- Researchers from the University of Miami have launched a project in Biscayne Bay that could help improve the understanding of how trash enters local waterways, as reported by the Miami Herald.
- The team has deployed 15 floating sensors — the same kind they used when studying effects of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill — that will relay their positions every five minutes. This will help track the patterns and speeds of currents which can spread waste.
- Volunteers also painted 320 floating "drift cards" which were released into the water. Researchers are asking people who find these cards on beaches to report their location and upload photos to Instagram with the hashtag #BayDrift.
Like in many waterfront cities, Miami has a number of rivers, outfall pipes and other water sources that carry waste into the bay. Yet tracking how this all works together has been challenging.
While the project won't immediately fix the pollution problem, researchers say it will greatly improve their understanding of the local water system and help inform future decisions on the placement of drainage pipes or other infrastructure. Adding the citizen science component is also seen as a way to raise public awareness and eventually reduce the amount of waste.
Rotterdam recently deployed "waste shark" drones to collect material in its port and multiple collection wheels are in the works for harbor areas. Cleaning up ocean plastic and other debris remains a high priority and the growing number of innovative coastal projects are helping to mitigate the issue at its source.