Plastic Debris on the Georgia Coast

Numerous reports in the media and scientific literature have noted plastics washing up on coastal beaches and marshes with much of this debris originating from land-based activities. Because of an increased numbers of visitor and residents along the coast, there is an increasing accumulation of plastics and other debris on the beaches and marshes of coastal Georgia. A recent report submitted by one of the PIs (R. Lee) to Georgia DNR reviewed various data bases to determine the areal extent of plastic debris at various beach/marsh sites in coastal Georgia. For example, Wassaw National Wildlife Refuge, which is often visited by thousands of day visitors each year, had up to 81kg plastic debris/month on its beaches. Other more remote and less visited beaches also had significant plastic accumulation, suggesting the importance of plastics carried from coastal and inland waters. The goal of the present proposal is to provide educational outreach on the input of plastic debris on coastal shorelines and the importance of plastics research and volunteer cleanups through brochures, power point presentations and plastic debris learning activities. The proposed project will utilize ongoing education programs (summer camps, visiting school groups and special events) at the University of Georgia Marine Education Center and Aquarium (UGA MECA) to reach both school children and the general public on the problems associated with the accumulation of plastic debris on the Georgia coastline.

Project contacts: Richard Lee ( and Dodie Sanders (

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