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Macroplastic Investigation Sydney

January 31 2015
A citizen science project to investigate the distribution of macroplastics around Sydney Harbour. We'd like to pilot a citizen science program which uses OpenROVs for meaningful research. We'll test out the OpenROVs in the harbour, and we'll teach members of the public to use them, by putting them to work finding macroplastics. If we can do that, we may be able to feed that data into some proper scientific analysis which could allow us to determine where it's coming from. We hope to link up with SIMS and allow the public to contribute to meaningful marine science research.

January 31 2015


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Expedition Background

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


This project sounds really interesting! Have there been any recent updates?