On their yearly trip to collect marine debris from the Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument, the U.S.’s largest marine conservation area, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration removed 50 tons of waste from the northern waters of Hawaii.
There was more than the 50 tons of garbage in the region but the ship was already at maximum capacity. The chief scientist on this job, Kyle Koyanagi was staggered at the volume of foreign matter still in the ocean
What surprises us is that after many years of marine debris removal in Papahanaumokuakea and more than 700 metric tons of debris later, we are still collecting a significant amount of derelict fishing gear from the shallow coral reefs and shorelines.
The monument consists mostly of shallow coral reefs where debris in the ocean can pose serious risks to sea turtles, seals, and other animals that visit the area.
NOAA studied the waste for radiation as a precaution for suspected remnants of Japan’s 2011 tsunami; there was no radiation or connection to Japan found in the wreckage. Half of the waste acquired by NOAA was fishing gear and plastic washed into the ocean from nearby Midway Atoll.
60-80% of marine debris is plastic and and every year more than 100,000 marine mammals in the north Pacific have died due to digestion or entanglement in this waste. Sea turtles are often the victim of this because they ingest plastic bags, mistaking them for jellyfish.
California is in the process of passing a statewide plastic bag ban which would reduce urban pollutions for animals like the sea turtle and Hawaiian monk seal (pictured).
Keep the seas serene. Send a support letter for a statewide bag ban in California