Marine debris is another name for mankind’s garbage at sea. Our trash threatens marine life in one of two ways, through ingestion (which often leads to starvation) and entanglement (which can cause strangulation). An estimated 80% of marine debris comes from land-based sources. Therefore, the activities with the highest potential for reducing marine debris flows are prevention through education and control of land-based debris. SeaLife Conservation has been capturing marine debris and discussing its impacts with our passengers aboard the Derek M Baylis on daily trips out of Monterey harbor from 2005 through 2011. In 2006 we incorporated data analysis into our collection efforts. We then began studies in San Francisco Bay in March of 2007 and rapidly discovered that the abundance of debris would yield more data and thus a stronger indication of human impacts on the bay. Utilizing GIS technology and Trimble hardware we have refined our data capture technique over the past five years. We have also developed a database of 120 distinct debris types that allows us to target specific products and consumer groups.
The map above indicates that styrofoam is the most common type of debris found exiting San Francisco Bay, with plastics like shopping bags and water bottles the second most common. We have discovered that the best way to utilize our knowledge and resources is to share our study results with the public. This type of data is being used as an educational tool for individuals and communities to help them make more informed choices when considering bans on styrofoam takeout containers and plastic bag ordinances. Please join us in considering the actions which you engage in everyday and become a better ocean steward. The two simplest things you could do today are to bring your own bag to the grocery store and refill your own waterbottle!
An estimated 80% of marine debris comes from land-based sources.
GIS technology and Trimble hardware have helped us develop a database of 120 distinct debris types to target specific products and consumer groups.
Styrofoam (shown in red) is the most common type of debris found exiting San Francisco Bay, with plastics like shopping bags and water bottles (shown in yellow) the second most common.
What you can do to help: Bring your own bag to the grocery store, and refill your own water bottle!