Meet Our Marine Debris Specialist: Max Kraimer

I hope to make a difference by using my science background to collect meaningful data that’s accessible to the local community and inspires change.

When he’s not analyzing microplastics and crunching data, Max Kraimer nurtures a love of the deep sea. His fearless curiosity and desire to explore the unknown leads him to the depths of the ocean floor, uncovering shipwrecks and underwater species.  

Max holds a Bachelor of Science in marine biology, with a minor on sustainability studies from Roger Williams University. Initially, his undergraduate studies focused on oyster farming and aquaculture. He soon learned about the pervasive problem of plastic pollution and marine debris in our coastal waters, a challenge that affects all trophic levels in the marine environment, from oysters to large mammals. 

His research focus at Roger Williams shifted to working with plastic pollution and identifying coastal locations along Narragansett Bay with the most marine debris accumulation. Today, Max is in the unique position to realize his undergraduate work and use his research to solve real-world problems.

Since joining the team in 2017 Max has worked to expand marina trash skimmer technology in Southeast New England by leveraging relationships with residents and local, state and federal officials.  He is responsible for maintaining and operating four marina trash skimmers located on Aquidneck Island, with prospects to expand the technology into other cities throughout New England.

“I hope to make a difference by using my science background to collect meaningful data that’s accessible to the local community and inspires change here and now,” says Max, who is also a PADI rescue diver certified in scientific diving by the American Academy of Underwater Sciences.

Before coming on board as a marine debris specialist, Max gained experience with COA as an environmental science intern for three consecutive semesters, performing inspections of the marina trash skimmers, leading the weekly AFTER5 cleanups and organizing events.

“The biggest threat to our oceans is the thought that someone else will save them,” says Max, referring to one of his favorite quotes by Marcus Eriksen of the 5 Gyres Institute. “That’s why I think it’s really important for us, as the next generation, to take action and ensure that our coastal waters are healthy so that we can enjoy ocean activities for years to come.”

Where did you grow up?

I was born and raised in West Hartford, a suburb smack in the middle of Connecticut. With the ocean roughly 50 miles away, I wasn’t readily at the beach and spent most of my weeknights and weekends playing sports with my friends.

What is your first memory of the ocean?

 During my childhood, I have an ingrained memory of not necessarily building sand castles but overall just playing in the sand.  Digging, throwing it at my sister and the occasional full body burial. The more recent memories I have are the relaxing times on simply laying on the beach catching some rays and letting the oceans energy absorb my unwanted stress.  

What is your favorite ocean activity?

Favorite ocean activity would have to be SCUBA diving. I have over 120 logged dives with a max depth of 103 ft.  I love swimming among the fish and observing underwater boat wrecks when the water is clear. Living in RI where the visibility rarely extends past 5ft I enjoy crawling on the seafloor observing the abundant life that Narragansett Bay has to offer.

What motivates you to work in ocean conservation?

 Through my studies I struggled to find exactly what topic to study in the vast field of marine biology.  With an ecosystem as diverse as the ocean, it was hard to really pick just one species to focus on. When I started to learn more about plastic pollution and marine debris it was easy to jump into the study because I realized that this a newly developed, understudied, topic that affects all trophic levels in our oceans.  I saw an opportunity in the ocean conservation field and I ran with it. While growing in this rapidly moving field I get more imbedded within ocean conservancy as a whole, and use it as a way to make personal sustainable changes on land.