Updated: Dec 19, 2018
Jervis Bay is filled with beautiful white sandy beaches - could this image be tarnished with microplastic pollution? There is only one way to find out, undertaken an AUSMAP microplastic survey!
Students from Macquarie University, supervised by our own Dr Scott Wilson, recently undertook a field trip to investigate the ocean beaches and those within the Bay.
Across the sites sampled,they found relatively low microplastic loads with no site reporting levels above 10 items per m2, a fantastic result for the environment! Furthermore, it was exciting to report that Collingwood Beach, located on the southern side of Jervis Bay, is the first site in the AUSMAP database with zero microplastics identified!
In other samples, over 50% of the microplastics identified were foam balls, suggesting that packaging materials are the main source of pollution in this area. These foam balls not only pose a threat being confused for food by both marine and land animals, they also leach chemicals into their surrounding aquatic environment.
Interestingly, there were 2.5 times more plastics found on ocean beaches than beaches in the Bay, which is converse to that on Sydney beaches! This indicates different sources are at play with our plastic pollution depending on location.
Surveys and results such as this always create more questions than they answer. Thank you for adding to our database and understanding, keep up the curiosity and hard work students!
We hope that our database continues to grow as our trainers spread their knowledge and communities add their surveys to grow our understanding of microplastics and the influences on them. If you would like to get involved in future AUSMAP events, you can contact us here: https://www.ausmap.org/contact
Written by: Beth Vanderhaven (AUSMAP Social Media Coordinator, Volunteer), Program Director Dr Michelle Blewitt
Photos: Dr Scott Wilson