The issue of plastic pollution in the marine environment has emerged in the past decade as an important global environmental issue. The concern about these contaminants is due to their persistent ubiquitous nature and the threat they pose to marine life.

eXXpeditionPhoto credit: Emma Feggetter & eXXpedition

One of the key goals of eXXpedition is to collect data about plastics in the ocean. In order to accomplish this, the correct protocol focuses on taking samples the different marine compartments.

Sampling protocols:

  1. Van Veen Grab – this device is used to grab sediment samples from the ocean floor
  2. Manta Trawl – this devise is used to collect surface water samples by skimming the ocean surface
  3. Niskin Bottle – this device is used to collect subsurface samples, 25 meters below the ocean surface

Therefore on leg 4, we have been fortunate to have good weather to sample the sediment and aquatic compartments. The Van Veen grab was used to collect the sediment samples. While the manta trawl was used to sample the surface water and the Niskin bottle was used to sample sub surface water 25 meters below the surface. 

eXXpeditioneXXpeditionPhotos credited to: Emma Feggetter & eXXpedition

Traditionally it has been thought that the majority of plastic would be present in the surface layer. However, recently we are finding microplastics (<5microns) in all marine layers. In order to validate the presence of microplastic and its concentration in the marine environment, it is important to sample various sediment, sub surface and surface layers. 

eXXpedition eXXpeditionPhotos credited to: Emma Feggetter & eXXpedition

Once plastic debris and microplastics are present in the environment compartments, these contaminants may pose a threat to the organisms that live there. Therefore, the collection of data regarding microplastic abundance, distribution and composition is important as it provides an indication of hotspots of accumulation. By identifying the polymer types of the microplastics that we collect, we are able to get an idea about the source of the plastic.

This helps us better understand the problem, where the plastic is coming and from and look towards solutions!


Navarino technology keeps eXXpedition online wherever we go.