Bioavailability and biological effects of microscopic plastic debris in the ocean

Lead Research Organisation: Plymouth Marine Laboratory
Department Name: Plymouth Marine Lab

Abstract

Every year, millions of tonnes of plastic debris is discarded as waste and marine plastic litter is emerging as both a threat to the oceans and a major challenge for society to manage. Once plastic waste has entered the sea, the combined action of winds and tides leads to the fragmentation of larger plastic debris into microscopic particles. These microscopic particles have become so numerous, either floating in the ocean or accumulating in sediments and on shorelines, that they are emerging as a global conservation issue of high concern.

We have been studying what happens when microplastics are ingested by marine organisms at the lower end of the marine food web, including zooplankton that swim and feed in surface waters and marine worms that live in sediments at the ocean bottom. In our laboratory studies, ingestion of microplastics alongside food items led to reductions in body mass and reproduction. After the particles had been egested, they sank more slowly in the water column. This is important because the biomass of zooplankton and worms (so-called secondary producers) and the sinking rates of faecal pellets, are extremely important for the cycling of carbon and other nutrients in the oceans, which in turn is central to supporting all marine life.

In this proposal, we will build on these early findings to determine their significance for ocean life. We will study in detail how much microscopic plastic is actually being ingested by zooplankton collected from sites near to shorelines in UK waters. We will take samples from across a yearly cycle to understand how the abundance of plastic debris and its ingestion by zooplankton vary with seasonal cycles. We will study the factors such as size, shape and type of plastic that influence how much microplastic is consumed and the biological effects that it may have on organisms in the aquarium.

We will enter these results into models of ocean functions to predict what sites, if any, are most vulnerable to microplastics contamination and where the densities of microplastics may become comparable to those of invertebrate prey items. We will then use models to predict the impacts of this contamination on important ocean functions, such as the types of animals present and the cycling of both carbon and nutrients throughout the water column.

This project will provide important scientific results to improve our understanding of key ecological functions in the oceans, illustrate how our discarded waste materials may be capable of impacting on important ocean processes, and may highlight vulnerable sites or species that require special protection. This data will be of use to environmental managers and policy makers who are required by law to keep our seas clean and reduce the risk of direct or indirect harm to human and ocean health. Ultimately the results are important to everyone in society, and may help to build up a body of evidence to encourage us not to litter in the first place.

Planned Impact

This research project has been designed with direct input from stakeholders involved in marine litter from the very start and is designed to have an impact beyond its immediate academic environment. Its influence will be principally within the academic disciplines of the applicants, ecotoxicology, molecular ecology and biogeochemical modelling of ocean processes, but will extend to the environmental risk assessment and marine sciences communities and the scientists and policy professionals concerned with environmental protection.

The main group to benefit from the results of this research will be ecotoxicologists who are concerned with understanding how environmental pollutants interact with living systems, and molecular ecologists who study the mechanisms of temporal and spatial control of gene activity and its relationship with physiological function. Scientists in these disciplines will benefit from the specific information relating to microscopic marine plastic debris, its bioaccumulation, interaction with body systems and potential to influence large scale ocean processes.

In addition, human and ecological risk assessment professionals concerned with the international regulation of chemicals and substances will be interested in the results, since the safety assessment of environmental substances requires a sound weight of scientific evidence on which to base regulatory decisions. To adequately assess the risks posed by marine litter and the chemicals that may be associated with it, we need to know about their inherent properties of the chemicals and polymeric substances themselves (hazard) and to what extent organisms come into contact with them (exposure). A better appreciation of the ways in which marine litter is processed by regulatory systems in the body and the wider influence that this may have at the population level presents a subject of huge potential interest and relevance.

This will also be of potential interest to organisations such as the Food Packaging Forum which is a charitable, non-profit organisation established to identify and communicate high quality scientific information about food contact materials, their health implications and patterns of discard and recycling, since so much of the marine litter in the environment is derived from food packaging. Individuals in the plastics industries (through organisations such as Plastics Europe) and their associated groupings, such as the Global Polymer Innovations network and related Green Chemistry initiatives are all relevant and likely to be interested, since most manufacturers are very keen to work towards reducing marine litter and would be helped with directly relevant data on what impact it may be having

Finally, those charged with implementing policies designed to protect the marine environment will be interested in the results of our research. The Marine strategy Framework Directive (MSFD) Descriptor 10: Marine Litter (see pathways to impact for more details) is implemented through the OSPAR commission (Oslo Paris Convention) and ICES (International Council for the Exploration of the Seas). OSPAR's research priorities relating to marine litter are coordinated through the EU Technical Review Group on Marine Litter (part of the OSPAR Environmental Impact of Human Activities Committee, EIHA). The MSFD requires that all EU member states consider how Good Environmental Status (GES) for that descriptor will be achieved by 2020. Thus there is a huge policy driver to identify how marine litter and microplastics in particular may be impacting on marine life and how to set realistic targets to control marine litter. (see pathways to impact section for further details of our policy interactions).

