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Researching the plastic soup

Expedition Plastic includes a number of research projects. We research into the extent and the types and sizes of the plastic floating in the seas. For some hours every day on the way we release a socalled manta trawl net in order to collect plastic in the sea. With the trawl net we select/filter ten cm of the sea surface in specific positions with a given speed. Combined this can give us an estimate of how much plastic there is per square km (km2) in the area concerned.

 

What we can say based on our present knowledge is that what we find represents down to 1% of the plastic supposed to float in the sea surfaces, considering the quantities released and the density of the plastic varieties.

 

The samples are sorted out in sizes over and under 5 mm and categorized as plastic foam, (fishing) line, fragments a. o. We also take out water samples in order to study the smallest particles down to the size of 20 micrometer / um. This is relevant in order to estimate to which extent the plastic degrades and which of the marine organism are able to comsume the plastic. These water samples are included in a large global data base of plastic pollution / contamination. In collaboration with, among others, 5Gyres Institute, USA the research results are published in scientific journals, thus providing politicians better tools for regulating plastic pollution / contamination.

 

On its voyage from Denmark to Los Angeles 2014-16 our expedition has collected almost 100 trawlings, often in areas not earlier examined for plastics. One of the partners in this project is the Danish ship “Nordkaperen”, owned by Troels Kløvedal, who accepted that the ship on its journey from Denmark to Greece in the summer of 2014 could trawl in plastic for scientific purposes.

Plastic contamination is a big problem and it is necessary to collect documentation in order to influence politicians and decision-makers in the proces of breaking the rising curve.