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Traveling Through Trash

As part of the NOAA Marine Debris Prevention through Education grant program, UNCW MarineQuest created the 3T Project. Traveling Through Trash: Coastal Migratory Animal Encounters with Marine Debris (3T) will focus on anthropogenic land-based litter as a source of marine debris found in coastal waters through which species of migratory marine animals travel. The 3T project highlights the detrimental impacts marine debris can have on migrating animals. Several of these migratory species are particularly popular with school children, especially sea turtles, dolphins and whales. It is our belief that children will more readily engage in marine debris prevention if they understand that it can hurt one of these popular species. The purpose of the 3T project is to educate elementary and middle school students living in rural communities of the coastal Carolinas about:

  • migratory species such as whales that travel through our coastal waters
  • impacts that encounters with marine debris can have on migratory marine organisms
  • origins of marine debris - including lifestyle choices by students
  • actions that students can take to mitigate the production of marine debris

To achieve this MarineQuest has created an inflatable life-size Right Whale classroom in which programs will take place. Project staff will travel with the whale classroom to schools where they will implement the 3T curriculum and inspire students to become young ocean stewards. The 3T curriculum is STEM infused and includes:

  • physical science of currents and gyres
  • composition and life expectancy of debris
  • biomagnification in food chains
  • entanglement injuries and prosthetics
  • climate change impacts on migration behavior

Program Activities Guide

3T Final Report

Emily Singleton, School Program Facilitator
emily singleton

Emily earned a MS in Marine Biology from UNCW. Her research focused on marine mammal anatomy and biomechanics. Emily is a member of the UNCW Marine Mammal Stranding Program response team and has assisted in numerous necropsies. Emily will be working with the rest of the MarineQuest staff to implement the 3T project.

watson the whale whale heart