Publications

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Steer M (2017) Microplastic ingestion in fish larvae in the western English Channel. in Environmental pollution (Barking, Essex : 1987)

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Nelms SE (2018) Investigating microplastic trophic transfer in marine top predators. in Environmental pollution (Barking, Essex : 1987)

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Botterell ZLR (2019) Bioavailability and effects of microplastics on marine zooplankton: A review. in Environmental pollution (Barking, Essex : 1987)

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Coppock RL (2017) A small-scale, portable method for extracting microplastics from marine sediments. in Environmental pollution (Barking, Essex : 1987)

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Duncan EM (2019) Microplastic ingestion ubiquitous in marine turtles. in Global change biology

 
Title Filming of microplastic sampling 
Description Filming was undertaken on-board Plymouth Marine Laboratory's Research Vessel 'Plymouth Quest' during pelagic and benthic microplastic sampling in the coastal waters around Plymouth. 
Type Of Art Film/Video/Animation 
Year Produced 2016 
Impact Some of the film clips will be used by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation in their promotion for a circular economy. 
 
Title Plastic Oceans; 'working scientifically' films and lesson plans for GCSE Science 
Description A series of four films and lesson plans have been developed by Digital Explorer with scientists from University of Exeter and our research group at Plymouth Marine Laboratory. These 'Working scientifically' films for GCSE Science allow students to develop their science skills through learning from a professional research team investigating the impact of microplastics on the marine ecosystem. 
Type Of Art Film/Video/Animation 
Year Produced 2015 
Impact None yet 
URL http://digitalexplorer.com/resources/bank/?collection=plastic-oceans-14-16
 
Title Poetry and Marine Science Crosscurrents project. 
Description Pennie Lindeque (paired with poet Luke Thompson, from University of Exeter) presented an element of microplastic research on the 22nd March at the poetry and marine science event, as part of the Crosscurrents project. 
Type Of Art Creative Writing 
Year Produced 2017 
Impact Following the crosscurrents poetry event Pennie Lindeque was invited to attend a meeting organized by Plymouth History Centre (Plymouth Museum) to discuss the potential for microplastic research to be used as a contemporary narrative for Marine Science in Plymouth for the new marine display in the History Centre set to open in 2020. 
 
Description We have found more evidence of the widespread impact plastic pollution could have on the marine environment. Tiny marine creatures called zooplankton readily ingest "microplastics", plastic debris smaller than one mm in size. This plastic is later excreted within their faecal pellets.
In the marine environment, normal faecal pellets help transport carbon and nutrients into deeper waters, helping the ocean store carbon and providing food for animals living within the water column.
This new study showed plankton that ate polystyrene microplastics produced faeces that were lighter than normal and therefore sank more slowly. This could have an affect on the ability of the ocean to cycle carbon and nutrients. Also, because these pellets sink slower there is a greater opportunity for them to be eaten by animals, demonstrating that microplastics can be indirectly ingested by other animals who consume these faecal pellets.
In addition as part of this grant we have developed a particle tracking model as a tool to determine the distribution, accumulation and resident time of microplastics in the marine environment. The model has provided guidance to our field sampling campaign and has been used to trace the likely path taken by microplastics released from major cities around the South West UK. We have also built a model of the impact of microplastic ingestion on zooplankton growth and reproduction. In the final stage of the project, this will be used with the marine ecosystem model ERSEM to predict the possible impact of ingestion on the dynamics of marine microbial communities.
Exploitation Route The next step is to ascertain if these findings hold true in the natural environment, and if so to what extent.
The particle tracking model can be readily used to track the fate of plastics (or pollutants in general) in other areas, both locally and around the globe.
Sectors Agriculture, Food and Drink,Education,Environment

