It’s in the best Palauan tradition to give your home a good cleaning around the holiday season, so this year, why not include your beach and mangrove areas?
More than often, marine debris has been washing up on Palau’s shorelines. Marine debris consists of pieces of large or small plastics, metals, wood, glass, fishing gear, foam, or other materials that circulate and accumulate in the world’s oceans. How does it get there? It is caused by natural disasters and inefficient disposal methods which bring these items from the land to the seas – its people’s things!
This year, the Ebiil Society, Inc. began a volunteer marine debris monitoring program at the turtle nesting grounds in Ngerkeklau. The purpose is to clean the habitats of turtles, Palau megapode, sea snakes, and other creatures living on the island. Just like people, these species need clean homes to live and raise their families. So far, there have been seven recorded marine debris data collections. The marine debris was sorted and counted, and uploaded to the NOAA web site and recently, Ebiil Society has been awarded a small grant from the NOAA Marine Debris Program.
A total of 4,550 pieces of marine debris items were collected, from large nets balls to small pieces of plastic and foam. The most common items were plastic beverage bottles (960 pieces), foam fragments (708), hard plastic fragments (477), foam & plastic cups (475), and flip-flops (410). The danger of these items floating at sea is that they take hundreds of years to break down. Tiny pieces called microplastics form “smog” in the ocean that is a danger to marine life, from the smallest organisms to marine mammals and birds when it enters the food chain.
While marine debris may seem like an enormous challenge, the positive solutions can begin in the home. Firstly, reduce the amount of one-time-use plastics including grocery bags, straws, plastic drinking bottles, and other items. Secondly seek recycling sources. From the most recent clean-up at Ngerkeklau, Ebiil Society was able to recycle 1.5kg of glass bottles and 4.5kg of plastic bottles (under 32oz) through the Koror State Solid Waste Management Program. And beginning from your home, you can recycle even more.
We wish you Happy Holidays from Ebiil Society, and if you would like more information, please call our office at 488-4447. [/restrict]