Marine Debris

The Research: Marine Debris and Plastic Pollution

Collecting data for Adventure and Science for Conservation5 Gyres InstituteDr Richard Thompson at Plymouth University, and Dr Hideshige Takada’s International Pellet Watch at Tokyo University of Agriculture and Technology.

Collecting data that will help to protect the long term health of marine and coastal ecosystems.

1. Whilst at sea the team will dissect the stomachs of any flying fish and other creatures like squid found dead on the boat, looking to see if they have ingested any pieces of plastic. These samples will be collected and sent to a lab for chemical analysis once the team reaches land.

2. Using a kayak trawl (special type of net) on loan to the team from the 5 Gyres Institute in the USA, the team will tow the net behind ‘Mr Toad’ and collect samples of the water and any plastic from the surface of the water. These samples will be collected and sent to a lab for chemical analysis, along with data on the position where found, recorded by the boat’s GPS tracking device.

3. During the row, the Fourbirdsaboating team will take photographs and make 3D films of any larger bits of floating marine or plastic debris they see. This will help to document the kinds of pollution floating around on the ocean and where this is according to the GPS. Is it debris from a tsunami or is it rubbish thrown into the sea by humans.

4. At set points on the ocean row, Fourbirdsaboating will collect surface water samples to help determine any micro-plastic pollution and its toxic potential. Is this entering the food chain and if so, could it cause harm to the people it ends up in?

What is the Effect of Plastic Pollution in the Pacific Ocean? Why Does it Matter?


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