 
Description Our findings have been used to make a TV article for BBC Inside Out Southwest demonstrating the effects of microplastic pollution on marine ecosystems. Following the broadcast our research group have been asked to give talks and provide information including to the Woman's Institute. The WI have shortlisted eight resolutions for further debate, one of which is to take action to reduce the use of plastic microbead-containing products in their own homes and communities; to raise awareness of the problems associated with plastic microbeads; and to lobby manufacturers, retailers and see the UK Government following in the steps of the Netherlands and other countries in proposing a ban on the use of these products. Following information provided by us we know of local WI groups that have voted for this resolution. The national vote takes place later this year. Findings from our research have been used to contribute to the POSTNOTE enquiry and publication on Marine microplastic pollution. In addition our findings were presented at the House of Lords reception in June 2016 and to the Parliamentary and Scientific Committee at Westminster in July 2016 during their discussion meeting on 'What should we do about plastics?'. Results from the modelling work have been used within an article published by the Plymouth Herald that looked at the transport of pollutants out of Plymouth Sound and toward Whitsand Bay. Based on modelling tools developed during the project, evidence was also provided to Cefas and the Marine Management Organisation regarding plans to relocate the disposal site for dredged material from the Tamar Estuary. Our research continues to be widely disseminated by the media, reaching a large non-academic audience. This knowledge exchange includes being interviewed for/ or our research featured on: Food Unwrapped (Channel 4, 2017), Blue Planet II (BBC One, 2017) and Springwatch (BBC One, 2018), Countryfile (2018) and BBC Radio Devon (2017), El Jazeera's award winning environmental show (2018), ITN news (2018), cinematic feature documentary called "Eating our way to extinction" (2018), Plastic Britain documentary (2018), and a documentary celebrating the anniversary of the Mayflower leaving Plymouth (2018). Our results continue to be disseminated to a wide audience including many news articles, talks and workshops. This includes a talk as a guest speaker at the Westcountry Wonderwoman event (2018), a talk to a local conservation group, and on-going collaboration with a marine warriors team from Kingsbridge Community College. In addition I received funding and ran an international workshop in Peru on Marine Plastic Debris, including a presentation to a stakeholder group involving Peruvian ministers and the British Ambassador to Peru. Outputs and impacts from this grant have been recognised as, alongside colleagues from the University of Exeter and the University of Plymouth, we won the Societal Impact category and overall prize in the Natural Environment Research Council's (NERC) 2018 Impact Awards. The accolades recognise our efforts to bring the causes and effects of plastic pollution, and in particular microplastics, to the attention of policy makers, industry and the general public globally.
First Year Of Impact 2015
Sector Aerospace, Defence and Marine,Education,Environment,Government, Democracy and Justice
Impact Types Societal,Policy & public services

 
Description Acknowledged in UK Government POSTnote on Marine Microplastic Pollution
Geographic Reach National 
Policy Influence Type Gave evidence to a government review
URL http://researchbriefings.parliament.uk/ResearchBriefing/Summary/POST-PN-0528?utm_source=website&utm_...
 
Description Consulted on UK Houses of Parliament POSTnote on Microplastics in the Marine Environment
Geographic Reach National 
Policy Influence Type Implementation circular/rapid advice/letter to e.g. Ministry of Health
URL http://researchbriefings.parliament.uk/ResearchBriefing/Summary/POST-PN-0528
 
Description Consulted on UK Houses of Parliament POSTnote on Microplastics in the Marine Environment (in preparation)
Geographic Reach National 
Policy Influence Type Implementation circular/rapid advice/letter to e.g. Ministry of Health
 
Description DEFRA Evidence Workshop on Marine Plastic Pollution
Geographic Reach National 
Policy Influence Type Membership of a guideline committee
 
Description Provided written evidence to Environmental Audit Committee Inquiry into the Environmental impact of microplastics
Geographic Reach National 
Policy Influence Type Gave evidence to a government review
URL http://data.parliament.uk/writtenevidence/committeeevidence.svc/evidencedocument/environmental-audit...
 
Description Response to the MMO evidence requirement R064 for the environmental impacts of marine litter.
Geographic Reach National 
Policy Influence Type Implementation circular/rapid advice/letter to e.g. Ministry of Health
 
Description EnvEast Doctoral Training Partnership
Amount £88,500 (GBP)
Organisation University of East Anglia 
Department EnvEast NERC Doctoral Training Partnership
Sector Academic/University
Country United Kingdom
Start 10/2017 
End 03/2021
 
Description GW4+ Doctoral Training Partnership - PhD student - Sarah Nelms
Amount £88,500 (GBP)
Funding ID NE/L002434/1 
Organisation Natural Environment Research Council 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 10/2015 
End 09/2019
 
Description GW4+ Doctoral Training Partnership - PhD student Rachel Coppock
Amount £88,500 (GBP)
Funding ID NE/L002434/1 
Organisation Natural Environment Research Council 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 10/2015 
End 09/2019
 
