New app lists marine debris and wildlife interactions

An albatross in a field of marine debris. Photo: Andy Collins/NOAA

A new mobile app gives observers in North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia a way to document interactions between animals and marine debris.

Part of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Marine Debris Program, the app Tangled in Trash: A Reporting Tool for Wildlife stores data in one place, allowing natural resource agencies to study how marine debris affects wildlife populations and develop solutions, officials said.

The app uses Anecdata, a free online citizen science platform developed by the MDI Biological Laboratory Community Lab in Bar Harbor, Maine.

“We can’t wait for people to start documenting what they see in North Carolina and across the region,” Gloria Putnam, North Carolina Sea Grant’s coastal community and resource specialist, and a member of the team that contributed to the app, said in a statement.

Kelly Thorvalson, conservation programs manager for the South Carolina Aquarium and project coordinator, said Tangled in Trash will collect several key types of information.

“More than 200 species of wildlife have been documented to be affected by marine debris, but the interactions are not well understood,” Thorvalson said in a statement. “This tool will house reported interactions between wildlife and marine debris to help users, researchers, wildlife responders and others identify trends and critical concerns and strategize actionable solutions.”

After submitting a report, observers will be encouraged to contact wildlife responders for live animals and certain types of deceased animals.

In North Carolina, they will be asked to contact the following people:

  • Stranded Marine Mammals: University of North Carolina Wilmington Marine Mammal Stranding Network, 910-515-7354.
  • Stranded Sea Turtles: North Carolina Sea Turtle Stranding and Rescue Network Hotline, 252-241-7367.
  • Injured non-marine birds and mammals: North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission Wildlife Hotline: 866-318-2401 or

Join the Tangled in Trash project by downloading the app.

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