Basics On Microplastics In Oceans

Whenever I have read up on the topic of waste in oceans recently, I usually found a reference to microplastics in oceans as well. I kind of knew what it was all about. At the same time, I always felt I had no idea. Here are answers to some basic question regarding microplastics in oceans.

plastic pollution Kathmandu c Dieter Schütz at pixelio.de
plastic pollution Kathmandu c Dieter Schütz at pixelio.de

Have you ever wondered what microplastics really are? Where they can be found? And why we should worry about them? Have a look at the questions and answers below. And if you have more information and additional resources, please let me know.

More plastic than fish in oceans – a shocking thought

A report issued in January 2016 by the World Economic Forum contains the startling claim that, by 2050, the world’s oceans will contain more plastic than fish. The possible effects on food chains and ecosystems mean this is a problem for everyone. And not just for those who value and enjoy the ocean for the leisure pursuits, or relaxation.

“Plastic” does not only include the larger pieces that can easily be identified. Microplastics seem to be the more dangerous ones. But what really are they? Continue reading “Basics On Microplastics In Oceans”

Kids Research Microplastics In Mussels

Is it true that microplastics in mussels will harm humans? To answer this and a few other question, a small team of very young researchers entered a nationwide contest. Their topic won them a five day research trip on ALDEBARAN, a professional research sailing yacht.

checking out microplastics in mussels (c meereswettbewerb.de)
checking out microplastics in mussels (c meereswettbewerb.de)

In summer 2017, my eldest daughter will move from primary school to grammar school. She very well knows which grammar school she wants to attend (and, luckily, we agree). I was quite surprised to find out that some kids from her school-to-be took part in a contest organised by “Deutsche Meeresstiftung” (German Sea Foundation). Their topic: research the concentration of microplastics in the North Sea. In addition, do microplastics in mussels change the mussels’ ability to filter sea water? And how many pieces of microplastics can actually be found in mussels? Continue reading “Kids Research Microplastics In Mussels”

Seehamster Started It All For OEOO

It does not always have to be the cleaning of plastic in oceans that gets attention from the public. Seehamster (Sea Hamster) has made some swimmers in Southern Bavaria really happy (and Bavaria is a long way from the sea).

Seehamster on a lake (c One Earth One Ocean)
Seehamster on a lake (c One Earth One Ocean)

One Earth – One Ocean (OEOO), an association aiming to free the oceans from plastic waste, has built some very interesting clean-up boats. I have already posted some lines on their catamaran Seekuh, starting its clean-up mission in Hong Kong beginning of 2017.

The one having started it all for OEOO, however, is a tiny boat called Seehamster. Its looks might be, well, “harmless”. But it is efficient in getting quite a lot of unnecessary stuff out of the water. Continue reading “Seehamster Started It All For OEOO”

Can Football Save The Oceans?

Save the oceans? Football? You will very likely think that I have gone completely bonkers. But… Bayern Munich and Real Madrid have joined the mission to clean up the oceans.

Xabi Alonso, Bayern Munich, for the oceans (c adidas)
Xabi Alonso, Bayern Munich, for the oceans (c adidas)

It was two days ago when I heard that FC Bayern Munich will play this week’s Bundesliga match against TSG Hoffenheim in shirts made of ocean plastic. As I was absolutely surprised by this I wanted more background information and powered up my laptop. What did I find? Not only Bayern Munich was going to wear those adidas x Parley shirts, but also Real Madrid in one of their upcoming matches.

Little (ok, nothing!) did I know of all that. So, what’s the background and aim of that one-off ocean plastics kit hype? What has made those clubs support the quest to save the oceans? Continue reading “Can Football Save The Oceans?”

Seekuh Ready For Cleanup Mission

Ok, it’s ugly. Compared to beautiful sailing boats the catamaran ‘Seekuh’ (Sea Cow) is a no go. It has, however, been built not for beauty but to get pollution in oceans out of the way. And that is what it will be doing soon, starting in Hong Kong harbour.

Seekuh in harbour (c One Earth - One Ocean)
Seekuh in harbour (c One Earth – One Ocean)

Back in March 2016 I have published some lines about the prototype being built (with a very colourful picture to go with it). Now construction of Seekuh has been completed.

It looks a bit strange indeed, or let’s say unusual. However, as soon as it is in action on the water I am sure it will find many friends.

