Fourteen metric tons of debris was recently recovered from the coastal waters of Midway Atoll, a tiny island near Hawaii's main island. The Coral Reef Ecosystem Division of NOAA’s Pacific Islands Fisheries Center sent out a team of oceanographers and divers to thwart the debris from impacting the fragile coral reef ecosystem.
Comparing the weight of the garbage to that of an 18-wheeler truck, the team said they found vast amounts of fishing industry debris and various plastics. The largest object they found was a vessel measuring seven feet long that is believed to have been swept there following Japan’s March 2011 earthquake and tsunami.
NOAA scientists lay cause on marine debris and discarded fishing gear for considerable damage to coral reefs. Trash and fishing gear can become lodged in coral as well as snap or smother the delicate habitat. Not only are the scientists there to prevent immediate damage but they are determined to understand the long-term implications that marine debris has upon habitats and marine life.
Midway Atoll is close to the well-known Pacific Garbage Patch, which, by some estimates, is twice the size of Texas and to the lesser-known Eastern Garbage Patch, an area between California and Hawaii.
|The NOAA team collected an astounding 14 metric tons of garbage from waters near Midway Atoll|