The Northwestern Hawaiian Islands

The Northwestern Hawaiian Islands are home to endangered Hawaiian monk seals, green sea turtles, seabirds, and a near-pristine coral reef ecosystem.

These islands and their inhabitants are threatened by marine debris because of the islands’ location in the North Pacific gyre. Marine debris is human-created waste that has deliberately or accidentally become afloat in a lake, sea, ocean or waterway.

C-MORE was established to explore the largely unknown and fascinating world of marine microbes. During the Survey of Underwater Plastic and Ecosystem Response (SUPER) research cruise, researchers took the first steps to understanding how plastic debris in the ocean impacts this essential community of organisms.