The ship’s christening has taken place end of September 2016, and Seekuh is now ready to tackle its first challenge: Hong Kong harbour. The current plan is to get Seekuh to Hong Kong and into operating mode by January 2017. Continue reading “Seekuh Ready For Cleanup Mission”

Waste At The Bottom Of The Arctic Ocean

Waste at the bottom of the Arctic Ocean is about to become a real problem. Is that my personal opinion only? No. One brief paragraph of a recent study by the AWI has left me absolutely speechless: “In comparison, even the lowest values from the Arctic seafloor are ten times higher (than the waste concentration in the so-called garbage patches)”. They must be joking, I thought. No, they’re not!

plastic bag bottom of arctic ocean 2500 metres depth (cMBergmann)
plastic bag bottom of arctic ocean 2500 metres depth (cMBergmann)

First of all, how cool is that: You are on a ship, and every 30 seconds you get a new picture from the ocean ground beneath you. The OFOS (Ocean Floor Observation System) is the technology behind this. It drifts a metre and a half above the ocean floor and delivering still and moving pictures.

In the past, the scientists from AWI have observed the ocean bottom for sponges, sea cucumbers, fish or any other living creature down below. In recent years, however, their attention has also been grabbed by waste at the bottom of the ocean, directly on the seafloor. Once they started having a look also at that waste in oceans, they produced some worrying numbers. Between 2002 and 2011 the waste at the bottom of the ocean in one square kilometre more than doubled (2.500 metres beneath sea surface). Continue reading “Waste At The Bottom Of The Arctic Ocean”

Some More Facts About Marine Debris

When looking at the career pages of the AWI (Alfred-Wegener-Institut, based in Bremerhaven, Germany), the requirements for getting a job with them seem to be quite challenging. PhDs, Science Officer, Master Students, and a doc for their Antarctic station. There is a good reason for that. They are experts and extremely good at what they are doing. One of the items they keep looking at is marine debris and its origin, distribution and impact.

The text below answers a couple of fundamental questions on marine debris. This is rather similar to a previous post here on Active Outside (basic Q&A on waste in oceans), yet it does give more details and background information on various topics. All of the below (plus lots more) can also be found on the website of AWI. Some of their answers I have shortened a bit. Also, the reason for including it here as full text instead of including a link is quite simple. I would like to keep the content, even if AWI decides to (re)move their page.

Their researchers and scientists are doing a more than fabulous job. Their realistic view on this matter is something I value highly (e.g. their comment on estimated numbers of marine debris floating on the surface of the oceans).

Continue reading “Some More Facts About Marine Debris”

Catamaran ‘Seekuh’ Collecting Garbage In Water

How to get rid of all that garbage floating around in our waters? One of the ideas having caught my attention is the prototype of a catamaran called Seekuh (sea cow). It is currently being built and ready for its mission in summer 2016.

catamaran Seekuh (Sea Cow) (c One Earth - One Ocean)Plastic garbage in shallow waters, seas and oceans is omnipresent. Tons of plastic bags, fishing nets, bottles, cosmetic product waste and the like pollute our water. Three quarters of all the garbage in oceans consists of plastics. And those need a couple of centuries to decompose.

All that waste in water is a major danger to wildlife and, ultimately, humans. If you are rather new to this topic, check out these Basic Q&A regarding waste in oceans.

A catamaran called Seekuh (Sea Cow)

Worldwide, awareness to actually do something about all that waste in oceans has increased dramatically in recent years. Lots of projects and initiatives have been started. A pretty cool one I found to be a catamaran called Sea Cow (Seekuh). What is this supposed to be, or mean?

Continue reading “Catamaran ‘Seekuh’ Collecting Garbage In Water”

Lacking Vitamin Sea

stick on beach in WasserslebenMy “Vitamin Sea” level is down to zero. Not good. Something is not going the way it is supposed to, at least when listening to the prioritisation list of my heart. Just winter blues? Or a really bad case of not enough vitamin sea?

