THE NOAA Marine Debris blog is well worth a visit – as is any part of the NOAA WEBSITE devoted to the topic. You’ll find out all about the trash in the sea – and why it’s heading for a beach near you… I will be posting occasional images here, all from the NOAA. All relate in some way to marine conservation. Some are fairly graphic, so I won’t say ‘Enjoy!’. At the very least, they will be thought-provoking.

 Midway Atoll National Wildlife Refuge

“The variety of litter we found on Midway Atoll, a little wildlife paradise more than 1,000 miles from any city, was astounding. Each team surveyed several transects of shoreline, cleaning up debris 10 centimeters or larger in size. Bottle caps, cigarette lighters, and small floats were an exception, since birds eat them. We picked up 7,436 hard plastic fragments, 3,748 bottle caps, 1,469 plastic beverage bottles, 477 lighters, dozens of buoys, ropes, and floats, toys, toothbrushes, laundry baskets, shipping crates, a firefighter’s hat, and other remnants of human consumption and commercial fishing activity.

Cleaning up shorelines is less physically taxing than diving for derelict nets, but it can be brutal in its own way. Each pile of miscellaneous debris, no matter how heavy, has to be carried and waded out to the small boats, which are positioned off shore. Everything gets packed into enormous, 42 gallon bags in the boat and transported back to a pier on Midway’s main island. Each bag weighs more than 200 pounds with all the debris packed inside.

Then there’s “the sort,” which is exactly what it sounds like: we dumped everything on the pier, sorted it into categories, and tallied it up. It was chaotic – 243 bottle caps here! 20 hard buoys over! – and very dirty. Gloves and a tolerance for foul smells were a must.img_1435

One of dozens of bird carcasses found to be full of plastic debris, including lighters100614_midway_spit_md2_001



We Hauled 14 Metric Tons of Derelict Nets off Maro Reef

In just six days and despite adverse weather conditions, an NOAA team managed to exceed their expectations for this site and surveyed nearly 1 million square meters of area and recovered an estimated 14 metric tons of marine debris! Click on the Headline, which will link you to the full story on the NOAA website.


Endangered Sea Turtles Benefit from Volunteers’ Dirty Work

By: Leah Henry May 1, 2014  The Coastal Cleanup Corporation (CCC) removed over two tons of marine debris from endangered loggerhead sea turtle nesting habitat on Elliott Key and they have even more cleanups scheduled. George and Suzy Pappas, the founders of CCC, a non-profit organization in South Florida, with help from volunteers and funding from NOAA’s Community-Based Marine Debris Removal project removed 4,019 pounds of plastic, foam, rubber and glass, as well as derelict commercial fishing gear and wooden shipping pallets that drifted onto the shores of the island via wind, currents, and tides.

2014_CCC_Marine debris (plastic) that washed up on Elliott Key2014_CCC_530 pounds of marine debris

Marine debris that piles up on the coastal dunes can block, entangle, or injure nesting female sea turtles as they come ashore to dig nests. The removal effort will likely have a positive impact on nesting loggerhead sea turtles. Last year, Biscayne National Park resource managers saw a significant increase in the nesting activity of sea turtles on the oceanside beaches of Elliott Key following the removal of more than five tons of marine debris. The Pappas will complete the second half of their cleanups in the next few months and we look forward to checking in on their progress.  

2014 Marine Debris Calendars Are Now Available

by NOAA Marine Debris Program

2014_calendar_cover-1 The 2014 Marine Debris Calendar, featuring winning artwork from the 2013 “Keep the Sea Free of Debris!” art contest, is now available while supplies last! To request a printed calendar, email with:

  • Subject line: “2014 Calendar request”
  • Your name and preferred mailing address



Lost or abandoned fishing gear that carries on catching fish

Ghostfishing-NOAA Marine Debris12009656_10154213595437977_7886049542029449276_n


Wildlife experts cut away more than 280 feet of commercial fishing line being dragged by an endangered right whale off the Georgia coast – though some of the heavy rope had to be left tangled in the whale’s mouth. There are only about 450 of these whales left in the world.

Right Whale entangled in 280 ft of rope

Someone chucked out their net – and caught a harbour seal… and other sad seals

Entangled-harbor-seal NOAA Marine DebrisSeal with plastic bandmonkseal


Take a remote area of the world, say, Alaska. Find a remote part of that area. Check out the beaches strewn with bleached timber and you will find… tons of mankind’s trash. If you are lucky, a working party from the NOAA will be there to bag to all up and dispose of it. Then the cycle will start again, carried in on the very next tide.

img_0327 img_0447 img_04761img_0595 img_0636 img_0639


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