Macroplastic Investigation SydneyJanuary 31 2015
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Marine scientists have discovered that the bottom of Sydney Harbour has been contaminated by widespread microplastic pollution which could be entering the food chain.
Professor Emma Johnston from the Sydney Institute of Marine Science (SIMS) says the microplastics, or fragments of plastic less than five millimetres long, represented the “emergence of new contaminants in [Sydney’s] harbours and waterways”.
Some of the microplastic contamination directly enters waterways as synthetic lint fibres from washing clothes, or exfoliating beads from facial scrubs. Other microplastic contaminants are introduced via the breakdown of products from macroplastic debris such as plastic bags or bottles.
By investigating the distribution of macroplastics around the harbour, we might gain an insight into where the microplastic contaminants are originating.
For this project, we would like to involve the public by allowing them to contribute to data collection using OpenROVs to find and map macroplastics in Sydney Harbour. Should this turn up any useful data, we are exploring the possibility of engaging with SIMS to turn this data into useful research!
*image courtesy of ABC/Two Hands