As usual in the first quarter, the kids are down frequently with all sorts of virus and God knows what infections. The sun is blocked by clouds, most of the times at least. And it is either raining, freezing cold or, on a good day, just not nice enough to spend a lot of time outside. Continue reading “Lacking Vitamin Sea”

Baltic Sea Calling

Some call it pond, for others it is already an ocean. Quite a lot of folks hardly know where exactly it is, and some sailors never even dream of leaving its sailing grounds. The Baltic Sea can be described in many ways, some of them are “gorgeous, diversified, underestimated”. As for me: I love it.

last couple of kilometresThe Baltic Sea is the largest brackish inland sea on the planet, covering 412.500 square kilometres. The deepest you could dive (theoretically) is 459 metres, the average depth, however, is only 55 metres. Along its coastline of 8.000 km something between 50-85 million people are living. That was it already with facts and figures, let’s move on to the interesting stuff. Continue reading “Baltic Sea Calling”

Some More Thoughts On “Waste In Oceans”

The title of this article, Waste In Oceans, brings up something like 120 million hits in Google (as of October 2015). Looks like this topic is being talked about. Is there also something being done about it?

marine debris on Hawaiian coast (Wikipedia)
marine debris on Hawaiian coast (Wikipedia)

For some strange reason, my article about the problem of plastic pollution in oceans has been clicked quite regularly in the past weeks, referred to from search engines. Awareness for this topic seems to have increased – which is good news indeed. My follow-up article on potential solutions for all that waste in oceans has not been so popular by lenghts.

So, do we all love to hear about the problems, talk about it, shake our heads and go to bed? Is looking at the problem more interesting than finding or working on a solution for it? Especially for such a major topic?

Probably yes. What do you think, any scientific reason for that, and what is your view on it? Continue reading “Some More Thoughts On “Waste In Oceans””

Waste In Oceans – Basic Questions And Answers

How does waste in oceans get into the sea at all? What is so dangerous about plastic floating around in oceans? Why do animals eat our plastic garbage? Ten questions on the topic of “waste in oceans”.

waste dump oceans (c) Steve Spring - Marine Photobank
waste dump oceans (c) Steve Spring – Marine Photobank

NABU, a Berlin based organisation, has been looking after nature, wildlife and humans since 1899. Their manifold activities and tasks include the protection of endangered species, preservation of rivers, moors, lakes and oceans. And, last but not least, to get humans out into nature again. To enjoy it, to see how precious it is. Plus, to make them understand that a lot needs to be done to keep it all in a healthy state.

Every now and then, news will bring some information on waste in oceans. They cover its extent, apocalyptic future, and it is all our fault (of course). Many folks, however, would like to have a basic understanding of how this came about, the danger coming with it and – ideally – what to do.

NABU has put together a couple of questions and answers on this topic, and here they are. Continue reading “Waste In Oceans – Basic Questions And Answers”

Fishing For Litter In North And Baltic Sea

Fishing for Litter - NABU - Class Schroeder
Fishing for Litter – NABU – Class Schroeder

In recent years, fishermen in the North Sea and Baltic Sea found that the volume of waste in their nets has increased steadily. To support them with disposing of that debris properly, the project “Fishing for Litter” (F4L) had officially been kicked off in the region of Schleswig-Holstein back in May 2011.

The initial talks between local fishermen, NABU and regional partners started in Burgstaaken on the island of Fehmarn. They quickly defined common goals and objectives. The speed of progress brought more fishermen, cities and their harbours in play.

In 2014, the counties of Schleswig-Holstein and Lower Saxony (Niedersachsen) started supporting the Fishing for Litter initiative as well. With that, from a financial perspective, they made it a bit easier to organise and set up the infrastructure needed. Continue reading “Fishing For Litter In North And Baltic Sea”

Get Paid For Ocean Cleanup Mega Expedition

At last, a chance to earn some decent Dollars while sailing on our oceans: The Ocean Cleanup offers quite a bit of money to skippers and boat owners to support them in their quest to get more information about the plastic in the Great Pacific Garbage Pitch.

Mega Expedition by The Ocean CleanupHow much plastic is actually floating around and polluting our oceans we do not really know. Studies have tried to figure that out, assumptions and estimates juggle with varying numbers. To get a much clearer picture, especially for the Great Pacific Garbage Patch,  the Ocean Cleanup “Mega Expedition” has been set up.

Continue reading “Get Paid For Ocean Cleanup Mega Expedition”

I Am The Ocean

Once you start looking at a certain topic, you can see related information everywhere. This is also the case with my recent posts about plastic pollution in oceans.

Last week I stumbled upon this fantastic little video, Harrison Ford being the speaker of “The Ocean”. It is part of a small series of videos with well known celebrities lending their voices to some really great shots and film sequences, and it all touches pressing environmental topics: mother nature, ocean, rainforest, soil, water, redwood, coral reef, flower. Julia Roberts, Penélope Cruz and Robert Redford are also amongst the speakers – great stuff indeed. Continue reading “I Am The Ocean”