Category Archives: Marine Debris

Trash and Microplastics in the Delaware Estuary

The DRBC’s Monitoring Advisory Coordinating Committee (MACC) and the Partnership for the Delaware Estuary held their annual joint meeting on Tuesday, March 8.

I presented this slide show at the meeting to encourage DRBC and the Partnership for the Delaware Estuary to begin to address plastic trash as a serious water quality challenge for the Delaware Estuary.

Del_Esturay_Plastics_3_8_16_cover

 

The presentation pdf is here 

Plastic Debris along Schuylkill Banks in Fairmount Park

The Schuylkill River through Fairmount Park is one of Philadelphia’s treasures.  Unfortunately, upstream stormwater runoff carries trash to the Schuylkill River,  where some gets caught on the River banks while the rest continues to flow downriver to the Delaware River and Bay.

This Schuylkill River bank trash survey was conducted on the West bank from the dam to Girard Ave bridge on 4/7/15.

There is a significant quantity of plastic debris along the shore line caught in the vegetation along the bank .

 

Plastic in the Oceans – NBC News Video

Here’s NBC news report on recent study about plastic in our oceans (link)

NBC_news

Here is the link to the original article. The lead author is  Marcus Eriksen, PhD, Director of Research for the 5 Gyres Institute.

This study is comparable to the work by the Sea Education Associations ocean plastic discussed here.

 

Tidal Delaware River Stormwater Plastic Trash Survey

I have been surveying stormwater plastic trash along the banks of Philadelphia area creeks and rivers to assess the impact of Philadelphia’s street litter on our receiving waters. My overall survey plan is shown in this map:

Phila_area_litter

This post reports on photo surveys of site 4 (General Pulaski Park) and site 5 (Penn Treaty Park).

Del_River_sites

 

General Pulaski Park,  with its very limited river front, has stormwater trash  in the southeast corner of the Park along the river front, as shown in this photo.

Photo by Kelly O'Day

Penn Treaty Park is a 9.7 acre waterfront park with nearly 1,100 feet of accessible river front that can be viewed during low tide.

Penn_Teraty_Park_Survey_site

 

Tidal Schuylkill Banks Trash Assessment @ Bartram’s Garden

United By Blue is a wonderful local Philadelphia company that is working hard to cleanup creek – river trash. Bartram’s Garden, along the Schuylkill River, has been one of their  cleanup sites so I decided to check out the bank trash for myself.

I 1st visited Bartram’s  on 8/10 and made a repeat visit on 9/3. Here is a slide show of my bank trash findings along the Bartram’s Garden’s 3,000 foot stretch of tidal Schuylkill River bank.
(Click any slide to start show. Press x in upper left corner to return to post)

PDF available here.

Yes Philadelphia, in addition to the Tacony-Frankford Creek, we have a Schuylkill River trash problem. Plastic bottle-food wrappers-food container litter is being carried to the River by run-off during rain storms upstream of Philadelphia and in the City.

Our plastic trash is building up on our shore lines and in the N Atlantic gyre.

N_Atlantic_plastic_density

Plastic street litter is a serious water pollution problem that we must through product controls, litter prevention, street cleaning and waterway cleanups. Right now we are losing the fight against marine debris.

 

Into the Gyre Film Screening – Sept. 6

The Sea Education Association (SEA) has been studying plastic accumulation in the North  Atlantic for many years. Into the Gyre is a 44 minute documentary about a 5 week expedition to the North Atlantic sub-tropical gyre, east of Bermuda. This brief trailer gives a taste for the full documentary.

Pa Senator Daylin Lynch is holding a free film screening and panel discussion of Into the Gyre on Saturday, September 6 from 10:45 – noon at the Bryn Mawr Film Institute. RSVP information on this event notice.

Film_Screening_Flyer (2)

Atlantic Ocean Plastic Trash Patch and Philadelphia’s Stormwater Trash

Philadelphia stormwater carries much of the City’s plastic street litter to our local creeks, Delaware River, Delaware Bay and some of it makes it all the way to the North Atlantic Garbage Patch. This map of plastic concentrations in the North Atlantic has been constructed from 6136 surface tows conducted by the Sea Education Association (SEA) from 1986 to 2008. Dr. Kara Law’s Sept. 3, 2010 Science article is available here. (Phila. location added to original for geographic reference)

N_Atlantic_plastic_density

 

This map shows the variation and extent of plastic debris accumulation in the North Atlantic. Some areas have 0 pieces per square kilometer (km2) while other areas have levels of 50,000 – 100,000 pieces /km2. Oceanographers attribute much of the variation to differences in ocean current velocities as shown in this map of near real time currents available here.

atlantic_ocean_currents

This map shows color coded ocean current velocities, with blue colors near 0 meters/ sec and red for fast currents of 1 meter/sec. The impact of the Gulf Stream is quite apparent and numerous low velocity eddy areas are also apparent.

If you look at the SEA map you will see a black contour line  which is the 2 cm per second contour of the 10-year (1993 to 2002) mean surface circulation velocity. 2 cm  per second (equivalent to 0.045 miles per hour), is a very slow velocity which enables plastic debris accumulation in these low velocity eddy areas.

SEA estimates that the Atlantic plastic patch has 800 million pieces of plastic with a low end gross weight estimate of 1,210 tons (2.4 million pounds).

What is Philadelphia’s contribution to the N Atlantic plastic trash patch?

We don’t know. We do now that Philadelphia street litter plastic makes its way to the Tookany-Tacony-Frankford Creek (link, link, link) , Schuylkill  and Delaware Rivers based on visual evidence along the creek-river banks.  We know the New Jersey and Delaware River communities downriver of Philadelphia  have trash problems along their waterfronts and we know that plastic has a very long life in the marine environment, so that it is logical to assume that some of Philadelphia’s plastic litter is contributing to the N Atlantic plastic patch.

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