MICROPLASTICS, A SILENT CANCER SPREADING RAPIDLY IN OUR OCEANS
ARCHIPELAGOS INSTITUTE OF MARINE CONSERVATION WAS THE FIRST ORGANISATION IN GREECE TO RESEARCH THE SPREAD OF MICROPLASTICS IN OUR SEAS
In today’s world plastics are everywhere. The global production of plastics has skyrocketed in recent decades, and so have the piles of plastic waste throughout the world.
Many animals, including birds, mammals (terrestrial and marine) and reptiles, confuse plastic litter for food. As microplastics accumulate in our food chain, we are also affected by them, a product of our own doing.
Since 1998, Archipelagos Institute of Marine Conservation has been contributing towards the protection of the unique Mediterranean ecosystem. Since 2010 Archipelagos' research has shown that high levels of microplastics are found in fish and other wildlife of the Aegean Sea. Through bioaccumulation and feeding, dangerous microplastics find their way into fish, dolphins, whales, sea turtles and seals, some of whom are threatened species. Microplastics have even been found in plankton.
WE AIM TO
UNDERSTAND the spread of microplastics in our seas
PUBLISH scientific papers
Initiate a media CAMPAIGN
URGE the Greek & the EU authorities to take measures limiting plastic contamination
> OUR PURPOSE
In order to address the problem of microplastics spreading across our seas, our action plan mainly focuses on the monitoring of microplastics in the Aegean Sea and other parts of the North-East Mediterranean. This will allow us to create public engagement and political pressure concerning its impacts.
We wish to:
- Carry out scientific research and monitor the quantity of microplastics
- Initiate and/or improve the co-operation with other countries
- Lobby on national and EU scales that will allow the European actions to evolve
- Organize public awareness, education and information to improve public knowledge
> WHO WE ARE?
Archipelagos is an environmental, non-profit organization, committed to protecting the marine and island biodiversity of the North-East Mediterranean. Our main actions are:
Contributing to scientific work on biodiversity conservation
- Working in close collaboration with local fishermen
- Reporting actions to national and EU authorities
- Developing realistic and sustainable management measures
Come back regularly and check out our updates for news, pictures and publications from the Archipelagos Institute of Marine Conservation!
> WHAT DO WE NEED ?1. Details of the main equipment
- FTIR Microscope Imager
Currently, the microplastics in our samples can only be identified by sight. And although strict guidelines are being followed, it is possible that only 70% of these fragments would be confirmed as plastic through FTIR Spectroscopy. FTIR spectroscopy stands for Fourier Transform Infrared Spectroscopy, and it is able to determine the chemical composition of plastic fragments very confidently. With this information, not only will we be able to accurately investigate the abundance of microplastics in the Aegean Sea, but also we will be able to ascertain the original source of the plastic. This will provide strong evidence to help convince the Greek government to exert pressure on the industries responsible for the influx of plastic into our sea.
- High Speed Centrifuge
A centrifuge is a piece of equipment that aids the mixing of solutions. The use of a centrifuge within the method, will significantly speed up the process of separating the sample from the plastic. We would therefore be able to analyse a much greater number of samples resulting in a much more accurate conclusion.- Stereomicroscope
Sometimes referred to as a dissecting microscope. This will aid the sampling process by providing visual aid and will be used in our on-going research.
This machine will enable us to freeze dry our samples. Freeze drying will preserve the perishable sample material for much longer, making it more manageable and accessible to sample over long periods of time.
- Continuous Plankton Recorder
A continuous plankton recorder would be extremely valuable to our research. We would be able to take samples over long periods of time and monitor the occurrence of microplastics consistently and indefinitely. We will be able to determine any significant increase in plastic over time, and also any patterns or changes in distribution.
2. Other requirements
In addition to the equipment mentioned above, we also require laboratory consumables (such as sample containers, glassware etc.) and fuel for sampling surveys.