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As floating debris or flotsam (regional: Flotsam , Geschwemmsel or Teek ) are called objects in the sea or inland waters float on the water surface. This includes natural materials (branches, aquatic plants such as seaweed ), garbage (plastic waste, metal cans, plastic bottles), wreckage and lost cargo from ships. Flotsam on the open sea is also called Seetrift (sea-poisonous goods). In flushed flotsam of natural origin is dried as a fertilizer used

Risks and economic damage

Larger pieces of flotsam can be an obstacle to shipping and a hazard for smaller vessels and damage the equipment of fishing vessels .

Swan nests on floating debris

Floating debris can cause considerable damage to water management systems (e.g. hydropower plants ). The operators of such systems protect themselves against flotsam by attaching a so-called " flotsam rake " in front of the inlet , on which the flotsam sticks and has to be removed regularly.

During floods , debris often collects on bridges , which is also known as blockage . There is increased pressure on the structure. The load can become so great that the bridge is destroyed, although it would have withstood a comparable water level and a similar current without being damaged by floating debris. The removal of accumulated floating debris is therefore an important measure for maintaining a bridge. When building torrents, a debris collector is therefore often placed in front of bridges to reduce the risk of debris.


Previously presented flotsam and jetsam of sunken ships (wreckage) an additional source of income for residents of the country strokes is near which often ships were lost or stranded. This was sometimes forced, for example by manipulating beacons .


The path of the Friendly Floatees through the Pacific Ocean and the Arctic Ocean into the Atlantic

A separate branch of research in oceanography deals with the observation of floating debris migrations over long distances on the oceans in order to gain more precise knowledge about the course and speed of ocean currents .

It was triggered by the thousands of rubber ducks and other floating plastic toys that went overboard from a freighter in the Eastern Pacific in 1992 and have been swimming in the oceans ever since.

See also

Web links

Commons : Marine debris  - Collection of images, videos and audio files
Wiktionary: flotsam  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. Large quantities of Treibsel set on fire in Dithmarschen , NDR, March 26, 2020