We are so grateful for such a successful marine debris mission in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands! We collected plastic buoys, foam buoys, plastic nets, oyster spacers, tires, pallets, plastic utensils, bowls, lighters, bottle caps, laundry baskets, plastic toys, shoes, beverage and other plastic bottles and jugs, as well as an abundance of plastic fragments—and brought it all back to Honolulu to repurpose and recycle. The mission would not have been possible without everyone’s support, from the administration, to the funders, to the students who have helped us along this journey every step of the way. What better way to express our gratitude than through outreach events?
As soon as we returned, our team started sorting the debris we collected and staging it at the NOAA Inouye Regional Center in Honolulu for outreach events. Congratulations to the students from Mililani High School, who came up with more than 100 questions and solutions relating to marine debris—they won a field trip to visit us and all the debris! Of course, a great mahalo (thank you) to the other local schools that participated in the contest and the students and teachers that took time in their busy schedules to share our passions and concerns about marine debris. We hope our time with you was valuable and inspiring.
Our first outreach event with Mililani High School was held on November 2, 2018. To introduce this event, our fearless leader, Kevin O’Brien, gave a short introduction to the marine debris project and the scope of our work. From that point on, we split the students into two groups: 1) at an arts and crafts station and 2) sorting giant bags of marine debris that we collected on our mission.
At the arts and crafts station, the students had the option to create a mosaic out of small plastics or create decorations and holiday ornaments out of small plastic fishing floats. The first group chose to create a mosaic of their school symbol, while the second group chose to dive into the small, hard floats pile and paint new works of art.
At the marine debris sorting station, the students were very quick and enthusiastic. They immediately appointed data managers to record the debris piles, while the rest of the groups ambitiously began sorting through and organizing the debris. They were so fast and efficient that they ended up sorting through three massive piles of debris in just 45 minutes!