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).

Celebrating Ocean’s Day at the Marine Sciences Faculty

The Faculty of Marine Sciences (FCM) of the University of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria (ULPGC) joined the celebration of World Ocean’s Day, organizing the Informative Day: “For a Plastic Free Faculty” last Friday, June 7th.

Día de los Océanos

A number of associations and initiatives participated in the Informative Day sharing a common concern: the environmental threat posed by single-use plastics. As such, several actions and initiatives were presented with the aim of raising awareness and unveiling local alternatives for change.

The Microtrophic and MARCET projects, both developed by ULPGC research groups that work with on microplastic research, were also presented as part of the day. On the latter, the work carried out by the research group in Technologies, Management and Environmental Biogeochemistry was briefly explained, in collaboration with the Institute of Animal Health and Food Safety (IUSA), and other entities in the Macaronesian Region, such as the Museu da Baleia and SailingLivingLab.

Photographs of Ethel Bartrán (“Vigilia to the Ocean”) and Carlos Reyes and Teo Lucas were exhibited in the entrance hall of the faculty. In addition, the children’s book “Si lo peces hablaran” by Sandra Santa Cruz, as well as the project “Conscious Diving”, from the Buceo Norte Diving Centre, were presented.

The documentary ‘Hondar 2050: Our Waste, Our Problem‘, an independent medium film of the director Cesare Maglioni on marine litter on the Basque coast was presented by the NGO Muévete por el Clima. After the screening, a series of brief “anti-plastic pollution” initiatives were presented, all of them based in the Canary Islands. The action through activism was presented by the NGO Ecologistas en Acción, and some alternatives to single-use plastic were proposed by Oceanográfica and Latitud Azul. Finally, plastic cleaning and recovery actions, were presented by the Canary Islands platforms Canarias Libre de Plásticos and Precious Plastic Canarias.

La Facultad de Ciencias del Mar celebró el viernes 7 de junio el Día Mundial de los Océanos

Thanks to the support of the Vicecouncil of the Environment of the Government of the Canary Islands and the University’s Sustainability Office, reusable bottles were delivered to everyone of the attendees, who enjoyed a vegan snack prepared with local and plastic-free products, by Vegamundo.

(*) More information and photographs are provided on the website of the Marine Sciences Faculty and its album on Flickr.

We revisited the training centre in San Roque to tackle the issue of microplastic pollution

On 28 May we revisited the students of San Roque participating, in a new session at the Municipal Centre for Trainment and Employment of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria for the dissemination of the state of the art of the problem of marine debris, especially microplastics.

Jornada en PFAE San Roque
Moment of the day, in the Training Centre of San Roque, “chatting” on microplastics.

Microplastics are being studied in the doctoral thesis that develops Tania Montoto, belonging to the research group since 2015. She has also worked in organizations such as Ecologistas en Acción raising awareness of the environmental problem involved in the massive entry of plastics into the marine environment. As a result of the work in this organization, she published, as a co-author, a report in January 2017 conerning this environmental problem. The report gathers more than 300 scientific studies and is listed among the reference materials of the National Center for Environmental Education (CENEAM) in the webpage of the Ministry for the Ecological Transition.

Infographics on the impacts of micro and plastic in the biota extracted from the report “Marine wastes, plastics and microplastics: Origins, impacts and consequences of a global threat” (Rojo-Nieto, E. and Amountto-Martínez, T.; 2017)

From the point of view of the research, data of very recent and relevant studies was shown, and audiovisual materials were provided as tools to deepen in aspects such as the impacts of the microbeads present in certain cosmetic products. Thus, the talk began with a review of the origins, impacts and ubiquity of these synthetic particles in the environment, ending with a few alternatives and proposals that, as citizenship we can carry out to temper the situation.

The visit was also an opportunity to diseminate some of the projects that are developed from the research group, especially MARCET, within the framework of which we are developing some interesting research tasks related to abundance and distribution of microplastics in seawater of the region, as well as in the stomach contents of stranded cetaceans.