MARCET: New research cruise to ESTOC to test the improvements implemented in the Microplastic Sampler

At the end of this March, we went on a new research campaign to ESTOC (European Station fot Time-Series in the Ocean, Canary Islands), mamanged by the Oceanic Platform of the Canary Islands (PLOCAN). The navigation, onboard the Oceanographic Research Vessel Ángeles Alvariño, took place in the days before the arrival of the storm “Hugo”, so it was somewhat limited, although very fruitful.

Set up of the Microplastic Sampler in the B/O Ángeles Alvariño.

Within the research work that we are developing in the frame of the MARCET project, this oceanigraphic campaign represents a great opportunity to test the Microplastic Sampler that we are developing. Taking inspiration from other similar investigations, without interruptions caused to other operations envisaged in the campaign, nor slowing down the vessel’s speed of navigation, the system uses one of the sea water intakes. Thus, and thanks to the facilitation of PLOCAN, this method was tested for the first time in the last mission to ESTOC in September, also aboard the B/O Ángeles Alvariño. Since then, in the research group on Environmental Technologies, Management and Biogeochemistry, we have been implemented some improvements in the prototype that have been evaluated in this last campaign.

Calibration of the Microplastic Sampler with Rosetta in the R/V Ángeles Alvariño

Preliminary tests onboard oceanographic vessels are a necessary step to know the pros and cons of the system, adjust their parameters and investigate their versatility in routine sampling aboard a wide range of boats. Thus, once optimised its operation, a first objective is the adaptation for its use in smaller boats of opportunity. In this way, research on the abundance and distribution of microplastics will not only be facilitated but also, the sampling possibilities will be increased. This will represent, at the same time, a new opportunity to establish interesting collaborations with other platforms, companies or individuals that are concerned about marine debris.