Did you know that the Marine Debris Tracker App recently logged 2 million pieces of litter and debris from all over the world? This app has been around since 2010 as a joint initiative between the NOAA Marine Debris Program and the Southeast Atlantic Marine Debris Initiative (SEA-MDI). In addition to this significant milestone of number of items found, the mobile app has undergone a series of improvements including a more user friendly interface than the last version (includes over 5 languages), a broader platform to explore more marine debris data, and more filter options that allows the user to truly personalize their marine debris collection.
Along with these updates, there has been success in organizations using the open data for education and outreach. For example, the Georgia Sea Turtle Center created a citizen science program that uses the app during beach cleanups along the Georgia coast. This initiative allows participants to plot the location and type of marine debris found in and around the coast. In addition, the app will be used in the collection of plastic waste data used by National Geographic’s ‘Sea to Source’ Expeditions of iconic waterways through Bangladesh. National Geographic will also use the app in the fall EcoBlitz California (September 30-October 25, 2019) to focus on discarded plastics and other trash. This project engages educators and classrooms to gather data to better understand the interconnected nature of the human and natural world.
Whether you are an explorer, a student, or a concerned citizen, next time you find yourself at the beach, coast or waterway, we encourage you to download and use the Marine Debris Tracker App to easily report marine debris sightings at any time! Looking for something a little more rigorous? You can check out the Marine Debris Monitoring and Assessment Project (MDMAP). The MDMAP is the Marine Debris Program’s flagship citizen science initiative that engages partner organizations and volunteers across the nation in completing monthly shoreline marine debris surveys.