The Healthy Habitats and Oceans program (H2O) tackles the rising threat of marine debris in Florida’s aquatic environments. H2O educates the public about marine debris through visits to schools, nature centers, and environmental events. We also conduct monthly beach cleanups in Palm Beach County which, coupled with our virtual learning opportunities, inspires environmental stewardship.
Healthy Habitats and Oceans (H2O) Program
Our scientists have witnessed the impacts of marine debris during our decades of work in the southeastern United States and the Caribbean. Shorelines and waterways strewed with litter and abandoned fishing gear lead to the deaths of sea turtles, manatees, dolphins, and North Atlantic right whales. Marine debris consists primarily of plastics and has been increasing dramatically.
Since much of this is preventable, CMA Research Institute launched H2O: Healthy Habitats & Oceans, an educational outreach and direct-action program targeting those audiences with the power to prevent and reduce marine debris: students, the fishing, and boating community, and the public. To reach this audience, the program utilized a mobile marine classroom (a vehicle outfitted with interactive educational exhibits) to conduct visits to middle and high schools and coastal community festivals. We also sponsor beach cleanups every month at Boynton Inlet in Palm Beach County.
Since our mobile classroom is currently out of commission, we now offer new, free virtual learning experiences for anyone interested. Our goal is to inspire change in personal habits and reduce the amount of single-use plastics we use as a society.
H2O has been On the Go since 2015!
Here are just a few of our accomplishments:
- Educated 8,000 students about marine debris
- Visited 40 schools with the Mobile Classroom
- Hosted 66 beach cleanups with 3,500 volunteers
- Removed 8,000 pounds of debris from Florida beaches
- Engaged nearly 16,000 people at 55 community events
- Presented 20 educational lectures to 800 people
More than 25,000 have learned about the impacts of marine debris!
Contact us today about your next environmental outreach opportunity!
Promoting Public Awareness
- Join us at a beach cleanup at Boynton Inlet every 3rd Saturday from 8 to 10:30 am!
- Check out our virtual learning resources here!
- Schools, nature centers, community events: We’re available for tabling, presentations, and other outreach activities. Please contact us at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Marine Debris Facts
- Marine debris is material manufactured or processed and directly or indirectly, intentionally or unintentionally disposed of or abandoned into the marine environment or the Great Lakes.
- 80% of marine litter is land-based while an estimated 20% is ocean-based.
- Debris threatens all species of marine life.
- Entanglement affects over 260 marine species worldwide.
- Sea turtles, marine mammals, fish, and seabirds often mistake marine debris for food.
- Ingestion can lead to malnutrition and starvation as debris collects in the stomach and causes animals to feel full. It can also prevent proper nutrient absorption.
- Some marine plastics are made of toxic chemicals that can cause reproductive issues and death when ingested.
- Ecosystems can be damaged by ghost nets, plastic bags, and derelict fishing gear, permanently altering the environment.
- Marine debris can contribute to the migration of invasive species through “rafting” which allows non-natives to travel great distances and invade new ecosystems.