The Coral Reef Ecosystem Division Marine Debris Project, run by NOAA’s Pacific Islands Fisheries Science Center, has collected 848 tons of debris in the northwestern Hawaiian Islands since the program began in 1996. The cleanup efforts began after ocean garbage pollution was identified as a major threat to certain endangered species native to Hawaii.
In a recent cleanup project this year in Midway Atoll 1,200 miles from the Hawaiian mainland, divers hauled out an 18-wheeler’s worth of human debris during the 19 days of fine-tooth combing the sea floor. Divers physically went down and removed broken fishing gear and tattered nets little by little with pocket knives, slowly cutting away at the debris that were entangled while bringing it to the surface, and transporting it in small vessels on to larger support vessels.
Marine garbage found ranged from soda cans, plastic bags, derelict fishing gear, and abandoned vessels. Unfortunately, often times animals eat this garbage and it strangles them or blocks their digestive system causing starvation. Entanglement can cause drowning or allow for attack from other ocean predators. Even if just attached, it slows the animals’ ability to move through the water, and animals starve due to their inability to catch prey.
Pollution can be reduced a number of ways. Many communities have beach-clean-up days or weeks to promote keeping our ecosystems clean. Recycling also reduces the amount of trash that pollutes the ocean. Care should be taken to make sure that oil from cars, suds from washing, and other pollutants do not end up in our environment. Any landscaping should be protected until it is stable so that silt does not get washed into rivers and streams. Party balloons should be popped and never released into the air. Always pick up your trash when you leave the beach.
Each year, GR8-White donates a percentage of their gross sales to non-profit organizations that are dedicated to help protecting our Earth’s oceans and waterways through their Going Blu campaign. To learn more about GR8-Whites’s Going Blu campaign, please visit the link below.