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Kenai Fjords Tackles Trash – One Bottle at a Time

Ranger Soren displays a discarded plastic bottle retrieved from Bulldog Cove beach in Kenai Fjords National Park. NPS Photo/Chelsea Grobelny

Broken Styrofoam, plastic water bottles, and abandoned boat hulls were among the discarded items park staff encountered on Kenai Fjords National Park beaches during a recent marine debris survey. Despite its remote location, man-made refuse is a constant presence on the Kenai Fjords coastline, as it is across the globe. Beyond cluttering otherwise pristine areas, marine debris can be detrimental to wildlife, both directly through entanglement and strangulation, and indirectly as it breaks down and enters the food web.

A ranger holds a handfull of tiny styrofoam pieces picked up from the beach.
Styrofoam breaks up into miniscule pieces that are nearly impossible to pick up, and ultimately breakdown, entering the marine food web. NPS Photo/Chelsea Grobelny

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In an effort to curb the problem, Kenai Fjords National Park has participated in NOAA’s nation-wide Marine Debris Accumulation Surveys since 2013. In addition to trash removal, these surveys document the types and amount of debris found in multiple preset locations. This detailed data provides park management and the public valuable information about the origin and distribution patterns of park debris. Ultimately it will be integrated into NOAA’s national database, as a part of its Marine Debris Program. This program supports research projects across the country that address the causes and effects of marine debris and mitigate its impacts. Park staff will return to these same beaches later in the season to conduct a more comprehensive cleanup.

 

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