Description People's Postcode Lottery
Amount £500,000 (GBP)
Organisation The Ellen MacArthur Foundation 
Sector Charity/Non Profit
Country Unknown
Start 02/2016 
End 01/2018
 
Description RESMALI: Remote Sensing of Marine Litter
Amount £100,000 (GBP)
Funding ID Ref: 4000120879 
Organisation European Space Agency 
Sector Public
Country France
Start 09/2017 
End 09/2018
 
Description • NERC EnvEast PhD, 'Does microplastic pollution pose a risk to marine life and food security?'.
Amount £88,500 (GBP)
Organisation Natural Environment Research Council 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 10/2018 
End 04/2022
 
Description • Newton-Paulet Fund Research Link Workshop, to co-host a microplastic workshop in Peru.
Amount £45,000 (GBP)
Organisation British Council 
Sector Charity/Non Profit
Country United Kingdom
Start 10/2018 
 
Title Sediment-microplastic isolation unit 
Description Cheap, effective method for microplastic extraction from sediments. High, reproducible recovery rates - 95.8%. 
Type Of Material Biological samples 
Year Produced 2017 
Provided To Others? Yes  
Impact Method has been used all over the globe with requests for guidance and unit construction coming from nearly every continent Citation Indexes: 20 Readers: 386 Shares, Likes & Comments: 89 Tweets: 82 
URL https://www.researchgate.net/publication/318562854_A_small-scale_portable_method_for_extracting_micr...
 
Title Collection of waterborne microplastics, and zooplankton to ascertain ingestion of microplastic 
Description Over 8,000 zooplankton, including fish larvae, have been collected and analysed for ingestion of microplastic. Associated waterborne microplastic has also been sampled and analysed over an 18 month period from 6 sampling sites in Plymouth coastal waters and the Western Channel Observatory. 
Type Of Material Database/Collection of data 
Year Produced 2018 
Provided To Others? No  
Impact None yet 
 
Title Grazing response to microplastic presence in copepods 
Description Small model describing the impact of microplastic on the grazing of copepod taking into account the possibility of various response from the animal and tracking impact on the growth/reproductive capacity of the animal 
Type Of Material Data analysis technique 
Provided To Others? No  
Impact The model is to be included within a marine ecosystem setting (ERSEM) in order to track impact of microplastic on biogeochemical cycles and system productivity. 
 
Title PyLag - A tool for modelling particle transport and dispersion in the the marine environment 
Description PyLag is a new particle tracking tool that is written in a mixture of the programming languages Python and Cython. Written using object orientated design principles, it is readily extensible, and can in principle simulate the transport of a range of different particulates, ranging from marine pollutants such as microplastics, to fish larvae. It presently includes support for two different hydrodynamic models: FVCOM and GOTM. However, it is relatively easy to add support for different hydrodynamic models, and it is anticipated support for NEMO will be added in the near future. The model has also been parallelised, and can be used on both desktop computers and modern super computers. 
Type Of Material Computer model/algorithm 
Year Produced 2015 
Provided To Others? Yes  
Impact The model has been used to simulate the transport and dispersal of microplastics around the SW UK coastline, and used to inform field sampling work. Outputs from the model have been used as background material in two Masters projects on microplastics. The model is currently being used by a PhD student at the University of Exeter to simulate the dispersal of Sea Fan larvae. It has also been used to simulate the dispersal of dredged material from various proposed dumping sites near to Plymouth, with results presented to both Cefas and the Marine Management Organisation. 
URL http://www.pml.ac.uk/Modelling/Models/Physical_models_and_couplers
 
Title PyLag-tools - A plotting library for analysisg PyLag model outputs 
Description PyLag-tools provides a set of classes and functions to help with plotting and analysing output from the particle tracking tool PyLag. It is written in Python and is stored under version control in a git repository hosted by PML. 
Type Of Material Computer model/algorithm 
Year Produced 2015 
Provided To Others? Yes  
Impact The tool has been used by a PhD student at the University of Exeter in his project looking at the dispersal of sea fan larvae, and to produce plots for Masters students, who then incorporated these into their theses. 
URL http://www.pml.ac.uk/Modelling/Models/Physical_models_and_couplers
 
Description Building a network of industry, government, and third sector organisations with a vested interest in marine (micro)plastic pollution 
Organisation Department For Environment, Food And Rural Affairs (DEFRA)
Department Marine Management Organisation (MMO)
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Public 
PI Contribution Established links and connections with members of the aforementioned organisations. Prepared a funding proposal for NERC Innovations proposal.
Collaborator Contribution Engaged with and supported the proposed project.
Impact Prepared a NERC Innovations proposal which was not funded this time round, but which will be resubmitted in a reformed state in 2016.
Start Year 2015
 
