Leave only waves and footprints behind

Loggerhead turtle rescue

A Loggerhead turtle rests aboard a Coast Guard Station Cape Charles 25-foot Response Boat after being freed from a line of a crab pot marker that was tied around its neck, May 22, 2011. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Fireman Wade Giarratano.

“Pack it in, Pack it out”
is a familiar expression used by hikers, backpackers and scouts as a reminder that whatever is brought into a natural area must also be taken out.

Pacific marine debris

Coast Guard Cutter Walnut crewmembers recover derelict fishnet from Lisianski Island and the Pearl and Hermes Reefs. Currents in the Pacific bring marine debris and adrift gear to Hawaiian waters. U.S. Coast Guard photo.

This principle equally applies to the maritime environment.

We all play a role in protecting our environment and have a responsibility to properly dispose of trash and waste. Bottles, cans, grocery bags, cigarette filters, spilled gasoline, fishing line and other miscellaneous items thrown or blown into our oceans and waterways is unsightly and hazardous. Turtle, birds, fish and other marine life can become entangled and drown or ingest these items causing starvation and possibly even death. Further, debris poses obvious dangers to barefoot beachgoers and boat propellers as well as affects the beauty and cleanliness of our coastline impacting tourism and coastal businesses.

If you see trash or litter, and can safely remove it without putting yourself or others in danger, pick it up.

Marine Debris Tracker application icon

Marine Debris Tracker application icon

One innovative way the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Marine Debris Program is tackling this problem in the United States is by tapping into the power of smartphone users. Recently, NOAA released a free application called Marine Debris Tracker. When users spot debris, they can pinpoint the location using the phone’s GPS and report it using the application.  The information provided helps local officials make decisions about how to handle marine trash.

Give the app a try and be part of the solution to keep our coastline and waterway clean. Remember “Pack it in, Pack it out” and leave only waves and footprints behind.

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