“Are you filtering sea water again?!?!”
…That is my usual greeting from crew members when I board the research vessel to carry out sample collection. Most of my data collection is carried out at sea, and I (Amy) have just returned for another sample collection in the North Atlantic on the R.V. Celtic Explorer, Ireland’s seagoing research vessel. I’ve spent the first two months of 2014 adding a few more sampling locations for one of my PhD chapters. I am just back from a equipment trial out near the porcupine bank in the North Atlantic. In January I collected data alongside a group of scientists on Cetaceans on the Frontier 5 (http://www.cotf5.blogspot.ie).
I won’t look at the samples until I return to shore, this way I can control the laboratory conditions.
From the samples I have collected during previous cruises, fibres are the most common type of plastic identified. The results will be used to compile a picture of microplastics in the marine environment. It is hard to say the source of the microplastics at the moment, however we will be running mass spectroscopy to work out the chemical structure of the microplastics polymers.
I have written a couple of other blog posts during previous cruises in 2013: