Making plastic waves
Updated: Mar 31, 2020
Imogen works for Veolia Environnement in the safe management of hazardous wastes specialising in complex environments worldwide. In March, she will set sail with eXXpedition on board the SV.TravelEdge, a scientific sailing yacht to sample plastic pollution levels in the South Pacific Ocean; one of the most complex issues of today.
During twenty-four days at sea, sailing from Rapa Nui (Easter Island) to Tahiti crossing the largest of the 5 oceanic gyres covering over 6000 km she'll sample an area where plastic waste accumulates in what is known as a garbage patch.
The 3 different sampling methods she’ll be using are
The Manta trawl – dragged behind the boat, it will pick up tiny particles of plastic mostly invisible to the naked eye from aboard the boat.
Niskin bottle – allows sampling of water at a depth of 10m picking up microplastics that are beneath the surface.
The Van Veen grab – a piece of equipment that samples sediment.
For the first time, a credible, data-based panorama of this environment can then be built from the data collected on the expedition. It is so important to carry out this type of immersive, field-based research in these vortexes of ocean waste to demonstrate the impact of humankind on our planet in the least visible spots such as the ocean, bringing to those who are unable to access such far-flung places concrete answers. The expected results are already worrying.
Land-based plastic leakage creates more problems than you might think by disintegrating and dissolving their chemical coatings when faced with turbid waters and strong UV light exposure.
The ultimate goal of Imogen’s expedition is to advance our knowledge in discovering the origin of plastics and to move towards closing the tap of these pollutant leakages from land. They are dangerous in their existence not only in the marine environment but to the wealth of our entire planet.