Being Part Of The Solution: Marine Debris Tracker

marine debris
Fishing net and other debris were found on a beach Hawaii. Photo source: NOAA Marine Debris Program


Summer is around the corner and millions of people worldwide will be heading to beaches and waterways for sun and fun. Will they find clean beaches and clear waterways?

With bottles, cans, abandoned or lost fishing gear and other marine debris washing up on our shores each year, the University of Georgia and NOAA have teamed up to create a new, innovative cell phone reporting mechanism to combat the marine debris problem. This high-tech tool, or app, tracks where marine debris is accumulating and gives anyone with a “smart phone” an opportunity to be a part of the solution.

The easy-to-use Marine Debris Tracker app can be downloaded free for use on iPhones and Android phones. The simple tool allows users to report the type of debris and its location through GPS features pre-installed on a cell phone. The data reported are posted at for viewing and downloading. The app also encourages users to recycle or properly dispose of the trash they find.

Jenna Jambeck, assistant professor for the Faculty of Engineering at UGA and one of the app’s developers, says the app is one way the initiative is trying to reach people and raise awareness of marine debris.

“If you are noticing marine debris, you are also much less likely to litter,” says Jambeck. “While this app collects data, one of its primary goals is to educate the public about marine debris and its harmful impacts.”

Marine debris can kill or injure wildlife when animals ingest it or become entangled in it. The debris can also have an economic impact on the tourism industry and other coastal businesses by affecting the beauty and cleanliness of beaches and waterways.

Jambeck and co-developer Kyle Johnsen, her colleague from the Faculty of Engineering at UGA, hope that the Marine Debris Tracker tool will help city officials make decisions about how to handle marine trash, from supplying extra trash cans to providing opportunities to recycle or dispose of abandoned or lost fishing line and other gear.

The new smart phone app was made possible through SEA-MDI, a new regional partnership between the NOAA Marine Debris Program and a consortium of organizations in Georgia, South Carolina and North Carolina. The initiative aims to create collaborative regional strategies that address marine debris prevention, reduction and mitigation.

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C40 Large Cities Climate Summit

brazil brian hodges
Coastal Brazil. Photograph by: ©Brian Hodges

By Claire Le Guern

Six years ago, representatives of 18 leading world cities, met in London to address global warming and climate change.The representatives understood the urgent need for action and cooperation on reducing greenhouse gas emissions and pledged to work together towards achieving that goal, through a range of energy efficiency and clean energy programs, as well as developping creative solutions, in response to the great challenges imposed by climate change.

The 40 major cities, whose mayors are currently attending the fourth C40 Summit in Sao Paulo, including New York, Jakarta, Mexico City, Berlin, Barcelona, Rio de Janeiro and Paris, are responsible for 12 percent of global greenhouse emissions.

The current chair of the C40 is Mayor Michael R Bloomberg of New York City.

“For the first time in history, cities are home to more than half of the world’s population, and together account for more than 80% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions,” Mayor Bloomerg declared.

Yesterday, the group annouced that a financing agreement with the World Bank to help the world’s major cities better adapt to climate change, has been reached.

US President Bill Clinton, whose foundation works with the C40 group, praised the agreement, as he said that one of the biggest problems with going green was financing.

Learn More About The C40

The Sao Paulo Summit, C40 Fourth Conference

Japan Underestimated Tsunami Hazard For Nuclear Sites, UN Experts Find

The damaged Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station as seen during a sea-water sampling boat journey, 7 November 2013. Captions and Photo source: ©© IAEA Imagebank


Experts from the United Nations atomic energy agency said, June 1st, that Japan had underestimated potential tsunami hazards to its nuclear power plants before the March earthquake and tsunami that damaged the Fukushima Daiichi facility.

The team of international nuclear safety experts, from 12 countries, said in a preliminary assessment of the safety issues that “the tsunami hazard for several sites was underestimated,” according to a press statement of the United Nations International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)…

Read Full Article, UN News Centre

EPA Begins Monitoring Summer Monitoring to Protect Area Beaches, Coastal Waters

Dune restauration. Photograph: © SAF — Coastal Care

Excerpt; by John Senn, EPA

With the beginning of the beach season, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is again undertaking a beach and harbor protection program to safeguard beaches and bays in New Jersey and New York and protect the health of the people who enjoy them.

EPA’s program includes helicopter surveillance for floating debris, water quality sampling and grants to support state beach protection programs. The summer monitoring program kicked off on Saturday, May 28 with helicopter flights searching for floating debris in the New York/New Jersey Harbor.

