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.
One of dozens of bird carcasses found to be full of plastic debris, including lighters
A SMALL SAMPLE OF THE LARGE TONNAGE OF DERELICT FISHING NETS COLLECTED, NW HAWAII
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
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.
Lost or abandoned fishing gear that carries on catching fish
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.
Someone chucked out their net – and caught a harbour seal… and other sad seals
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.