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SAVING OUR SEAS. NAMEPA. What comes to mind when you think of the ocean?. But look at how human intervention has impacted marine environments. MARINE DEBRIS IS THE NUMBER ONE OCEAN POLLUTANT. What is Marine Debris?. Includes objects that don’t occur naturally in the marine environment

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what is marine debris
What is Marine Debris?
  • Includes objects that don’t occur naturally in the marine environment
    • Oceans, salt marshes, estuaries, beaches
  • Marine debris can be classified by the activity that created the waste item
    • “ocean and waterway activities”, “illegal dumping”, “smoking-related activities”
marine debris comes from many different sources
Marine debris comes from MANY different sources!

Where do you think marine debris comes from?

main sources of marine debris
Main Sources of Marine Debris:
  • Beachgoers
  • Improper disposal of trash on land
  • Stormwater sewers and combined sewer overflow
  • Ships and other vessels
  • Industrial facilities
  • Waste disposal activities
  • Offshore oil and gas platforms
  • Each year, thousands of people visit US beaches
  • Many leave behind materials that can become marine debris such as:

-Food packaging

-Beverage containers

-Cigarette butts

-Toys (shovels, pails, Frisbees)

  • Can be blown into the ocean, picked up by waves, or washed into the water by rain
improper disposal of trash on land
Improper Disposal of Trash on Land
  • Trash can be blown or washed directly into the ocean if it is littered or disposed of carelessly
  • Trash can be blown into rivers and streams
  • Rainwater can move trash into storm drains that empty into bodies of water

What can you do to prevent this trash from ending up in the ocean?

ships fishing boats and other vessels
Ships, Fishing Boats and other Vessels
  • Boats of all kinds can be sources of marine debris
  • Sometimes trash is thrown overboard on purpose


  • It is illegal in the US to

put any type of plastic trash

into the navigable waters of the US

    • Many are unaware of the problems this causes, or are unaware its illegal
industrial facilities
Industrial Facilities
  • Items generated by industrial processes can contribute to the marine debris problem when disposed of improperly
    • Plastic resin pellets: raw material to make plastic products

is polluting our


waste disposal activities
Waste Disposal Activities
  • Trash can blow out of a dumpster, trash cans can be knocked over
  • Landfills are designed as a space to dispose solid waste on land while protecting water quality!

offshore oil and gas platforms
Offshore Oil and Gas Platforms
  • These are structures built in the ocean as a base for oil and gas drilling
  • Any items lost become marine debris
  • Sometimes trash is dumped


directly into the ocean from these


  • Trash’s Ability to be blown around
  • Can become marine debris even when they are disposed of properly!
  • Lightweight objects tend to float and are easily blown around – travels long distances
  • Paper, rubber, plastics, and cloth can be carried by the wind
  • Almost any kind of trash can be blown into the ocean!
  • (How long debris will remain in the environment)
  • An object is degradableif natural forces cause it to be broken down into smaller pieces
  • In nature, materials are broken down through a process called biodegradation
  • Microorganisms (Bacteria and fungi) cause material to break down into compounds that can be reused in the environment
  • Temperature and moisture levels affect rate of biodegradation
    • Higher temperature + greater moisture levels = high rates of biodegradation
  • Some materials can break down due to chemical interactions (for example, rust on steel), and others breakdown due to physical forces, including erosion or weathering, where the material actually falls apart into smaller pieces.
will they biodegrade will they be broken down
Will they biodegrade?(will they be broken down?)
  • Plastic, glass, synthetic fabrics, metal?


  • Natural rubber and cloth?


  • Paper?


north pacific gyre1
North Pacific Gyre

This is what happens when our litter reaches a certain point in the ocean

north pacific gyre cont
North Pacific Gyre Cont.
  • 2 times the size of Texas
  • 90% of all trash in the ocean
  • Plastic doesn’t break down
    • Photo degrades
      • “Mermaid tears”
  • Kills wild-life, harms boats/submarines
  • Nets for cleanup harm marine organisms
working toward solutions
Working Toward Solutions
  • Many people are focused on solving the marine debris problem. Working through governments, organizations, and research institutions, people are actively developing solutions.
  • Some of these groups are developing educational programs to encourage people to prevent marine debris.
  • Other organizations are conducting projects aimed at removing debris from the marine environment through beach cleanups, adopt-a-beach programs, and other initiatives.
  • Scientists conduct research to better understand the sources, movement, and fate of marine debris, and to develop tools that will help decrease marine debris impacts in our oceans and coastal habitats.
  • local, state, federal, and international laws have been established to regulate commercial and recreational activities that frequently result in the generation of marine debris.
what organizations and industries are doing to address marine debris
What Organizations and Industries Are Doing To Address Marine Debris
  • Private industry, universities, non-profit research organizations, and environmental groups bring new ideas, financial resources, and educational opportunities to prevent and reduce marine debris.
  • Their efforts are focused on:
    • Changing the behaviors that lead to marine debris
    • Increasing awareness and a better understanding of the problem
    • Finding alternative materials
    • Increasing recycling of waste items
what you can do to help
What YOU can do to help!
  • REDUCE your wastes
  • REUSE products
  • RECYLE plastics, cardboards, and metals!
  • Pick up trash at your local beach!!
  • Proper disposal of trash
  • Boaters ensure trash does not blow away
  • Secure your trash
  • Become an Ocean advocate
  • Educate others about the impacts

marine debris has on our environment