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Ocean Microplastics

A citizen science collaboration with legendary yachtsman Jon Sanders

In 2018, WA-OIGC teamed up with legendary single-handed yachtsman Jon Sanders in a citizen science project to measure microplastics during his 11th solo circumnavigation of the globe.

Jon Sanders during field trials of the filtration system on-board Perie Banou II
Jon Sanders during field trials of the filtration system on-board Perie Banou II

Working closely with Jon and his team, WA-OIGC researchers designed a plastic-free water filtration system that could be operated by Jon from the relative safety of inside the bow of his yacht Perie Banou II.

During the voyage, Jon sampled an average 115 L of seawater every day. When in Port, Jon sent the stainless steel filters back to WA-OIGC where they were processed and analysed by Fourier Transform Infrared Spectroscopy (FTIR) by Alan Scarlett.

So far, nearly every filter has contained microplastics. The final set of samples were handed to WA-OIGC director Prof. Kliti Grice when Jon returned to Fremantle on 31st January after his 455-day voyage.

Jon’s voyage was crowd-funded by the Minderoo foundation, local businesses and the general public. WA-OIGC contributed expertise and analyses of the microplastics free of charge.

A profile of Jon Sanders, his 11th circumnavigation and the microplastics project was reported by the Guardian and other media outlets. Jon’s blog from his voyage is available here.