Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Want to Help with our Microplastics Project? Join a sorting team!

At the beach, it's easy to see litter items like bottles, cans and bags. But there are smaller plastics that may go undetected.  We wondered how many of these microplastics were on our beaches and we have been working with New Hampshire Sea Grant (NHSG) to find out.

From April through October, we went to five NH beaches once per month to look for microplastics (plastics between 1-5mm in size).  The beaches were several of our most popular local beaches: Wallis Sands, Jenness Beach, Hampton Beach, Hampton Harbor and Seabrook Beach.  During the sampling process, we sifted the top layer of sand in a one meter squared plot. The samples were bagged, and now it's time for the fun part: sorting!

During the sorting process, we separate organic and inorganic material, then sort the inorganic material into several categories: foams (Styrofoam or insulation pieces), fragments (hard plastic pieces), films (e.g., straw wrappers), filaments (e.g., pieces of synthetic rope or fabric), plastic pellets ("nurdles"), and cigarette parts.

The process is a bit tedious, but yet oddly relaxing. If you'd like to help, we have several sorting dates coming up. Sorting will occur in Portsmouth, but space is limited so please RSVP and we can provide location and directions. All supplies are provided and we'll do a brief orientation onsite.

Sorting dates:

  • Wednesday, November 16, 2016: 3:30 PM – 6:00 PM
  • Monday, November 21, 2016: 10:00 AM
  • Monday, November 21, 2016: 4:00 PM – 7:00 PM
  • Wednesday, November 30, 2016: 5:00 PM – 7:30 PM

If you'd like to join us, e-mail Jen at jen@blueoceansociety.org or call 603-431-0260.  Hope to see you there!

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