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The Georgia Sea Turtle Center partnered with the Southeast Atlantic Marine Debris Initiative in 2012, which is part of the NOAA Marine Debris program. Marine Debris Research Volunteers collect data on marine debris found on Jekyll Island’s beaches while conducting routine cleanups. They help protect sea turtle and shorebird nesting habitats by collecting and properly disposing debris.

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Volunteers record real-time data on where, when, what and how much debris is collected using the Marine Debris Tracker application. While on the beach, Marine Debris Research Volunteers also educate visitors about conservation initiatives and ways Jekyll Island visitors can help protect sea turtles and our coastal ecosystems.

How you can help!

There are many ways you can help. Here are a few:

  • Reduce your plastic use
  • Recycle as much as you can
  • Attend a volunteer orientation and become a Marine Debris Research Volunteer and earn service hours at the GSTC
  • Download the Marine Debris Tracker app. (create your own username and password and choose the GSTC Project from the list)
  • Log your data in the Marine Debris Tracker app anywhere you collect marine debris – find a local project or log it in the NOAA list
  • Even if you don’t log your data, clean up your streams, rivers, and yards and make a difference in the fight against marine debris
  • Have a group looking for a guided service project? Please contact us at and we can set something up specific for your  group

Marine debris is any persistent solid material that is manufactured or processed and directly or indirectly, intentionally or unintentionally, disposed of or abandoned into the marine environment or Great Lakes.  Marine debris tends to accumulate on coastlines and in the center of gyres, making its impacts widespread and unpredictable. Marine debris comes from both land and oceanic sources.  Debris left on beaches and blown from landfills can easily end up in the ocean as tides come and go.  Rivers, streams and storm drains can carry litter over large distances to the ocean as well.  The mobility of marine and land debris has created a global problem that has local solutions. To learn more about the GSTC’s marine debris efforts, check out our poster that was presented at the 2014 Jekyll Island Green Screen!