New publication: a microplastic sampling method for opportunity vessels

Broad scale sampling methods for microplastic monitoring in the open ocean waters remain a challenge in oceanography, as a large number of samples is required to understand the distribution, abundance and fate of these particles in the environment.

As a result of the research work carried out by Ph.D. student Tania Montoto within the Research Group on Technologies, Management and Environmental Biogeochemistry, with important collaborations such as the Oceanic Platform of the Canary Islands, a scientific article has been published in the journal PLOS ONE, which is already available at:

CapturaPantalla Artículo PLOS ONE

Since 2017, the maintenance missions of the ESTOC Oceanic Station (European Oceanic Time Series Station) operated by PLOCAN, as well as the sampling campaigns carried out both in ESTOC and in the coastal waters Test Site, have served as an opportunity platform for the systematic determination of microplastics in subsurface waters.

The article presents a highly versatile and precise microplastic sampling method, capable of recovering particles of down to 50 μm (the diameter of a human hair!) without interfering with navigation. Preliminary data reveals the presence of these particles in all the stations and transects sampled, with the fibers (64.42%) predominating over the fragments (35.58%), with concentration values ​​within the ranges reported for other areas of the Atlantic.

Although more trials in the region will be necessary to increase the spatial and temporal coverage of the measurements and to identify the possible influence of environmental factors on the concentrations and trends of microplastics in the Canary Islands region, this work undoubtedly contributes in an emerging study area, helping to increase the monitoring of the state of the quality of marine waters and helping to implement and monitor the Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD).

Coffee with science at the Elder Museum

Café Con Ciencia en el Museo Elder

The “Coffee with Science” is an event organized by the ULPGC Sustainability Office, the Government of the Canary Islands and the Elder Museum as part of the activities of the UniPlaNet Project for awareness-raising in education and environmental sustainability.

The first of these “coffees” was held last Friday, January 24th at the Elder Museum, where researchers from the TGBA Research Group participated hosting three debate tables on issues about air quality, risks of pollution related to ballast waters and the problems associated with plastic mismanagement. Again this week, on Friday 31st, a new session is expected. This time it will be followed by a collective presentation of the conclusions reached.

The objective of the “Coffee with Science” is to bring to the public the research topics that are currently being developed by young scientists at the ULPGC, while collecting from the audience the main concerns and visions, sharing different views and reducing the gap between scientific knowledge and street-level knowledge.

Climate change, as a central and common theme at the various tables, addressed the multiple effects it can produce on oceanography, marine pollution, air quality, coastal transformation or preferences in the tourism sector.

Next Friday the debate, from 5 to 6 pm, will also be well accompanied with coffee and cakes. Next, the conclusions session will take place. Admission is free of charge upon registration on the Elder Museum website. Below are some images taken by the Elder Museum.
You can also be an active part, join us!

Café Con Ciencia en el Museo Elder
Café Con Ciencia en el Museo Elder
Café Con Ciencia en el Museo Elder
Café Con Ciencia en el Museo Elder

Dissemination on the importance of pH for the oceans’ life and other environmental impacts

During the European Night of researchers, research centres, universities and scientific associations from all over Europe organize different activities for all the public. In the case of Gran Canaria, the event was organized by the The Canarian Science and Technology Park Foundation of the University of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, giving as a result the Macaronight, an event that took place in the Plaza de Santa Ana in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria.

From the Group of Environmental Management, Technologies and Biogeochemistry we left the laboratory to present our work on the streets through two fun and educational activities.

In particular, we chose two themes: the environmental impact of recreational and/or tourist activities on sensitive natural areas, and the importance of pH in life and marine environment, demonstrating how this famous scale of acidity can be represented through simple experimentation and just with “home ingredients”.

Schoolchildren (and also adults!) checked the pH of different solutions of everyday items such as toothpaste, jet water, soft drinks or detergent using lombard cabbage extract as a colorimetric indicator. This experience was used to explain the environmental problem associated with marine acidification, on which a “research kit” was distributed to develop at home or in the classroom. This experiment involves tracking the dissolution of shells from marine organisms in white vinegar (which would simulate a highly acidified ocean).

pH scale obtained with lombard cabbage indicator.

Macaronight 2019
Schoolchildren discovering the pH of everyday ingredients.

On the other hand, and taking advantage of the ECOTOUR Project, fom the MAC 2014-2020 Territorial Cooperation Call that we have active, we emphasized the environmental values that La Marciega hosts. This natural place, located in La Aldea (Gran Canaria), represents a refuge for the birdlife of the island through which the protagonist of our story, with the help of many schoolchildren during the morning, walked “without leaving trace in the environment”.

Thus, through a panel that highlighted the precautions to take into account when going through a natural environment, a series of “environmental challenges” similar to those in the famous table games were passed. Walking without leaving the trail, respecting the flora and fauna and avoiding making a fuss are some of the recommendations that were remembered and encouraged among schoolchildren to generate as little environmental impact as possible in our spare time outdoors.

Macaronight 2019
Schoolchildren during the game.
Macaronight 2019
The fair tent, during the chemical demonstrations.
Macaronight 2019
Moment of the game on environmental impacts framed in La Marciega and the ECOTOUR Project.