (PIFSC) Coral Reef Ecosystem Program’s (CREP) removal mission in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands is already half way through! The removal team has finished its work at Midway Atoll and is headed to Kure Atoll for the next phase of the effort. Check us out on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram for daily updates on this effort, as well as CREP’s interactive daily map.

We were greeted by Bonin Petrels flying in the night like shooting stars and were shuttled in stretch limo golf carts to our rooms. The following morning, a brilliant orange sunrise unveiled all that is Midway Atoll National Wildlife Refuge. 

Lobster Trap Debris in the Florida Keys: A Look Back

Posted Fri, 04/29/2016 - 10:29

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 Southeast region.

Derelict fishing gear can cause lots of problems, including damaging important and sensitive habitats, ghost fishing, and posing hazards to navigation. Unfortunately, derelict commercial lobster and crab traps are a prominent type of marine debris in the Florida Keys.

A New Study Looks at Derelict Traps in the Florida Keys

Posted Thu, 04/28/2016 - 02:56

Research is an important part of our fight against marine debris, as it allows us to learn more about the topic and be better able to target and address it in the future. Thanks to a new study by our very own Chief Scientist, Amy Uhrin, we now know a little more about derelict lobster traps and how they impact habitat in the Florida Keys. Read all about it and get the link to the scientific paper in this NOAA Response and Restoration blog post.

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

Posted 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