Pumpout Paddlers
Washington Sea Grant’s “Pumpout Paddlers”

You might not know it, but danger for saltwater plants and animals lurks on every single beach — from the white sand beaches of the Caribbean to the rockier beaches found along the Washington coastline, and every beach in between. Plastic debris and other trash left behind by beachgoers ends up in the sand and water, eventually making their way into the stomachs or around the necks of our favorite marine animals. In an effort to get visitors to leave behind only footsteps, Washington Sea Grant (WSG) is doing their best to help keep Washington’s beaches clean for beachgoers and so local ecosystems can thrive. Below are a few examples of the different projects WSG does to keep our beaches clean.

  • Marine debris prevention program: WSG has teamed up with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) this summer to encourage everyone to keep our beaches clean. Check out the Marine Debris prevention webpage, put together by WSG  to help you navigate common situations like how to properly and safely dispose of trash, help a stranded animal or what to do in case of an oil spill!
  • Shoreline monitoring program: state and federal funding helps support salmon habitat restoration projects, but very little funding is allocated to monitoring and assessing the effectiveness of project goals. To fill that gap, WSG students and volunteers (with WSG oversight) conduct long-term monitoring on shorelines in Bainbridge Island, Bremerton and Silverdale, which are key to salmon recovery.
  • WSG Crab Team: considered one of the world’s most impactful invasive species, European green crabs have entered Puget Sound waters and if unchecked, can wreak havoc on local ecosystems. The WSG Crab Team works with state agencies and tribal communities to monitor green crabs, helping keep populations low and assist with rapid responses to try and eliminate as many crabs as possible. The team works with over 200 volunteers and several partners to monitor 56 sites throughout Puget Sound.
  • Small oil spills prevention: recreational boats account for 75 percent of the oil dumped into local waters, which can threaten marine life (like endangered Southern Resident Killer Whales) and pollute aquatic ecosystems. This program provides boaters with the tools to stop oil pollution at the source.

This is just a small portion of the vast resources made available by Washington Sea Grant. Be sure to visit their website and check out all their different projects, from kelp aquaculture and  tsunami research to shoreline restoration and invasive species prevention. Bonus for the sustainable foodies out there: the WSG Twitter provides delicious seafood recipes every Friday.