UN logos
Ocean research
Doing water sampling. Photo: Malin Kvamme

Plastic pollution in the middle of the Pacific Ocean

5 months ago
Written by Malin Kvamme
Ocean research > Plastic pollution in the middle of the Pacific Ocean

Plastic pollution in the middle of the Pacific Ocean

5 months agoOcean research
Written by Malin Kvamme
Doing water sampling. Photo: Malin Kvamme

Even the plankton samples the students take are contaminated with microplastics.

Several master's students from the University of Bergen take part in the One Ocean Expedition. Organised by the Norwegian Institute of Marine Research, they monitor the state of the ocean along the journey. Even in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, far from shore, there is plastic in the sea.

Andrea C. Opshaug is one of the research students, being on board Statsraad Lehmkuhl for the entire Pacific voyage from Valparaíso in Chile to Palau.

Andrea C. Opshaug. Photo: Malin Kvamme
Andrea C. Opshaug. Photo: Malin Kvamme

Exciting

She find it exciting, varied and very fun to be part of the expedition.

- The research would have been fun to learn anywhere, but the environment we are in makes the experience very unique, Opshaug says.

Prior to the expedition, research equipment was installed on board the ship. Some takes samples continuously and some is used manually. The equipment includes a wave sensor, a weather station, PCo2 meter, an instrument called a Ferry box, doing automatic sampling, and an echo sounder.

Taking water samples. Photo: Malin Kvamme
Taking water samples. Photo: Malin Kvamme

Along the way, eDNA samples - environmental DNA - are also taken. Water samples are filtered and analyzed for DNA. In addition, the ship is doing reseach stops one to three times a week. Then a CTD meter is used to measures salinity, and temperature at different depths. A plankton net is also often used, lowered to about 250 meters and taken up again to study the plankton content in the water.

Pieces of plastic have been found in several of these samples.

- It is a pity, but in several of the plankton tests we have done, we have found plastic. We are in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, and have been at sea for about three weeks. We have not seen a single ship since we left Valparaíso, but still we find traces of human activity. We find plastic where no other people are near us, and it's a little insane.

Checking the samples taken. Photo: Malin Kvamme
Checking the samples taken. Photo: Malin Kvamme

Open the eyes

Opshaug hopes that the expedition can make more people aware of how to take care the sea and think sustainably.

- It would have been great if the research we do now and the attention we create can help to open the eyes of more people, so that they care more about the ocean.

She finds it is disturbing that we humans affect the sea as much as we do, and urge us to work together to save the ocean.

- I do not think everyone understands how important the ocean is for all people on Earth. It would have been a dream if the One Ocean Expedition could help us keep the ocean healthy, because we all need that.

Translated by Ronald Toppe

One Ocean logoUN logos

The One Ocean Expedition is a circumnavigation by the Norwegian tall ship Statsraad Lehmkuhl. We aim to to share knowledge about the crucial role of the ocean for a sustainable development in a global perspective.

Website by TRY / Netlife