More Than Meets the Eye: Contribute to the World’s Largest Microplastics Dataset

Kt taking a microplastics water sample in the Julien Alps.
Kt Miller taking a microplastics water sample in the Julian Alps. (Photo by Enrico Mosetti)

Jenna Walenga, Adventurers and Scientists for Conservation’s Microplastics Program Manager, is currently recruiting for our Microplastics project. This is an emerging global issue, and by growing and mobilizing our incredible network of outdoor adventurers, we plan to tackle it head-on. We are currently compiling the largest microplastics data set ever collected. Jenna’s call-to-action:

By now, you may be familiar with microplastics and the damage they are doing to our oceans. We have found these harmful tiny plastic particles suspended throughout the water column, from samples taken five meters below the surface in the South Pacific waters of Palau, to the Antarctic Peninsula. As we continue to study samples from our volunteers around the globe, it is rare to find water that is microplastic free.

The United Nations has taken notice of the issue, calling microplastics an “urgent” problem and describing their marine presence as “an emerging issue of international concern.”

So what is the next step? At ASC, we’re looking upstream, examining freshwater lakes and rivers worldwide. Volunteers can send samples from any body of water they encounter on their explorations. We’re recruiting backpackers, climbers, bikers, kayakers and other water lovers worldwide.

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ASC adventurer Trent Banks samples in the Spanish Peaks, Montana. (Photo by Jenna Walenga)

Our preliminary freshwater samples show that some of the most pristine mountain waters carry microplastics in their currents. Even there, this element that seems so pure and wild isn’t immune to the impacts of human pollution. Samples collected from the headwaters of the Missouri River in Montana have all contained a variety of microplastic particles. These particles will make their way down to the Mississippi River and, eventually, into the Gulf of Mexico.

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