Skip to main content


Sampling for microplastics off the west coast of Ireland

19 Aug 2022

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.

Marine Geosciences Research Group

University College Cork

School of Biological, Earth and Environmental Sciences, North Mall Campus, University College Cork, North Mall, Cork City, T23 TK30