Comparing Plankton vs. Microplastic Ratios between Samples from the N. Pacific Gyre
Algalita Marine Research and Education was founded by Captain Charles Moore, the sailor who brought the Great Pacific Garbage Patch to the world’s attention. They have spent years collecting data from each of the five gyres and have recently reached out to our lab to help them with some of the analysis.
We are aiming to sort through the contents of their samples collected from the North Pacific Gyre consisting of plankton, natural debris, and non-natural debris (aka plastics). After sorting, the weights of each group will be taken to determine the ratios of plastics to plankton within the sample. Using our FTIR-ATR, we will also identify the type of microplastics collected.
Click HERE to learn more about Algalita Marine Research and Education!
Photo of plankton under magnification with a blue fiber.
Can you spot it?
Microplastic Analysis of Surface Samples from the Shelikof Strait
In 2021, Bonnie Monteleone formed a partnership with the Ocean Plastics Recovery Project (OPR) to remove marine debris from Katmai National Park in Alaska. On this journey, with the help of Captain and co-founder Andy Schroeder, she lowered a manta trawl into the surface of the pacific ocean and towed it alongside the Island C, an OPR vessel. The results of this surface sampling were so intriguing that we had to do it again!
In the summer of 2022, two teams from Plastic Ocean Project (POP) left for that same journey. Each team sampled for 30 minutes and took extensive notes on the conditions of the weather and water throughout. The contents of the samples were shipped to the POP lab where they were processed and picked through for microplastics.
From the last two years, we have analyzed approximately 1,500 particles from 4 surface samples. The numbers are shocking and our analysis has identified plastics such as polyethylene, polypropylene, PET, and MORE. We intend to make another return trip with OPR in the summer of 2023 to collect more samples and see how the data changes from year to year.
Click HERE for more information on our collaborators, Ocean Plastics Recovery Project!
Click HERE to read the WECT 6 news coverage on our research trip to Alaska!