Ocean Plastics

Exploring Ocean Plastics

September 2021

As we have the last 3 years, we’re kicking off the 2021/22 school year exploring ocean plastic, hosting scientists, explorers, artists, advocates and organizations documenting, researching and developing innovative solutions to tackle this global issue. 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 new estimate shows 11 million tons of plastic entering the ocean each year, surely increasing with all the disposable PPE we’ve been using since the start of the pandemic. 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 

Each year, an estimated 640,000 tonnes of disgarded fishing gear enter the world’s oceans, this plastic waste continues ghost fishing, continuing to trap and entangle marine life.

Photo Credit for Surfer in Plastic: Zak Noyle: www.zaknoyle.com

Photo Credit: Jordi Chias

All Event Times Listed in Eastern

Martina Capriotti | Microplastics and Marine Life

September 13th @ 9:30am eastern

Martina is an Italian marine biologist and a researcher. She was born on the coast of the Adriatic Sea and developed an interest in ocean protection as a young scuba diver when she noticed pollution amid grazing fish on a trash-strewn reef. She received the National Geographic and Sky Ocean Rescue Scholarship, which supported her research on microplastics and chemical contamination in the Adriatic Sea. With this project, she hopes to warn people of the real damages that marine litter can have on the planet and the human community. She is currently studying how microplastics can affect suspension feeders as a postdoc at the University of Connecticut.

Register Here: https://forms.gle/DhG7mN7QGsrFFe8X6

Tania Pelamatti | Impact of Plastic Pollution on Sharks and Rays

September 14th @ 12:00pm eastern

Tania is a marine biologist and National Geographic Explorer with a dream: a clean ocean full of life. She dedicated the last 6 years to the research of manta rays and plastic pollution, a concerning new threat for ocean creatures. She lived in Mexico and worked with marine megafauna such as whale sharks and manta rays, being involved especially in conservation projects and environmental education.

Register Here: https://forms.gle/DhG7mN7QGsrFFe8X6

Agustina Besada | Rethinking Our Relationship with Plastics

September 17th @ 10:00am eastern

Agustina is a sustainability entrepreneur specializing in circular economy with a focus on material’s life-cycle. On May 2018, she crossed the Atlantic Ocean in a 36-feet sailboat – twice – to research firsthand the reality of plastics in the ocean and study international solutions. Building on this voyage, she founded and now co-directs Unplastify, an organization in Latin America, seeking to promote awareness and solutions to rethink the human relationship with plastic, through exploration, education and impactful actions. In the past, she served as the executive director of Brooklyn-based sustainability hub and recycling center, Sure We Can. The center employs a community of 400 urban collectors that bring in an average of 40,000 aluminum cans and plastic bottles per day, effectively diverting thousands of pounds of recyclable materials from landfills.

Register Here: https://forms.gle/DhG7mN7QGsrFFe8X6

Kathryn Youngblood | Tracking Plastic in the Ocean

September 20th @ 1:00pm eastern

Kathryn is a research engineer at the Circularity Informatics Lab at the University of Georgia, where she works with communities around the world on upstream solutions to plastic pollution. She is also the director for the Debris Tracker app, a citizen science app creating a global open database of inland and coastal litter. To date, Debris Tracker users have collected data on over 4 million litter items in more than 90 countries around the world. The citizen science litter data collected using Debris Tracker constructs a powerful scientific and educational map to spread awareness on the issue of plastic pollution and inform local solutions. Recently, Debris Tracker was used to collect data on more than 75,000 litter items along the Mississippi River, connecting ocean conservation and upstream communities.

Register Here: https://forms.gle/DhG7mN7QGsrFFe8X6

Taylor Maddalene | Impacts of Plastic on Coastal Ecosystems

September 24th @ 11:00am eastern

Taylor is currently a PhD Student in the Jambeck Research Group in the College of Engineering at the University of Georgia. Taylor received her Bachelors in Environmental Science from the University of Virginia and her Masters in Marine Biodiversity and Conservation from Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego. Her background is in marine ecology, conservation, and science communication, working on projects around the globe with organizations such as National Geographic, NOAA, and Rare. Before starting her PhD, she worked with Dr. Jambeck as the Director of the Plastics Initiative at National Geographic and organized their largest female-led expedition on the Ganges River to study plastic pollution. Her current research focuses on the impacts of plastic pollution on coastal ecosystem health and tying human behavior and waste management infrastructure on land with that we find in the ocean.

Register Here: https://forms.gle/DhG7mN7QGsrFFe8X6

Imogen Napper | Plastic Fibres from Your Clothes

September 27th @ 11:00am eastern 

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.

Register Here: https://forms.gle/DhG7mN7QGsrFFe8X6

David de Rothschild | Plastiki

September 28th @ 10:00am eastern

As an explorer, who has traversed some of the world’s toughest environments, David de Rothschild has been harnessing his curious spirit to help give Nature a voice and make the world a more sustainable place for the last two decades. In 2006, he founded the Voice for Nature Foundation, an organisation that uses exploration, adventure and storytelling to give ‘Nature a voice. In 2010 David spent 3 months crossing the Pacific ocean from San Francisco to Sydney on the Plastiki, a 60ft recylable catamaran made using 12500 plastic bottles, to raise awareness of the Great Eastern Garbage Patch and help drive solutions to our plastic waste crisis. David uses innovative storytelling and adventures to inspire movements to live more sustainably.

Register Here: https://forms.gle/DhG7mN7QGsrFFe8X6

Actions for Ocean Plastics! with Ocean Wise

September 29th @ 11:00am eastern

We use plastic every day of our lives, from keeping our food fresh to face masks and globes. It’s cheap, useful, but a danger to the environment. What can we do to make a positive difference? Share your ideas and explore way to tackle plastic pollution with Ocean Wise!

Register Here: https://forms.gle/DhG7mN7QGsrFFe8X6

Tierney Thys | Creating Sustainable Textiles

September 30th @ 12:00pm eastern

Join Dr. Tierney Thys to learn more about sustainable textiles and how work and attention in this sphere can help support small industries and indigenous communities making natural Fiber products, and ensuring less plastics are entering our ocean. Tierney 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. 

Register Here: https://forms.gle/DhG7mN7QGsrFFe8X6

All events will be recorded for later viewing