Events /

Ocean Plastics

September 6 - 30, 2019

We're dedicating the month of September to hosting scientists, explorers, artists, advocates and organizations tackling the huge issue of ocean plastics. We have 9.2 billion tons of plastic on our planet of which 6.9 billion tons have become waste. We are filling the bodies of water on our planet with plastic, a conservative estimate shows 8.8 million tons of plastic enter the ocean each year. How long does it take for plastic to completely biodegrade? Estimates range from 450 years to never. Wave action and the sun cause plastic to breakdown into smaller pieces called microplastics, which are ingested by marine life, carrying toxins that accumulate through the food chain and into our bodies. A few more facts to illustrate the issue:
More than 5 trillion pieces of plastic are already floating in our ocean | Over a million seabirds and 100,000 marine mammals are killed by plastic trash each year | Around the world, over a million plastic bottles are sold every minute | 10% of plastic waste in our ocean is discarded fishing gear
Take the plastic pledge with National Geographic and make some simple changes that can have a big impact: https://www.nationalgeographic.com/environment/plasticpledge/

The Google Hangouts:

September 6, 2019

10:00 am

Camera spots available: 6

Elitza is a marine biologist focusing on saving large ocean creatures - megafauna- from extinction. Besides learning about the lives of these giants, she's particularly interested in how manta rays and whale sharks may be harmed by ingesting small pieces of plastic - microplastic. Elitza's a PhD student at Murdoch University, Western Australia and a lead researcher with the Marine Megafauna Foundation. She hopes to inspire people of all ages to consider how they can become better marine stewards, to love and care for the ocean and its creatures. For more info on her project and work please visit: https://www.facebook.com/microplasticsmegafauna/

September 10, 2019

2:00 pm

Camera spots available: 6

Dr. Tierney Thys is a National Geographic Explorer, marine biologist, Research Associate at the California Academy of Sciences and an independent filmmaker. She serves on the board of Think Beyond Plastic (TBP)—a global leader in advancing solutions to plastic pollution through innovation and entrepreneurship. TBP is developing the ecosystem for bio-based bio-benign materials, new packaging design, manufacturing processes, consumer and business products. After receiving her PhD studying biomechanics, Dr. Thys served for 10 years as Director of Research at Sea Studios Foundation—producers of the award-winning six-part PBS documentary series Strange Days on Planet Earth. This series, which focused on global environmental challenges including climate change, overfishing and plastic pollution, whetted her desire to find solutions. Her current research projects include tracking marine megafauna with satellite tags to reduce bycatch, quantifying the role nature plays in human well-being and environmental decision-making through neuroimaging, providing nature to nature-deprived populations specifically the incarcerated and producing a narrative film on long term solutions to plastic pollution.

September 20, 2019

1:00 pm

Camera spots available: 6

Oceanographer and National Geographic Explorer Katlin Bowman studies mercury chemistry in marine environments using chemistry and genomic techniques, helping scientists understand how mercury concentrations have changed throughout history. Currently, she is studying how microplastic pollution in San Francisco Bay impacts mercury cycling. Katlin has spent nearly a year of her life at sea, spanning 12 expeditions. She has crossed the Atlantic, cruised through the tropical Pacific Ocean and Mediterranean Sea, walked across ice floes at the North Pole, and explored the seafloor in the deep-ocean submersible Alvin. A mentor to young women in science in a program for underrepresented women applying to graduate school, she is also the co-author and narrator of a children’s book, To the Top of the World, that tells the story of a research expedition to the Arctic Ocean.

September 26, 2019

10:00 am

Camera spots available: 6

Marine Biologist Imogen Napper is a National Geographic Sky Ocean Rescue Scholar. She developed her love of the ocean from a young age as she learned to sail and surf in her seaside home town of Bristol, UK. Once she began noticing the effects of plastic contamination on beaches, her passion to be part of the solution arose. Imogen received a BS in Biomedical Science and an MS in Biotechnology. She is now finishing her PhD in Marine Science at Plymouth University, focusing on the sources of plastic in marine environments. Her work recently helped influence the ban of microbeads in cosmetics internationally. Her research was also the first research piece that specifically analysed different fabric types (such as polyester) to further understand how many plastic fibres come off during clothes washing. Her research found that up to 700,000 fibres could potentially come off from a single wash of acrylic clothing. Imogen will be working to identify the most effective technology for capturing the tiny micro plastic fibers that are released when modern clothes are washed.

September 27, 2019

9:30 am

Camera spots available: 6

Join Anna for a live dissection of a seabird to see if we find plastic in its stomach. Her research examines "new" contaminants like water repellant compounds compared to "legacy" pollutants like flame retardants in seabird tissue and ocean water, to better figure out how seabirds are accumulating these pollutants. She also characterizes plastic ingestion in seabirds to better figure out how plastics accumulate in birds. She is the managing editor of oceanbites.org and constantly seeks to spread awareness about plastic and chemical pollution in the oceans.

Camera spots available: 6

Jennifer is a Marine Biologist at the Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies (IMAS) in Tasmania, Australia. Her research focuses on marine plastic pollution, including plastic-associated chemicals. She uses seabirds as "sentinel species": essentially they are her little "CIA investigators". They criss-cross huge oceans in search of food, returning to the land (usually islands) with bellies full of plastic they mistakenly ingested because the plastic looked or smelled like prey. By studying what the birds eat, Jennifer can learn a lot about the health of the oceans.

