Web site maps underwater debris in Gulf

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has launched a new Web site that offers free online maps of marine debris in the northern Gulf of Mexico.

The site, http://gulfofmexico.marinedebris.noaa.gov/, provides users with maps of debris-laden areas in the waters of Mississippi, Alabama and Louisiana.

The maps indicate nautical position and other physical properties of each piece of submerged debris found during the NOAA Office of Coast Survey and Office of Response and Restoration’s surveying effort, which began in September.

Hurricanes Katrina and Rita inflicted severe damage on the Gulf Coast. Even though the surface looks calm, underwater marine debris poses a hazard to vessel traffic and commercial fishing gear. The maps can help fishermen avoid debris and keep them updated on the status of debris removal in fishing grounds.

The Mississippi-Alabama Sea Grant Consortium is working with NOAA to promote the Web site.