A new mobile app gives observers in North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia a way to document interactions between animals and marine debris.
A part of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Marine Debris Program, the Tangled in Trash: A Reporting Tool for Wildlife app stores data in one place, allowing natural resources agencies to study how marine debris affects wildlife populations and to develop solutions, officials said.
The app uses Anecdata, a free online citizen science platform developed by the Community Lab at the MDI Biological Laboratory in Bar Harbor, Maine.
“We’re eager for people to begin documenting what they’re seeing in North Carolina and across the region,” Gloria Putnam, North Carolina Sea Grant’s coastal resources and communities specialist, and a member of the team who provided input for the app, said in a statement.
Kelly Thorvalson, conservation programs manager for South Carolina Aquarium and coordinator for the project, said that Tangled in Trash will collect several types of key information.
“More than 200 species of wildlife have been documented as being affected by marine debris, but interactions are not well understood,” Thorvalson said in a statement. “This tool will house reported wildlife and marine debris interactions to help users, researchers, wildlife responders, and others identify critical trends and 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 directed to contact the following:
- Stranded marine mammals: the University of North Carolina Wilmington Marine Mammal Stranding Network, 910-515-7354.
- Stranded sea turtles: North Carolina Sea Turtle Stranding and Salvage Network Hotline, 252-241-7367.
- Injured birds and nonmarine mammals: North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission Wildlife Helpline: 866-318-2401 or https://www.ncwildlife.org/injured-wildlife.
Join the Tangled in Trash project by downloading the app.