Camera spots available: 6

Dr. Sarah-Jeanne Royer is an oceanographer and currently doing a post-doctorate on marine debris at the International Pacific Research Center at the University of Hawaii. Her research is linked to the pathways and fate of marine debris and plastic pollution in the ocean. In addition, prior to this post-doctorate, she investigated on the emissions of greenhouse gases from plastics in the environment at the Center for Microbial Oceanography, Research and Education. She has been highly involved with the organization named Sustainable Coastlines Hawaii, which is the biggest organization of beach cleanups in Hawaii. For three years she served as the science advisor and started using data collection from volunteers for citizen science projects. Her goal is to pursue plastic research to understand better the degradation and fragmentation processes of plastic and fate in the ocean in addition to the plastic accumulation on the different island of Hawai’i. Her long-last objective is for policymakers to use data from scientists and volunteers to design better laws and policies to reduce plastic production & consumption. She also started recently a project on micro-fibres at SCRIPPS Institute of Oceanography with Dimitri Deheyn.

Camera spots available: 6

Lilly Woodbury is originally from Tofino, British Columbia, but has lived most of her life by the Great Lakes in rural Northern Ontario. Upon moving back to the coast at 18, she fell in love with the pursuit to protect the environment, and ended up doing a Double Major in Environmental Studies and Cinema Studies at the University of Toronto. Since graduating in spring 2015, she has worked on a diversity of campaigns including wild salmon protection and mining, as well as working for Greenpeace in New Zealand in 2016/2017 with the aim of stopping offshore drilling and seismic blasting. Since the winter of 2015, Lilly has been volunteering for Surfrider Pacific Rim, working on plastic campaigns, running the media, organizing events, and participating in beach clean ups. Since April 2017, she landed a dream job as the Chapter Manager for Surfrider Pacific Rim, which has the current aim of eliminating single use plastics, implementing progressive recycling practices for petroleum products, and working with the public, youth and businesses through programs and events that raise awareness about coastal stewardship and ocean friendly behaviours. In her spare time she loves to surf, adventure outdoors, write creative nonfiction, video edit, and travel with the continual goal of learning about environmental initiatives and the positive action being taken in different cultures.

Camera spots available: 6

Karine est une amatrice de voile, une professeure et plus particulièrement, elle se décrit comme une ÉDUCATRICE. Ayant vécue le long du fleuve St-Laurent et des Grands Lacs, elle est passionnée de sciences environnementales, de la protection de la qualité de l’eau et de l’agriculture durable. Après une maîtrise en génie agroenvironnemental, elle a conseillé des producteurs agricoles au sujet des bonnes pratiques de gestion des sols et de la conservation de l’eau et a enseigné à la prochaine génération de fermiers dans des programmes pré-universitaires. Elle revient d’une traversée de l’océan Pacifique Nord, d’Hawaï à Vancouver, sur un voilier avec un équipage entièrement féminin pour amasser des données sur le microplastique. Avec un océan de souvenirs de son adventure, Karine éduque et conscientise à propos des solutions pour s’attaquer à la problématique du microplastique. Karine is a sailor, a teacher and most importantly, she is an EDUCATOR. Passionate about environmental sciences, water protection, she is a strong believer in following our bliss. Having lived along the St-Laurence River and the Great Lakes, Canada, she is an avid advocate of sustainable agriculture. After her Masters degree in agro-environmental engineering, she went on advising established farmers on soil management best practices to conserve water quality in agricultural watersheds and taught to the future generation of farmers in pre-university programs. She recently crossed the North Pacific Ocean, from Hawaii to Vancouver, on an all-female sailing voyage to collect new data on plastic and toxics. With an ocean of souvenirs from her journey, Karine educates and raises awareness around solutions to tackle the issue of microplastic.

Camera spots available: 6

Lillygol Sedaghat is a Fulbright–National Geographic Digital Storyteller documenting Taiwan’s waste management system, plastics recycling and circular economy initiatives. She hopes to inspire conscious consumerism by focusing on the human narratives shaping systems imperceptibly ingrained in our lives. Using digital and visual media to describe recycling methods and processes, and public platforms such as Tedx and school outreach, Lilly aims to transform public perceptions of trash, showing it isn’t just disposable, but valuable. Her work includes: infographics demystifying the plastics recycling process; music videos featuring sounds from Taipei City’s waste management system; a 12-day Zero Plastic Waste Challenge video series, and interactive stories on the Nat Geo blog.

Camera spots available: 6

Dr. Jenna Jambeck is a National Geographic Explorer, an Associate Professor in the College of Engineering at the University of Georgia (UGA). She has been conducting research on solid waste issues for over 20 years with related projects on marine debris since 2001. She also specializes in global waste management issues and plastic contamination. Her work on plastic waste inputs into the ocean has been recognized by the global community and translated into policy discussions by the Global Ocean Commission, in testimony to U.S. Congress, in G7 and G20 Declarations, and the United Nations Environment program. In 2014 she sailed across the Atlantic Ocean with 13 other women in eXXpedition to sample land and open ocean plastic and encourage women to enter STEM disciplines. She is co-developer of the mobile app Marine Debris Tracker, a tool that continues to facilitate a growing global citizen science initiative. She was also featured in National Geographic Magazine's cover story 'Planet or Plastic' in June 2018.

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