New cell phone app allows beachgoers to report marine debris

May 17, 2011 By Jill Gambill

With summer around the corner, millions worldwide will head to pristine beaches and waterways. However, with items such as bottles, cans and other debris washing up on U.S. shores each year, the University of Georgia and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, or NOAA, have teamed up to create a new, innovative cell phone reporting mechanism to combat the marine debris problem.

The Southeast Atlantic Marine Debris Initiative, or SEA-MDI, housed at UGA and a critical part of a partnership with the NOAA Marine Debris Program, hopes to empower citizens in protecting their beaches and through a newly launched that tracks where debris is accumulating.

The tool is important for engaging with beachgoers and stakeholders and is geared at giving the public another way to be a part of the marine debris solution globally, said Jenna Jambeck, assistant professor of environmental engineering in the UGA Faculty of Engineering and one of the ’s developers.

Available through iTunes and the Android Market, the easy-to-use Marine Debris Tracker app can be downloaded for use on iPhones and Android phones. The simple tool allows users to report and record the type and location of debris through GPS features pre-installed on a . The data submitted is posted on an interactive website (www.marinedebris.engr.uga.edu) that allows data to be viewed and downloaded for users to design plans to prevent marine debris.

Jambeck said the app is one way the initiative is trying to reach people and raise awareness of marine debris. “If you are noticing marine debris, you are also much less likely to litter,” she said. “While this app collects data, one of its primary goals is to educate the public about marine debris and its harmful impacts.”

“We are very excited about the innovative products that have resulted from our partnership with the University of Georgia,” said David Holst, acting director of the NOAA Marine Debris Program. “This app brings the issue into the forefront and empowers the public to take a proactive step in mitigating the problem.”

Marine debris kills wildlife through ingestion and entanglement. It also can have an economic impact on the tourism industry and other coastal businesses by affecting the aesthetics of beaches and . Jambeck and co-developer Kyle Johnsen, assistant professor of computer systems engineering in the UGA Faculty of Engineering, hope that the Marine Debris Tracker tool will help officials make decisions about how to mitigate marine debris, from supplying more comprehensive waste management, such as trash cans, to providing recycling and disposal opportunities for fishing gear.

SEA-MDI (http://sea-mdi.engr.uga.edu/) is a new regional partnership between the NOAA Marine Debris Program and a consortium of organizations in Georgia, South Carolina and North Carolina. The initiative aims to create collaborative regional strategies that address prevention, reduction and mitigation.

Explore further: Measuring phosphorus loss from Midwest crop fields

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Marine debris will likely worsen in the 21st century

Sep 19, 2008

Current measures to prevent and reduce marine debris are inadequate, and the problem will likely worsen, says a new congressionally mandated report from the National Research Council. The United States and the international ...

Russia wants to build 'Sweeper' to clean up space debris

Nov 30, 2010

Russia is looking to build a $2 billion orbital "pod" that would sweep up satellite debris from space around the Earth. According to a post on the Russian Federal Space Agency, Roscosmos' Facebook site, (which ...

Ingestion of plastic found among small ocean fish

Mar 11, 2011

Southern California researchers have found evidence of ingestion of plastic among small fish in the northern Pacific Ocean in a study that they say shows the troubling effect floating litter is having on marine life in the ...

Robotic glider to map Moreton Bay impacts

Jan 20, 2011

A $200,000 CSIRO coastal glider is bound for Queensland to be deployed in Moreton Bay to investigate the impact of the recent flooding on marine ecosystems.

Recommended for you

Measuring phosphorus loss from Midwest crop fields

1 hour ago

Field runoff from farms in the Lake Erie basin is often rich in soluble plant nutrients, including phosphorus. When this nutrient-rich runoff reaches the lake, the phosphorus can support abundant algal blooms ...

FACT CHECK: Both sides in Keystone XL debate bend facts

14 hours ago

Supporters of the Keystone XL pipeline, which would run from Canada to the Gulf, say the privately funded, $8 billion project is a critically needed piece of infrastructure that will create thousands of jobs ...

Sao Paulo warns of severe water rationing

16 hours ago

Authorities in Sao Paulo, Brazil's richest state and economic hub, have warned they are considering severe water rationing if the country's worst drought in 80 years continues.

Refineries challenge EPA plan to cut emissions

19 hours ago

A rule proposed by the Environmental Protection Agency that aims to curb emissions from oil refineries and petrochemical manufacturers is causing tensions to flare between the agency and industry groups. The agency is reviewing ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.