Marine Debris

North Carolina Coastal Federation

The North Carolina Coastal Federation through a competitive grant program has been hiring watermen as well as encouraging volunteers to remove marine debris from North Carolina marshes where more than 300 tons of wood, paper, glass, metal and plastic were recovered from the marshes of Topsail Island!

Read about the NCCF Marine Debris program

Image courtesy NCCF

Unencapsulated Polystyrene

Polystyrene is a petroleum product, commonly known as Styrofoam. It is often used in dock floats because of its buoyancy. It is neither readily recyclable nor biodegradable and takes hundreds of years to degrade in the environment. When exposed to the elements, it fragments into unsightly, small, non- biodegradable pieces that may be ingested by marine life, wild and domestic water birds, and other wildlife. When ingested, the polystyrene fragments may block the digestive system of birds and animals, killing them through starvation. Aquatic and land mammals, other organisms, and nesting rodents hasten the fragmentation of polystyrene by forming nests in, under or on top of the material when seasonally stored on land. Photo courtesy of Joe Huie

The deterioration of larger polystyrene floats into beads and smaller pieces create a pollution line along shorelines, intertidal land, and other places where buoyant debris collects, which is a form of pollution and increases the chances of ingestion by water-dependent mammals and birds. Such pollution must be picked up and removed at the expense of the public and private citizens. To prevent such degradation, pollution and hazard to water-dependent mammals and birds, polystyrene floats may be encapsulated in a hard polyethylene shell, which prevents the deterioration and spread of beads and smaller sections of polystyrene floats. Photo courtesy of Joe Huie

Floating Docks


What are Microplastics? Microplastics are plastic synthetics made from fossil fuels or biomass that are less than 5 mm in diameter.

Microplastics in SE North Carolina

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s