Expedition report

Citizen Science

Expedition report

Addressing plastic pollution in the Wadden Sea

ExpeditionOn 26th of April, we embarked on a journey aboard the “Lauwerszee” to shed light on the issue of plastic pollution in the Wadden Sea. With a total of 17 participants, including both crew members and volunteers, our group conducted a one-day workshop utilizing a Manta Trawl to gather microplastics from the sea.

Throughout the expedition, our marine scientist and CEO of The Ocean Movement, Maarten Erich, underscored the concealed nature of plastic pollution. Despite the apparent cleanliness of the waters, the trawl revealed a significant accumulation of microplastics, illustrating the depth of the issue. Following a hiatus induced by the pandemic, our foundation resumed its efforts, introducing new initiatives like the Great Bubble Barrier in Harlingen to intercept plastic before it enters the sea.

Through interactive quizzes and discussions, the expedition emphasized the critical need for reducing plastic consumption and promoting global collaboration. The discoveries made during the expedition astonished participants, accentuating the imperative for unified action to combat plastic pollution.

Key Findings from the expedition

Manta TrawlThe Manta Trawl, named after the majestic manta ray, effectively captured microplastics by filtering the upper 15 centimeters of the water column. Although larger plastic items such as bottles and bags were not retrieved, the net successfully collected smaller particles.

Microplastic presence: during the half-hour sweep, the trawl accumulated eleven minuscule pieces of microplastic and three fragments of mesoplastic. These findings hold significance, particularly given the apparent cleanliness of the Wadden Sea.

Extrapolated data: extrapolating these findings to a broader area suggests an approximate presence of 7,159 microplastic pieces per square kilometer in the Wadden Sea. Comparable samplings typically yield around 11,393 pieces, indicating a pervasive issue.

Visual illusion: the initial impression of a relatively pristine sea was deceptive, as the presence of microplastics highlighted the underlying pollution problem.

Broader implications

The expedition affected participants, who came to grasp the extent of the pollution issue despite minimal visible evidence. The data collected during the expedition underscores the imperative for sustained efforts to tackle plastic pollution at both local and global levels.

Practical solutions

ExpeditionThe expedition stressed the importance of practical solutions, including:

Great Bubble Barrier: this innovative system intercepts plastics in rivers before they reach the sea, significantly reducing marine plastic pollution.

Behavioral change: encouraging individuals to minimize their plastic consumption and engage in environmental activism can drive broader societal change.

The Wadden Sea expedition vividly illustrates the hidden problem of plastic pollution. By combining hands-on research with educational activities, the expedition not only uncoveres the extent of microplastic contamination but also inspires participants to become advocates for a cleaner, healthier environment. The findings serve as a stark reminder of the ongoing plastic crisis and the urgent need for collective action.

Interested in joining us for our next one-day workshops? Explore our expeditions and sign up today!

2024 The Ocean Movement - Created by Wilde Amsterdam & Webbakery