A turtle is freed from marine debris on a beach by a man.

Marine debris have a direct impact on threatened and endangered marine species.

Tackling marine debris

Teachers and school students are working with scientists in a three-year study of marine debris around Australia.

  • 4 March 2012 | Updated 17 April 2014


Page 1 of 4

Marine debris is what we call the waste that makes its way into our oceans, lakes and rivers. It is a major global threat to marine biodiversity.

By effectively ‘clogging up’ our oceans and water ways, marine debris has a direct impact on fish, amphibians, invertebrates, birds, reptiles, and mammals – including threatened and endangered marine species. And as the rate of rubbish in the ocean grows exponentially, this impact continues to increase.

In 2011 CSIRO partnered with Earthwatch to deliver the largest, most comprehensive marine debris research survey - ever. The three year project is funded by Shell.

The marine debris research survey aims to identify and understand the threat marine debris poses to our wildlife and ecosystems by mapping out where – and how – it is accumulating along Australian coastlines.

CSIRO researchers have visited more than 170 sites around Australia, completing over 575 transects (or 'straigh line surveys'), stopping at 100 kilometre intervals along the Australian coast, investigating:

A research team led by Dr Britta Denise Hardesty of the CSIRO Wealth from Oceans Flagship is investigating the threat posed by marine debris to Australian wildlife and ecosystems.

  • sources, distribution, and ultimate fate of marine debris
  • exposure of marine wildlife to debris
  • the effects of ingestion and entanglement on marine wildlife populations.

The data collected are compiled in a national Marine Debris Database, designed to assist governments and industry in the formulation of waste management policies and practices intended to protect marine ecosystems.

The project is part of TeachWild, a three-year marine debris research and education program, developed by EarthWatch Australia in partnership with CSIRO and Shell.

Watch a video about Marine Debris

Show Transcript

Transcript to be supplied.

Transcript to be supplied.

Transcript to be supplied.

Transcript to be supplied.

Transcript to be supplied.

Learn more about CSIRO’s Wealth from Oceans.