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Trash Talk: What Is Marine Debris?

3 minutes

(Describer) Under a round logo of a wave, title: Ocean Today. In an animation, garbage flies out of a can into water. Title: Trash Talk.

(woman) What is marine debris?

(Describer) Asma Mahdi:

Have you ever noticed litter at the beach, like plastic bottles or foam containers on the sand? Maybe you've been to a river or bay where there's a bag or car tire in the mud, or a bunch of deflated balloons floating in the water. Junk in water or on the shoreline is marine debris. It's anything solid and manmade in the ocean or Great Lakes that shouldn't be there. Anything people use every day can become marine debris if they don't dispose of it properly. And I mean anything.

(Describer) ...like a toy cat.

The most common items we find when we do shoreline cleanups are plastics. But we also find rubber, cloth, glass, metal, and paper litter. Sometimes the debris is so tiny, like a plastic microbead from your face wash, that you can barely see it. Marine debris is more than just ocean trash. Sometimes, fishers lose gear, like fishing traps, nets, or fishing line. It continues to drift through the water, catching animals, for a long time. We call that derelict fishing gear, and it's marine debris. Have you ever seen an old boat on a shoreline? Abandoned and derelict vessels are also marine debris. Let's review-- Anything we use every day can become debris if not disposed of properly or if it goes in the water. Marine debris can be very small, or it can be very big, and anything in between. But most importantly, marine debris is one of the biggest pollution problems facing oceans and waterways today.

(Describer) Logos are shown for the Smithsonian and NOAA. Accessibility provided by the US Department of Education.

Accessibility provided by the U.S. Department of Education.

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Anything people use every day can become marine debris if its is not disposed of properly, and the most common items found during shoreline cleanups are plastics. Sometimes the debris is so tiny that it can barely be seen in the water. Marine debris is more than just trash in the ocean. Part of the "Trash Talk" series.

Media Details

Runtime: 3 minutes

Trash Talk
Episode 1
2 minutes
Grade Level: 7 - 12
Trash Talk
Episode 2
2 minutes
Grade Level: 7 - 12
Trash Talk
Episode 3
3 minutes
Grade Level: 7 - 12
Trash Talk
Episode 4
2 minutes
Grade Level: 7 - 12
Trash Talk
Episode 5
3 minutes
Grade Level: 7 - 12
Trash Talk
Episode 6
3 minutes
Grade Level: 7 - 12