Blog Notre Océan

Trawling for plastic

French La traduction française de cette page n'est pas disponible.

On the boat we have an ongoing science program which includes the Secchi
disk which I haven’t had a chance to use yet and will include in later
blogs, and also the plastic trawl which was brought on by Emily Penn,
Adventure scientist who I am going to include an interview with in this

We deployed the trawl into the water and jotted down the time and the
GPS coordinates to show how long the trawl was in the water and how far
it went. We’ve trawled twice so far, the first for 1 hour and a half
which was a test as we did it while sailing past quite a large
settlement called Sisimiut on route to Disko bay off west Greenland, so
we expected to find a little bit of plastic anyway and the second which
we did crossing over Baffin Bay for a longer 2 hours and a half before
we pulled it up.

Emily deploys the trawl

Emily deploys the trawl

We found quite a few very small fragments which were unfortunately
clearly plastic on our first trawl. On the second, it was a lot harder
to spot and we are still unsure whether there were clear plastic pieces.
So now we just have to wait until we get back when Emily will send off
the samples found by the trawl to be further analysed.

Nera and Emily examine what the trawl has picked up

Nera and Emily examine what the trawl has picked up

Nera: What is the use of trawling for plastic?

Emily: It’s so we can understand how much plastic is in the ocean, where
it’s accumulating, whether or not it’s breaking down, if it’s harming
marine life, where it’s coming from, and how to stop more plastic
getting into the ocean.

Nera: Why is it so important to complete trawls in the Arctic?

Emily: We have very little understanding on how much plastic is in
Arctic waters so the samples we collect will build on that knowledge. We
will be able to see how far into this remote region just how far our
plastic has managed to reach.

this plastic fragment we found is less than 2 mm long

this plastic fragment we found is less than 2 mm long

Nera: How can anyone get involved?

Emily: You can get involved by going to your nearest waterway (the sea
or any river) and look at any plastics you find there. You can use an
app called Marine debris tracker which allows you to log how much
plastic you find and the types. You could also set up a plastic clean up
with your local school.

You can also reduce your personal plastic consumption by thinking about
single use plastic like plastic bags or drinks bottles which are
designed to only be used once.

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