The Science of Earth Day – Marine Debris Resources

Photo Credit: New England Science and Sailing.

In Reach Module 6 – Marine Debris, students investigate how trash finds its way into our waterways and oceans. By exploring watersheds, tides, and currents students begin to understand how the water moves and where floating debris ends up. They change their behavior as they hunt for marine debris while on the water or participate in shoreline cleanup. Sooner or later they have that ah ha moment and come to the realization that trash in the street gets blown in the water or washed down a storm drain and may end up in our waters for hundreds or thousands of years. What about the animals that live in the water? What if I just pick it up and put it in the trash? As a result, sailing programs and instructors are leading the way for our future environmental stewards.

Many Reach programs are implementing a few simple practices in their programming that you can share too.

5 Steps to Healthy Waterways and Clean Oceans

1.    Always use a reusable water bottle.
2.    Reduce the amount of trash you use.
3.    Recycle.
4.    Participate in beach or waterway cleanups.
5.    Think globally and act locally – you make a difference!


Create Citizen Scientists – Rozalia Project for a Clean Ocean

Rozalia Snip

Implement regular cleanups at your sailing center and ask the students to record what type of debris is collected. Discuss the data with your students.

“What did we find the most of – plastic utensils, microplastic, or styrofoam?

Why do you think the data shows that (cause)?

When you are finished, mail your completed data card (below) to Rozalia Project for a Clean Ocean and they will add your data to other nationally collected data.

More Information about Rozalia Project for a Clean Ocean


What is the Great Pacific Garbage Patch? #NOAATrash Talk



While higher concentrations of litter items can be found in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, along with other debris such as derelict fishing nets, much of the debris is actually small pieces of floating plastic that are not immediately evident to the naked eye.

It is possible to sail through the “garbage patch” area and see very little or no debris on the water’s surface. It is also difficult to estimate the size of these “patches,” because the borders and content constantly change with ocean currents and winds.
Regardless of the exact size, mass, and location of the “garbage patch,” man-made debris does not belong in our oceans and waterways and must be addressed.

NOAA’s National Ocean Service
Executive Producer, OCEAN TODAY


Hear from our Reach Experts at Team Marine and Heal the Bay