“EPA is on the job every summer sampling water quality to make sure that beachgoers can enjoy the water without worry,” said EPA Regional Administrator Judith Enck. “Our efforts also ensure that floating debris is found and removed from the water before it can make its way onto a beach where it could affect people’s health and damage wildlife.”

Working together with other federal, state and local agencies, EPA’s program operates seven days a week. This comprehensive, science-based beach and coastal water program has many components, including shellfish bed water quality monitoring, and grants to states to help with their beach monitoring and public notification programs. As they do every summer, EPA scientists will fly over the New York/New Jersey Harbor in a helicopter, searching for floating debris. The helicopter will also be used to collect water samples near shellfish beds and along the New Jersey coast for phytoplankton analysis, and take samples for bacteriological analysis around Long Island to support New Jersey’s and New York’s shellfish protection program…

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More Information, EPA

Chilled Offering, Tallows Beach Cape Byron, Australia; By Johnny Abegg

Chilled Offering

Chilled Offering

By © Johnny Abegg

Chilled Offering is a photo I took for a community mailout I do here in Byron Bay called Common Ground. It was a cool and moody morning on the eve of Autumn, on the 23rd of February, just before 7am. The clouds where moving swiftly from South to North, with a still Southerly wind blowing at Tallows Beach, on the southern side of Cape Byron.

…a certain magic of aloneness, intwined with the roar of an untamed ocean.
— Johnny

There was nobody on the beach, in which lives a certain magic of aloneness, intwined with the roar of an untamed ocean. As the clouds shift with every moving moment, I was lucky enough to capture this image of the sea, with a Nikon D7000 and a 35mm/1.8 lens.

To me this photo represents the dark times our oceans are having with our need to exploit it’s very beauty, food and resources, yet this darkness is overshadowed by rays of light, a metaphor to us that we can also be it’s saviour, and walk forth a patron of the sea.

South West National Park, Tasmania; By Johnny Abegg

South West Marine Debris Cleanup

By Johnny Abegg

Have you ever dreamed of a place as a child that you always wanted visit?

I was lucky enough to visit South West National Park in Tasmania, chartering the South and West coast by boat for the annual South West Marine Debris Cleanup. Growing up in Tasmania from the age of 4 to 15, this is that place of wonder for me. A childhood dream realised.

Sipping on a warm cup of coffee in my comfortable abode in Byron Bay, I got the last moment call up from Patagonia to have a slot on the trip. I couldn’t believe it. Suddenly I was touching down in Hobart to familiar sights and surrounds, that only a childhood could breed.

The initiative has been running for over a decade, facilitated by Environmental Scientist Matt Dell from Hobart. The cleanup aligns itself with Patagonia‘s ethos of giving back to our planet, donating 1% of profits (grossing $40 million to date) to grassroots initiatives such as the South West Marine Debris Cleanup. Through Dell’s passion for the Tasmanian natural environment, a love for the South West (a World Heritage area), and with the support of companies like Patagonia, the trip is a very important endeavour in highlighting the facts, that even in the most remote and isolated areas of the planet, our influence is felt.

A group of 23 volunteers was orchestrated this year to aid Dell in the week-long cleanup (the biggest contingent in the cleanups history). Thousands of pieces of rubbish (some bigger than others) wash up onto these isolated shores with no access to the public. Chartering a group of fishing vessels, we were able to enter these wanderlust areas, doing our bit by collecting the debris, hauling them onto our boats, sorting the rubbish by night into categories, and getting to breath and taste the remote wonder of Tasmania’s main jewel in it’s crown.

As an added bonus, we also got the chance to surf!

The might of the Roaring Forties is a constant influence on Tasmania, a world owned by Mother Nature. Radio is the only means of communication with daily forecasts of 3-4 metre seas bombarding portions of our trip, with fluctuating weather and wind, and the adjusting sea-legs for those in new territory. The empty white sand beaches and new footprints governed, we were explorers to a foreign shore. The serenity was shadowed by jagged ranges of mountainous teeth in our peripherals. The ying/yang beauty was unfortunately desaturated by all the colours of the rainbow in plastic, bottles, rope, bait straps, fishing nets, beer cans and so much more.

Over the days, which turned into a week, the grand total of rubbish collected off six beaches was 18357 items, totalling around 3.5 tonnes. This is the biggest recorded haul in the Cleanup’s history. In material terms 93% of the rubbish was plastic comprised mainly of rope, bottles and miscellaneous plastic pieces, and 4.5% was metal mainly as aluminium cans. Small pieces of plastic, caps and lids continue to be found in increased numbers, and these along with small pieces of rope and bait box straps accounted for over 70% of the rubbish items collected.

