Wednesday, April 9, 2014

April Microplastics Beach Blitz is in Full Swing

Our new recruits! 2 beaches down, several more to go!
Finally!! After a very long winter and some panic that the weather would not improve in time for microplastics sampling season, here we are, in full sampling mode!  We have had several successful training sessions at the Blue Ocean Discovery Center in Hampton and I am so pleased with our new recruits! Their patience and eagerness to help out with this "kinks-still-being-ironed-out" project has been refreshing and really enjoyable.  The microplastics study is really exciting and interesting but it is also a work in progress as we try and figure out the best way to sample our beaches given the weather, topography, the number of volunteers and the time that it requires. With all this in mind, the fact that we have such enthusiastic volunteers is wonderful and I thank you!

Wallis Sands State Park-sampled April 7, 2014
For the entire month of April, we will be sampling 12-15 NH beaches and I am pleased to say that we have completed two beaches already, Hampton Beach State Park and Wallis Sands State Park. Both of these sampling outings took place on gorgeous days, which made the time pass by! These two beaches are part of 5 beaches where we have added two more sites with the hope of capturing more of  a "microplastics signal".  By adding more samples, we hypothesize that we will be able to collect more microplastics and get a better idea of how and where microplastics are accumulating. Thus far, we have observed that microplastic accumulations appear to be very patchy. Hopefully, this subset of beaches with the extra samples will help elucidate some patterns so that we can modify our protocols if need be.
Microplastics on our beaches-this is what we are looking for!
In addition to some new Blue Ocean volunteers, we have a star team from the Coastal Research Volunteers (CRV) from UNH. This group of 5 are returning to sample more beaches and they have experience with the protocols and the technology and have been eager to get going. They will be sampling 4-5 beaches that have one designated sampling site.

We hope to finish our sampling by April 30th and we have some dates reserved for the next phase of the data collection- SORTING! Sorting the samples will occur in May which will then give us time to enter the data and do some preliminary analyses before we have our final sampling blitz in August.

We are always looking for extra hands so if you are interested in volunteering, please get in touch with Gabby Bradt or Jen Kennedy for more information.

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