Why does MarineLab and so many other organizations throughout the world participate in Ocean Conservancy’s International Coastal Cleanup? This is why:
Marine debris—whether from fishermen, beachgoers or boaters- has become a huge problem in our oceans and most definitely within our subtropical ecosystem here in the Keys. The plastics and lost fishing gear harm corals, sponges, lobsters, turtles, manatees, etc. Seagrasses, hardbottom, patch reefs, bank reefs and mangrove habitats are all affected by marine debris.
According to a long term study by researchers from Nova Southeastern University, in 2012 debris recovered from nine acres of survey sites weighed 1000 lbs, and included 2027 feet of fishing line and 6561 feet of lobster and crab trap line (http://floridakeys.noaa.gov/scisummaries/marinedebris2013.pdf). As was found in previous surveys, the Nova researchers concluded that hook-and-line angling gear is the most frequent type of debris recorded, making up 45% of the total number of items. Lost lobster and crab trap fishing gear was the second most abundant type of debris. This included lines, wooden slats, plastic trap throats and cement weights. Trap debris was more responsible than angling gear, however, for impacts on marine life.
There is plenty of “weird” trash found as well. According to the Ocean Conservancy’s 2014 coastal cleanup report, debris removed on September 20 included toilets, a blond wig, guitars, a working Ipad, a letter in a bottle, a voodoo doll in a jar and most of the items necessary for a wedding (wedding gown, wedding ring, veil, top hat, bowties) (http://www.oceanconservancy.org/our-work/marine-debris/icc-data-2014.pdf ).
Two sites to visit to learn more about the effects of marine debris and how you can help: