Pollution

Humans take a huge toll on the environment in a variety of forms. Small plastic pieces make their way to the ocean where they are consumed by fish. Oils spills occur and nutrient runoff can have a huge impact on coastal ecosystems.

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Oil Drilling Platform in the Gulf of Mexico

DIVE DEEPER

Gulf Oil Spill

The Gulf oil spill is recognized as the worst oil spill in U.S. history. Within days of the April 20, 2010 explosion and...
A brittle star clings to the branches of a deep sea coral

A Brittle Star May Be a Coral’s Best Friend

A brittle star wraps its arms around the branches of a deep sea octocoral. The coral's polyps are all open and extended, a sign that the coral is unbothered by the sea star. Credit:...

Turning Nets Into Carpet

There are many plastic nets floating in the world's ocean. Some of them were lost at sea by fishers; others were discarded overboard when they ripped or became tangled. Regardless, once they are adrift,...

Impacts of Marine Debris

Human-created debris finds its way to some of the most remote corners of the globe – even at the bottom of the ocean. Many ocean creatures injest and get entangled in the plastics, rubbers...
Black Axil Chromis on a Coral Reef

Fish Get Risky Around Oil

On coral reefs fish are important links in the food chain that sustains higher-order predators (including humans) and keeps everything in balance. Credit: Paul Asman and Jill Lenoble, Flickr By Kalila Morsink Whether you...

Oil’s Impact on Marine Invertebrates

In the aftermath of the Gulf oil spill, what is the effect of oil on invertebrates like jellyfish, clams, crabs, sea stars, and plankton? The scope of the damage is more easily observed among...

Introduction - TRASH TALK

NOAA Ocean Today Every Full Moon explores the issue of marine debris. According to NOAA, marine debris is "any persistent solid material that is manufactured or processed and directly or indirectly, intentionally or unintentionally,...
A beaked whale at the ocean's surface

Seeing with Sound: Acoustic monitoring of beaked whales can help determine oil spill impacts

A Gervais' beaked whale comes up to the surface to take a quick breath. Credit: NOAA By L.K. Ward and Danielle Hall When compared to dolphins and large baleen whales, beaked whales lose a...

Seagrasses and Light in the Chesapeake Bay

Seagrasses growing on the seafloor of the Chesapeake Bay rely on light to grow—but, thanks to pollution, that sunlight has become more scarce. Nutrient runoff from fertilizers causes microscopic algae (phytoplankton) to grow rapidly...
Satellite view of the Gulf Coast oil spill off of Louisiana, April 29, 2010.

State of Emergency in the Gulf

The explosion of Deepwater Horizon, an oil-drilling platform roughly 50 miles off the coast of Louisiana, is quickly growing into an environmental disaster that will leave its mark on coastal communities, fisheries, wildlife, and...
Students share a microscope to get a closer look at plankton samples from the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill.

A Current Event in the Classroom: Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill

Students share a microscope to get a closer look at plankton samples from the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill. Credit: Seaberry Nachbar, NOAA National Marine Sanctuaries Sometimes, a tragic event can become a powerful teaching...
Photograph of an oiled brown pelican squatting on the beach.

Animals and the Oil Spill: What Can You Do?

A brown pelican, the Louisiana state bird, stands mired in oil in East Grand Terre on June 3, 2010. Credit: Office of the Governor of the State of Louisiana Lately we’ve been fielding questions...

Dr. Nancy Rabalais: Troubled Waters in the Gulf of Mexico

The Deepwater Horizon oil spill brought the world’s attention to the Gulf of Mexico and raised awareness of the region’s chronic loss of wetlands and the massive dead zone caused by excess nutrients from...
A photo of plastic trash floating in the water, taken from below the surface.

Witness to a Plastic Invasion

The Smithsonian Institution's Dive Officer documents a "swirling monster" of plastic trash that she encountered while diving in Belize. It blew in for two solid days: a flotilla of plastic forks, soda bottles, rubber...

The Oil Spill, Two Years Later

Mark Dodd, a wildlife biologist from Georgia's Department of Natural Resources, surveying oiled sargassum seaweed in the Gulf of Mexico after the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in 2010. Credit: Georgia Department of Natural Resources...

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