Sampling for microplastics off the west coast of Ireland
Dr Alicia Mateos Cardenas provides us with the second of three blog posts from our most recent research survey
I am Dr Alicia Mateos Cardenas, a postdoc working in the UCC Marine Geosciences team on a Marine Institute funded project on microplastics. I am very interested in understanding the anthropogenic impacts of pollution in the environment. So, as part of my postdoc, I am investigating the presence of microplastics in marine Special Areas of Conservation (SACs) which are also key habitats for cold water corals. The preliminary results from a previous survey actually indicate that litter and microplastics are present in our areas of study, unfortunately.
From left to right: plankton net used to sample surface waters, some corals in a petri dish and the sunset, CTD coming back from 950 meters deep with water column samples and Alicia all geared up on deck for sampling
I was delighted to be able to join this year’s research cruise (SPeeD: CE22013) on the RV Celtic Explorer for the first time and to be in charge of the work related to microplastic sampling! I was very lucky to be able to collect several samples for my studies in a short amount of time and enjoy stunning sunsets.
In total, we collected surface water samples using a plankton net, water column samples using a CTD rosette and a diverse amount of cold-water coral species. I am now very excited to be back in the lab and have a look at all these new water and coral samples collected from 0 to 950 meters deep! Do cold-water coral ingest microplastics, we will see.