NOAA Marine Debris Program e-Newsletter | April 2024

Cover of the NOAA Marine Debris Program Turning the Tide on Trash Newsletter.

A community clean up initiative (Photo: Mr. Bolota via Adobe Stock).

In This Issue

2024 Ocean Odyssey Awards

April is Earth Month

All The Tools You Need To Tackle Marine Debris

Citizen Science Webinar Series

Hawaiian Monk Seals Face the Threat of Derelict Fishing Fear

Planet NOAA Podcast

Quick Links

Marine Debris Website
Marine Debris Blog
Monitoring Toolbox
In Your Region
ADV InfoHub

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.

Learn More

Want to hear more from the NOAA MDP? Follow us on:

Facebook Logo


Twitter Logo


Instagram Logo



Website & Blog

2024 Ocean Odyssey Marine Debris Awards for Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, Justice, and Accessibility

A group of volunteers picking up plastic marine debris on a sandy beach.

Check out the award receipients (Photo: Mr. Bolota via Adobe Stock).

The NOAA Marine Debris Program and the National Marine Sanctuary Foundation are pleased to announce the 12 recipients of the Ocean Odyssey Fiscal Year 2024 Marine Debris Awards for Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, Justice, and Accessibility, totaling over $84,000. These projects will support initiatives that investigate and prevent the adverse impacts of marine debris in communities that are underserved, underrepresented, or overburdened. Check out the award recipients! 

Learn More

April is Earth Month

A pile of miscellaneous colorful plastic bottle caps.

During a 2016 cleanup in Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument, the team removed 3,140 bottle caps (Photo: NOAA).

Earth Day falls on April 22, but we are celebrating environmental stewardship and citizen science all month long! One of the environmental threats facing our planet is plastic. Plastic is the most abundant type of marine debris in our ocean, Great Lakes, and waterways. The source of plastic marine debris can come from human activities on land and at sea, or enter the environment through disasters. Once it’s in the environment, plastic causes problems for people, ecosystems, and our economy. Learn more about plastic and why it’s a problem

This Earth Month, you can be a part of the solution! Be sure to subscribe to our blog and follow our social media to stay up to date on ways to be an environmental steward.

Learn More

All The Tools You Need To Tackle Marine Debris

Two volunteers sitting on the ground sorting through marine debris and classifying them by type.

Debris is counted and sorted behind a wind break after being collected during training survey at Parque La Esperanza in Cataño Puerto Rico (Photo: NOAA).

Public participation in science goes by many names (“citizen science,” “community science,” and “volunteer monitoring” to name a few) and takes many forms. Through the NOAA Marine Debris Monitoring and Assessment Project, the NOAA Marine Debris Program partners with the public to conduct surveys on shorelines. These surveys are valuable scientific tools that are used to identify ways to prevent and track progress toward reduction of marine debris. Learn how to conduct a marine debris survey and gain firsthand experience with the issue, while collecting authentic scientific data!

Learn More

Citizen Science Webinar Series: Participatory Science in Marine Debris Monitoring

Cover slide for the Citizen Science Webinar Series called "Participatory Science in Marine Debris Monitoring".

Watch the full webinar (Photo: NOAA Central Library).

Hillary Burgess, Monitoring Coordinator for the NOAA Marine Debris Program, shares how the NOAA Marine Debris Monitoring and Assessment Project, or MDMAP, engages NOAA partners and volunteers around the world to survey and record the amount and types of marine debris on shorelines. MDMAP aims to detect changes in the amount and type of marine debris, guide and evaluate prevention of marine debris, inspiring action, and to provide tools to partners to contribute and meet their own goals. Since it was launched in 2012, NOAA has invested in evaluating and improving MDMAP for greater impact with an emphasis on reducing barriers to participation. This talk presented by the NOAA Central Library explores how MDMAP navigates trade-offs in standardization and flexibility, ease of participation and rigor, and data quantity and quality.

Watch the Webinar Recording

Hawaiian Monk Seals Face the Threat of Derelict Fishing Gear

Three Hawaiian monk seals playing in shallow waters.

Monk seal juveniles interacting in Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument (Photo: NOAA).

Hawaiian monk seals are endemic to Hawai‘i, meaning they are native to the islands and can only be found there. They are also endangered and have been listed under the Endangered Species Act since 1976. These seals are a vital part of the marine ecosystem in the Hawaiian islands and are an apex (or top) predator. Hawaiian monk seals face many threats caused by humans, including food limitation and habitat loss. However, one of their most significant threats is marine debris. Hawaiian monk seals are observed stuck in nets and fishing gear more than almost any other pinniped (seal, sea lion, or walrus) species.

Learn More

Planet NOAA Podcast: To The Stars and Beyond

Cover of the Planet NOAA Podcast.

Check out the podcast (Photo: NOAA/NASA).

The inaugural Planet NOAA Podcast kicked off in March with a highlight of a NOAA Marine Debris Program project with the University of Florida. Planet NOAA goes behind the NOAA headlines and explores conversations with scientists one-on-one. How does marine debris impact our waterways and how can we make a difference? With support from the NOAA Marine Debris Program through Bipartisan Infrastructure Law funding, the University of Florida and Florida Sea Grant recently installed a marine debris capture device. Operation TRAP, or “Trash Reduction in Aquatic Preserves," is focused on capturing marine debris before it enters Florida waterways. 

You can learn more about the installation and Operation TRAP by listening to the Planet NOAA Podcast! 

Listen Here