NOAA Marine Debris Program e-Newsletter | January 2023

Boats piled up and stranded in mangroves along a shoreline.

Derelict vessels piled up along the shore in Boot Key Harbor, Florida, following Hurricane Irma (Credit: NOAA).

In This Issue

Hurricane Response Marine Debris Removal Fund Awards

Working Toward a Debris Free Florida in the New Year

Celebrate MLK Service Day

Making Progress on Marine Debris in the Mid-Atlantic

Capturing Debris and Inspiring Action in the Mid-Atlantic

Removing Derelict Crab Pots from Delaware’s Inland Bays

Marine Debris Impacts on Wildlife

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Clipboard at the beach.

Monitoring Toolbox

The NOAA Marine Debris Monitoring and Assessment Project has an updated Monitoring Toolbox! Check out the new video tutorials and database visualization tools, along with refreshed guides and field datasheets. The Monitoring Toolbox contains all of the resources you need to get started.

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2023 Marine Debris Calendar Available Online

Cover of the 2023 Marine Debris Calendar.

The 2023 Marine Debris Calendar is available for download! This year’s calendar features artwork from thirteen students in kindergarten through eighth grade from nine states and two U.S. territories, all winners of the “Keep the Sea Free of Debris” art contest.

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Website & Blog

2022 Hurricane Response Marine Debris Removal Fund Awards

Vessels and a dock left damaged after a hurricane.

Damaged vessels and other marine debris were left in the wake of Hurricane Sally in coastal Alabama (Credit: NOAA).

Following a competitive review process, the NOAA Marine Debris Program and National Fish and Wildlife Foundation are pleased to announce the five recipients of the 2022 Hurricane Response Marine Debris Removal Fund. The awards will go to Gulf of Mexico states impacted by the 2020 and 2021 hurricane seasons, totaling approximately $1.6 million in federal funds. Federal funding is supplemented by grantee matching contributions, bringing the total investment of these marine debris projects to approximately $2.4 million.

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New Year, Same Goal: A Debris Free Florida

A pile of recovered derelict fishing gear piled at the back of a boat headed back to shore.

A dive team returning to shore after a marine debris cleanup for the Goal: Clean Seas Florida Keys project (Credit: Sean Davis).

Florida is unique as the only state that borders both the Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico. No matter where you are in the state, you’re never more than 60 miles from the nearest body of water. It also means that the daily choices and activities of Florida’s residents and visitors can easily lead to debris in our coastal and marine habitats. Luckily, our partners across the region are kicking off the New Year with renewed energy and effort in leading marine debris removal and prevention projects to keep Florida’s waters healthy and free of debris.

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Celebrate Martin Luther King, Jr. Service Day by Joining a Neighborhood or Shoreline Cleanup

A person wearing work gloves placing a plastic bottle in a bag during a cleanup.

Volunteers cleaning up bottles and other trash at an event in Washington, D.C. (Credit: NOAA).

This month, on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, let’s remember that it’s not just a day off from work and school, but a day to think about what it means for our country. To commemorate a great man who spent his life serving others, this day has become a time to come together to give back to our communities and volunteer our time to a good cause. If you’d like to participate in MLK Day of Service, consider doing a cleanup in your area. Cleaning up your local shoreline or even just your neighborhood can help prevent trash from becoming marine debris and can help to create a healthy ocean that we can all enjoy. Learn more about how you can help.

Making Progress on Marine Debris in the Mid-Atlantic

An old boat on a salvage vessel after being removed from a cove.

A derelict vessel being successfully removed from New Jersey’s Weehawken Cove (Credit: Courtesy of the City of Hoboken).

Throughout the year, the NOAA Marine Debris Program will spotlight each region for an entire month. Take a look back at the Mid-Atlantic projects we highlighted in December.

The Mid-Atlantic coast of the United States is a large, dynamic, and diverse place. Home to over 10,000 miles of coastline and spanning from Virginia to New York, it features major metropolitan areas, iconic coastal bays and estuaries, and an incredible array of wildlife and habitats. Unfortunately, seemingly everywhere we turn, marine debris can also be found. Debris litters the Mid-Atlantic waterways and coastlines, entangles and captures wildlife, scars habitats, and harms the regional economy.

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Capturing Debris and Inspiring Action Along the Anacostia River

An informational sign titled "Working toward a trash free Anacostia River" on a litter trap installed on a stream.

A litter trap installed in a tributary of the Anacostia River captures debris before it gets any further downstream (Credit: NOAA).

The Anacostia River has a long and important history. Today, the Anacostia River watershed is home to more than 800,000 people, encompassing portions of Washington, DC, and Prince George’s and Montgomery Counties in Maryland. Unfortunately, each year hundreds of tons of trash from surrounding lands makes its way into the river. Nearby communities have been working hard to address this problem, and help guide overall reductions in trash and litter entering the river.

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Mapping, Marking, and Mobilizing to Remove Derelict Fishing Gear from Delaware’s Inland Bays

A person on a boat viewing a side-sonar screen showing crab traps on the bay floor.

A researcher locates derelict recreational crab pots using side-scan sonar (Credit: University of Delaware College of Earth, Ocean, and Environment).

The shallow, protected habitats of Delaware’s Inland Bays make for one of the most popular areas in the state for residents and tourists to try their hands at catching blue crabs. In boats or on the shore, recreational crabbers use all kinds of gear, from hand lines, to trot lines, to small traps with collapsible sides, and the Chesapeake style crab pot. Unfortunately, thousands of derelict crab pots have been left behind or lost, and are littered beneath the surface of the Inland Bays. The University of Delaware and Delaware Sea Grant, with funding from the NOAA Marine Debris Program, worked to address the issue by teaming up with recreational crabbers to remove derelict pots. 

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The Impacts of Marine Debris when Ingested by Wildlife

A marine debris team member removes marine debris from where a juvenile laysan albatross is nesting.

During a cleanup in the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument, a team removes marine debris from where juvenile laysan albatross are nesting (Photo: NOAA).

Today is National Bird Day, and we want to highlight that seabirds are one of the many kinds of wildlife that are impacted by marine debris. Plastics and other debris can be found in even the most remote places, including far-off islands where seabirds find shelter, breeding grounds, and food. When seabirds encounter plastic items in their environment, they can mistake them for food. Learn more about what happens when wildlife eat, or ingest, marine debris.

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