Every year commercial ships discharge the equivalent of eight Exxon Valdez oil spills into the ocean. Each small discharge usually goes undocumented and unpunished, but the makers of the Marine Defenders app want that to change by offering a way for users to report and map any signs of marine pollution, whether it be oil or other types of debris, that they see.
The free app was created under a grant from the National Fish and Wildlife foundation with the aim of being an educational way of displaying just how widespread marine pollution is as well as using the power of crowdsourcing to highlight the problem. If a network of people around the world are on the lookout for marine debris and oil spills and have the power to report them, then it could potentially help to change things.
The app was originally created for the waters off of New Jersey, but it's been expanded to be a global initiative. The Marine Defenders website has information for commercial shippers, New Jersey boaters and educators and activists who want to learn more about how they can prevent pollution and what action they can take if they come across it, whether out on the water or on the beach.
The app is currently available for download for the iPhone and iPad here and an Android version is coming soon.
Below is a 22 minute documentary on oil spills that the Marine Defenders project put together.