Marine Debris: Cause, Effect, and Prevention


[slow music]
[ocean waves] Narrator: Earth’s oceans are the habitat for
more than two-hundred thousand known species. But man’s activities on land threaten the
lives of these aquatic creatures. One of the biggest dangers to ocean life is marine debris.
RENEE SEARFOSS, USEPA MID-ATLANTIC COASTAL TEAM LEADER: Marine debris is anything that
doesn’t belong in the ocean, and that’s mostly any type of man-made material.
Narrator: Each year, plastic bags, bottles, cans and other debris enter our coastal waters
from our inland rivers and streams. This debris pollutes our waters and poses a serious threat
to aquatic animals. This debris was found in the stomach of a loggerhead turtle in the
Mid-Atlantic ocean. RENEE SEARFOSS, USEPA MID-ATLANTIC COASTAL
TEAM LEADER: We are concerned about marine organisms or mammals ingesting this debris
and it causing any problems from impacting their digestive system so that they are full of
plastic and they can’t pass it and therefore they can’t eat and they basically die from starvation.
[upbeat music] Narrator: Gathering information and analyzing
data are essential parts of marine resource protection. The Environmental Protection Agency
collects data in the ocean to protect human health, support economic and recreational
activities, and to influence actions that safeguard healthy habitats for aquatic wildlife,
including the fish we catch and eat. BILL RICHARDSON, USEPA SCIENTIST: The value
of the data is to monitor the ocean’s water quality long term, to make sure we’re not
degrading the quality of the ocean waters and a lot of the things we do on land will
affect the water quality out at sea. So if we could pick up changes out in the ocean,
we could help modify some of our practices on land.
Narrator: Helpful practices on land include proper trash disposal, and the recycling of
plastic bottles, bags, and cans. RENEE SEARFOSS, USEPA MID-ATLANTIC COASTAL
TEAM LEADER: There aren’t a lot of creatures out here that can really defend against anything
we tend to throw in the oceans at them. People at home can do simple things all it costs
is some consideration in terms of where they put their trash.
[music fades] [ocean waves fade]

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