The lesson…To respect what we have, to find ways to sustain, and let places like this flourish and be wild, unmarked by mans lack of accountability.
— Johnny

This humbling figure came down to the team recovering 11,317 items in just five hours off a 1.5 kilometre length of coastline. A series of rocky coves were home to kelp riddled foreshores of cross thatched nature and garbage. An eyesore as far as the eye could see. The prognosis was no better in the opposite direction, where sharp rocks and cobblestones where home to an ambush of florescent, we had found Tasmania’s ‘Garbage Patch’. There is still more to obtain next year.

This year the team finally recovered ‘temples de rope’ – three huge rope balls weighing between 200-400 kg each that Dell had observed over the last few years. There awe and size took at times 10-12 people to move the monsters, and hours of deliberation and digging. The rope was finally hauled aboard by a Hiab, lifting them from the water, and leaving the beaches beautiful.

The more unusual items found on the shore this year included a fridge, a bodyboard, a cold full can of beer and an assortment of toys including a still inflated party balloon. Once again there was rubbish from all corners of the globe including numerous Japanese, Chinese and Korean oil and food containers, fishing buoys and trawl nets.

A selection of the rubbish was displayed at Salamanca Market on the 7th of May 2011.

The trip was a dream come true for me. The South West National Park is like stepping into another world. A place where you can breath the freshest air, marvel at the wild country, and know that you as a human being are a part of Mother Nature.

This is the lesson. To respect what we have, to find ways to sustain, and let places like this flourish and be wild, unmarked by mans lack of accountability.

South West Marine Debris Cleanup: Video By Johnny Abegg

Filmed and Edited by Johnny Abegg
Music by Any Noise

The South West Marine Debris Cleanup is an annual trip orchestrated by Environmental Scientist Matt Dell to the remote wilderness of Tasmania, where tonnes of rubbish can be found on the beaches of this pristine and isolated environment.

This is his story.

Thanks to Patagonia for their ongoing support of environmental issues.

For more about the cleanup, or to make a donation visit: marinedebris.blogspot

HidroAysén’s Approval Takes Chile in the Wrong Direction

Patagonia canvas makoto-yamashita-2011
“Canvas,” Patagonia, Chile. Photo courtesy of: © Makoto Yamashita


May 9th, 2011, Chile’s environmental authorities approved HidroAysén’s proposal to build five dams on two of Patagonia’s wildest rivers, the Baker and the Pascua.

The 11-to-one vote ended an almost three year review process for what has become the biggest environmental controversy in the country’s history. The company and the government have lauded HidroAysén and other large conventional energy projects as the best way to meet Chile’s future energy demand…

Read Full Article, NRDC

Keep Chilean Patagonia Wild, The New York Times

Chilean Patagonia: A Way Of Life Under Threat By Dams, See Photo Gallery from Guardian UK

China to step up fight against plastic addiction

Despite China’s rapid economic development, there remains a marked disparity between the country’s wealthy and underpriviledged population. This family, originally from Guizhou Province (a western China province), moved to the rich Delta Yangtze River coast in search of new opportunities. They currently work in a Jiangsu landfill, sifting through garbage in search of any valuable reselable items. Captions and Photo source: ©© Sheila


China will expand a ban on free shopping bags, state media said, as it tries to further curb its addiction to plastic in a bid to rid the country of “white pollution” that clogs waterways, farms and fields.

Bookstores and pharmacies nationwide will soon be forbidden to give out free plastic bags, joining the ranks of supermarkets that have had to charge for shopping bags since June 1, 2008, the official Xinhua news agency reported…

Read Original Article, AFP

Queen Anne’s Revenge’s Anchor Recovered Off NC Coast

Queen Anne’s Revenge, dry dock and floating again. In Barber’s Point Harbor, Hawaii.
The 3,000 lb. anchor from Queen Anne’s Revenge, which sank in the Atlantic waters near Beaufort, NC, in 1718 just before pirate Blackbeard was killed in battle. Photo source: ©© Vicki Watkins


Archaeologists recovered the first anchor from what’s believed to be the wreck of the pirate Blackbeard’s flagship off the North Carolina coast yesterday, a move that might change plans about how to save the rest of the almost 300-year-old artifacts from the central part of the ship…

Read Original Article, AP

Did Archaeologists Uncover Blackbeard’s Treasure? Smithsonian magazine

Capt. Kidd Shipwreck Site To Be Dedicated Living Museum Of The Sea, in Coastal Care

Sinking Oil Threatens Historic Gulf Shpiwreck, in Coastal Care

The mission of the Santa Aguila Foundation is to raise awareness of and mobilize people against the ongoing decimation of coastlines around the world.

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