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Sailors Help Improve Data Collection on Floating Marine Debris

As Bruce Balan and Alene Rice have sailed thousands of miles aboard their Cross 46 Migration, it’s reasonable to assume they have seen more marine debris floating on the ocean than the average person. It’s therefore no surprise that they received an email inviting them to help collect data on the debris they encounter at sea. Bruce forwarded the email to us at Latitude 38 so we could share the message and invite more sailors to participate.

Collect data on debris
Bruce Balan and Alene Rice are doing their part to help collect data for the FRONTAL project.
© 2020 s/v Migration

The program, supported by the European Space Agency, is being run by a team of scientists from the FRONTAL project team at Plymouth Marine Laboratory. The team’s aim is to try to “understand to what extent satellites can detect floating marine debris.” To achieve this they are collating observations at sea and matching them to satellite images.

Plastic jumble
Abandoned fishing nets account for a large portion of the debris floating in the ocean.
© 2020 Ocean Voyages Institute

Here’s how you can help:
If you see debris from your boat, during a beach walk, or even on a social media post, share the details using the Floating Marine Plastic Debris Accumulation Reporting Tool. It’s a very long name, but a very brief survey.

Here’s the link: Floating Marine Plastic Debris Accumulation Reporting Tool. The survey will run until summer 2021.

Bruce has already begun his observations and sent us this little list of tips:

1. They are interested in debris patches — 2 meters across and larger.
2. The reporting form currently asks for latitude and longitude in decimal degrees.

Bruce has written the team to ask if they can accept degrees and decimal minutes, but at the time of his email to us, he hadn’t received a reply.

So, now you know what to do. Observe, and fill in the survey. Everything we as individuals do to help science monitor and understand ocean debris will surely ultimately contribute to the solution.

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