Microplastics in our oceans

Earlier this year we had the opportunity to sail to the Pearson Isles in the Great Australian Bight, which you can read about here. These beautiful islands, 64 km (40 miles) offshore from the Australian mainland, have great ecological value. They have been isolated from the mainland for over 10,000 years and have remained free from any introduced pests. Yet during that relatively short timespan (geologically speaking) the Pearson Island rock-wallaby (Petrogale lateralis pearsoni) has evolved as a distinct subspecies of the black-footed rock-wallaby. The isles may well be considered Australia’s own mini Galapagos.

Since we were sailing  to some remote places, I decided to join the Adventure Scientists' Global Microplastics Initiative and collect water samples along the way. I collected six water samples spanning an area 325 km east to west and 200 km north to south. Samples were sent to a lab in the US to test for traces of microplastics. Two of my 6 samples (shown below) contained microplastics, specifically, sample #2 just offshore from the southern tip of Eyre Peninsula and sample #4 more than 50km offshore to the south (interactive Google map).
Water samples collected during our expedition to Pearson Island.
I was quite shocked to discover the presence of microplastics in otherwise pristine waters. It just goes to show how insidious the problem has become globally (top image). Adventure Scientists' preliminary results show that out of the 2,681 water samples collected, 72% contain plastic, and 90% of the plastic is fibrous. 

To learn more about this initiative visit the Adeventure Scientists' blog.