Marine Debris Tracker

Marine Debris Tracker

Discarded metal, fishing gear, plastic, glass and other waste can both sully a beach and pose a health threat to its inhabitants. That’s why the NOAA Marine Debris Division and the Southeast Atlantic Marine Debris Initiative (SEA-MDI), located within the College of Engineering at the University of Georgia, have developed the Marine Debris Tracker mobile app. This iPhone and Android software lets you check in when you find trash on our coastlines and waterways.

The project’s goal is to spread awareness of marine debris, as well as serve as an easy-to-use and simple tool for marine debris data collection. Citizen scientists can provide feedback individually or at

Given that the majority of debris tracking might take place in remote areas or even on the water, where there is likely no WiFi or even a cell signal, citizen scientists can log and track as many items as they want and store this info in their smartphones until they return to a place where they can wirelessly submit their findings.

Project Details

  • PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: Jenna Jambeck, Assistant Professor of Environmental Engineering
  • SCIENTIST AFFILIATION: College of Engineering, University of Georgia
  • DATES: Ongoing
  • PROJECT TYPE: Fieldwork
  • COST: Free
  • GRADE LEVEL: All Ages

    Register with the project and download the appropriate app, depending on your smartphone.

See more projects in FreeFieldworkAll Ages.

What Is Citizen Science?

Research often involves teams of scientists collaborating across continents. Now, using the power of the Internet, non-specialists are participating, too. Citizen Science falls into many categories. A pioneering project was SETI@Home, which has harnessed the idle computing time of millions of participants in the search for extraterrestrial life. Citizen scientists also act as volunteer classifiers of heavenly objects, such as in Galaxy Zoo. They make observations of the natural world, as in The Great Sunflower Project. And they even solve puzzles to design proteins, such as FoldIt. We'll add projects regularly—and please tell us about others you like as well.

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