Text-Only Version | Accessibility Statement

Plastic Ocean Debris

Ocean Protection

Five Ways to Help the Ocean

  • Choose reusuable items such as canvas shopping bags & stainless steel beverage bottles
  • Buy items with less plastic packaging; recycle film plastics
  • Dispose of trash & cigarette butts properly
  • Participate in beach & neighborhood litter cleanups
  • Educate yourself & encourage others

Disposable plastics pose environmental risks as they accumulate, particularly in the marine environment.

The University of Georgia Marine Extension Service strives to increase awareness of disposable plastics in coastal communities and worldwide.

Plastics are designed to be highly durable, yet are increasingly used in manufacturing disposable items. Litter often finds its way into the ocean either directly from beaches or by way of storm drains. Many animals become entangled or mistakenly ingest plastic debris.

MAREX began a Water Quality Program outreach effort in 2011 to address plastic debris in the ocean and present consumer options to reduce human impact on the marine environment. In a hands-on educational program, an interactive presentation is paired with creative activities to cultivate support for environmental protection and stewardship.

Participants examine real ocean water samples to explore how, as plastics break down, microscopic fragments displace plankton and impact the food chain. In addition, participants discuss innovative display items such as bags and notebooks made from repurposed debris and are encouraged to consider local and global aspects of the plastic debris issue and practice sustainable actions in their own lives.

Mistaken as food, bottle caps and other marine debris can become entangled in bird beaks.  Photo credit: Ocean Conservancy.

Mistaken as food, bottle caps and other marine debris can become entangled in bird beaks. Photo credit: Ocean Conservancy.

Turtles can confuse plastic bags for jellyfish. Photo credit: Alejandro Fallabrino.

Turtles can confuse plastic bags for jellyfish. Photo credit: Alejandro Fallabrino.

Upcycling waste can create new ways to prevent more from being created! Photo credit: XS Project.

Upcycling waste can create new ways to prevent more from being created! Photo credit: XS Project.

Mistaken as food, bottle caps and other marine debris can become entangled in bird beaks.  Photo credit: Ocean Conservancy.
Turtles can confuse plastic bags for jellyfish. Photo credit: Alejandro Fallabrino.
Upcycling waste can create new ways to prevent more from being created! Photo credit: XS Project.
SHOW ALLHIDE ALL

Reading Between the Lines: Marine Education for Georgia Children

With a grant awarded by the Southeast Atlantic Marine Debris Initiative (SEA-MDI), MAREX and Georgia Sea Grant developed marine debris education programs geared towards third graders. Centering around the sources and impacts of marine debris, the programs presented multi-media readings of The Flying Debris, an original story in which marine animals living on an island of trash teach children lessons about local and global marine stewardship.

Project staff visited public and elementary school libraries and brought unique custom-built book displays created by local artists to libraries in Clarke, Oconee, Glynn and Macintosh Counties and provided grade-appropriate teaching materials aligned with state science standards. Each participating library received a complementary set of children’s books on marine debris, Georgia marine life and recycling.

Focusing on impacts to Georgia’s coastal and ocean ecosystems, the program provided hands-on examples of how local actions can have far-reaching consequences. Children examined ocean samples collected from the North Pacific Gyre and received interactive demonstrations using up-cycled products made from debris in Indonesia.

Children who attended the book readings received a free copy of The Flying Debris along with other materials to help them reduce their use of disposable plastics.

Contacts

Katy Smith

Water Quality Program Coordinator, Brunswick Station
Email: klaustin@uga.edu
Phone: 912-262-3338