icon of a person removing trash

Lend a Hand with Trash Removal
Keep their home clean.

Garbage that becomes marine debris is one of the most significant threats to marine wildlife. You can help to keep the ocean clean by refusing and/or reusing plastics and styrofoam. Plastic pollution breaks down into smaller pieces called microplastics. Each year, microplastics as part of the billions of pounds of pollutants and garbage, enter the ocean ands wreak havoc on wildlife

Birds sit on fishing nets on a sandbar

Many fishing nets such as this one are made of plastic and can entangle birds and other wildlife.

Photo: NOAA

Litter can harm wildlife in many ways. When wildlife ingest garbage, it may block their airways or fill up their stomachs, causing them to choke or starve to death. Animals can also become entangled in the debris, which hinders their ability to move freely, causing some to drown, or may cut into their skin and cause an infection. Helping out can be as easy as properly disposing of your garbage, recycling when possible and picking up any trash you find.

Four people removing fishing nets from the beach

A cleanup crew removes buried fishing nets from a beach in Hawaii. Derelict fishing gear makes up a large portion of trash that is removed each year, but so do everyday items like plastic bottles and cups. You can do your part by always disposing of your trash properly.

Photo: Kristen Kelly/NOAA

Sea otter floating on its back with a plastic tarp draped across its stomach

Wildlife are not accustomed to garbage in their environments. This means that when they do come across a piece of trash, they may mistake it for food or try to play with it, like this sea otter. This can lead to the animal becoming entangled in the garbage or ingesting it, both of which can be fatal.

Photo: Douglas Croft

Additional Resources

icon of binoculars

Take the Pledge

Respect. Protect. Enjoy.