microplastics HUGE problem

Jun 7, 2017 at 5:10 PM by Danika Strecko

Ever wondered where plastic comes from or where it goes after you have finished using it? Learn techniques used by our Ocean Pollution Research team to discover the big impact microplastics have on our environment and the animals that live here.

In our ninth series of the season we get down to the nitty gritty behind our Ocean Pollution Research. We will follow plastics up the food chain looking at how it can effect larger marine mammals like Sea Otters and Sea Lions. Then it is off to the beach (close toed shoes required) to collect our own sand samples for analysis. Using a specially designed protocol from our plastics lab we are trying to extract plastics from the shoreline sediment and look at them under the microscope.

What did we do today?

  • we learned what microplastics are and where they come from.
  • we visited our sea otters and connected how microplastics move up the food chain through filter feeders into the stomachs of larger animals.
  • went to the beach and practiced sand sampling techniques used in the field.
  • used unique filtration protocol to separate sand and plastics and then examined samples under the microscope.

Questions to ask your Jr. Biologists

  1. Why are microplastics bad for the environment?
  2. What research is the Vancouver Aquarium doing to help look after our oceans and the animals that live there?
  3. What animals eat microplastics?
  4. What can we do to help reduce plastics in our oceans?