Plastic Debris Research Projects:
DEPOSITION AND ACCUMULATION OF MICROPLASTICS AND POLLUTANTS IN MARINE SEDIMENTS FROM THE IRISH CONTINENTAL SHELF (2016 – present)
The production, use and disposal of plastics in modern society are a global problem. Plastics can enter the marine environment and become marine debris. Microplastics are of considerable concern: they are distributed globally in marine ecosystems. Microplastics have been found in surface waters and shorelines and it appears that microplastics are settling in offshore sediments following deposition. This project compares two different methods to identify microplastics in replicate sediments from the Irish continental shelf. The presence of microplastics (and other pollutants i.e. metals) in surface sediments will be assessed in two areas: (1) West of Galway and (2) West of Mayo/Sligo to compare the impact of heavy industry (1) to a more remote location (2). The information ascertained from this project will lay the foundations for an in-depth study of microplastics and pollution in sediments, and interactions with marine biota in high sedimentation areas.
MICROPLASTICS AND MARINE MAMMALS (2012- present)
Microplastic is recognized as a global contaminant of concern. In addition to contamination in the environment (i.e. on beaches and in our oceans), there is evidence of microplastic contamination in wildlife. Many species have been shown to eat microplastic in laboratory studies and in nature. Ingestion of microplastic and macroplastic by marine mammals can be hard to study. We developed a novel method to allow the study of microplastics in marine mammal species. In collaboration with Dr Gema Hernandez-Milian, we are investigating the presence of interaction of cetaceans with marine plastic pollution.
DISTRIBUTION AND INTERACTION OF MICROPLASTICS IN THE NORTH ATLANTIC (2013-2015)
MICROPLASTICS IN THE ARCTIC (2014-2015)
REPRODUCTIVE EFFECTS OF ENDOCRINE DISRUPTING CHEMICALS (2011-2012)
MICROPLASTIC INGESTION BY COMMERCIALLY IMPORTANT FISH SPECIES (2010-2011)