Marine debris is a huge issue plaguing our world today. Marine debris describes any manmade material that enters our waterways and impacts the surrounding environments. Eighty percent of the litter that is found in our oceans originates from land. Join us in uncovering the truth behind marine debris and what we can do to be tools of change.
Litter reaches the ocean in a variety ways. These sources are categorized as direct or indirect. An example of a direct source of marine debris is when a person intentionally litters or chooses not to clean up their trash after a trip to the beach. An example of an indirect source of marine debris is when litter finds its way into the ocean through runoff or wind.
Once litter reaches the ocean, it is extremely hard to remove. In the early 1980’s, scientists discovered that there was a floating pile of marine debris in the northern part of the Pacific Ocean. After continued research, scientists discovered there are a total of 5 “garbage patches” or gyres located around the world. Gyres are large ocean systems formed by global wind patterns, ocean currents, and the Earth’s natural rotation. Unfortunately, research concludes that these gyres are only getting larger. The 2 gyres located in the Pacific Ocean are estimated to be twice the size of the state of Texas. What most people do not know, is that the majority of the litter found within gyres are microplastics. Microplastics are small pieces of plastic that break off of plastic pollution. Microplastics ruin the quality of water, harm marine species and are becoming more prevalent in the water that humans use for consumption and other daily tasks.
This year, Nature’s Academy launched a new Citizen Science Program that focused on the increasing problems associated with marine debris and microplastics. Students aided our efforts by taking and processing water samples, sediment samples and recording biodiversity data, as well as collecting and documenting marine debris in two separate locations. The main goal of our program was to educate our students about the existing problem and then to identify ways that they are able to combat the issues. All of the data that was recorded by our students will be uploaded to our Citizen Science Database. This database provides an outlet for our students to record and share information they collected with people and scientists from all over the world.
For more information about this and other programs, visit the Nature’s Academy website and bring your students on the edventure of a lifetime.