Description Building a network of industry, government, and third sector organisations with a vested interest in marine (micro)plastic pollution 
Organisation Department For Environment, Food And Rural Affairs (DEFRA)
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Public 
PI Contribution Established links and connections with members of the aforementioned organisations. Prepared a funding proposal for NERC Innovations proposal.
Collaborator Contribution Engaged with and supported the proposed project.
Impact Prepared a NERC Innovations proposal which was not funded this time round, but which will be resubmitted in a reformed state in 2016.
Start Year 2015
 
Description Building a network of industry, government, and third sector organisations with a vested interest in marine (micro)plastic pollution 
Organisation Fauna & Flora International
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Charity/Non Profit 
PI Contribution Established links and connections with members of the aforementioned organisations. Prepared a funding proposal for NERC Innovations proposal.
Collaborator Contribution Engaged with and supported the proposed project.
Impact Prepared a NERC Innovations proposal which was not funded this time round, but which will be resubmitted in a reformed state in 2016.
Start Year 2015
 
Description Building a network of industry, government, and third sector organisations with a vested interest in marine (micro)plastic pollution 
Organisation National Foundation for Educational Research (NFER)
Department Futurelab
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Charity/Non Profit 
PI Contribution Established links and connections with members of the aforementioned organisations. Prepared a funding proposal for NERC Innovations proposal.
Collaborator Contribution Engaged with and supported the proposed project.
Impact Prepared a NERC Innovations proposal which was not funded this time round, but which will be resubmitted in a reformed state in 2016.
Start Year 2015
 
Description Building a network of industry, government, and third sector organisations with a vested interest in marine (micro)plastic pollution 
Organisation University of Exeter
Department Marine Ecology and Conservation Network
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Established links and connections with members of the aforementioned organisations. Prepared a funding proposal for NERC Innovations proposal.
Collaborator Contribution Engaged with and supported the proposed project.
Impact Prepared a NERC Innovations proposal which was not funded this time round, but which will be resubmitted in a reformed state in 2016.
Start Year 2015
 
Description Evolution of a multi-insitute microplastic team 
Organisation University of Exeter
Department Centre for Ecology and Conservation (CEC)
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Intellectual input to further plastic research in the marine environment.
Collaborator Contribution Intellectual input to further plastic research in the marine environment.
Impact Supervision of 1 MSc and 3 PhD students. Participation in Marine Ecology and Conservation network workshop; 'Dealing with the plastic problem: Cornwall as a global example.' Presentation at the University of Exeter-PML Science day.
Start Year 2015
 
Description Southwest Marine Ecology and Conservation Group 
Organisation University of Exeter
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Participation and presentations at workshops on the problems of plastic pollution and moving towards solutions and a circular economy. Contribution to final report.
Collaborator Contribution Organising meetings and workshops, production of final report.
Impact Report produced on 'Dealing with the plastic problem: Cornwall as a world-leading example', April 2016 The first targeted workshop hosted by the University of Exeter's Marine Ecology and Conservation Network focused on the issue of plastic marine litter. 32 individuals were brought together from a range of sectors with specific interests in the issue. The aim was to begin to formulate achievable actions "Dealing with the plastic problem: Cornwall as a world-leading example." During discussions the over-arching topics covered were: 1. The key unknown impacts - social, economic and ecological. 2. The possible solutions - what is already happening and areas where there is a need for innovation. 3. The opportunities and barriers to facilitating desired changes. The group agreed that there was a strong will to progress this agenda in Cornwall but that there was a clear need for wider collaboration with additional sectors including tourism, retail and industry (production and waste management), particularly the fishing industry.
Start Year 2015
 
Description 'Plastic Oceans Workshop' in Aix-enPorvence (Matthew Cole) 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact Matthew Cole attended and contributed to 'Plastic Oceans Workshop' in Aix-enPorvence, France (December 2017), bringing together industry, NGOs and scientists, and is actively contributing to a follow-up report.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description 6th International Zooplankton Production Symposium, Bergen (May 2016) 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Pennie Lindeque gave an invited presentation "Plastics and plankton: what do we know" at a specialist microplastic session at the 6th International Zooplankton Production Symposium in Bergen (May 2016).
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
 
Description Article for MBAs Marine Biologist publication 
Form Of Engagement Activity A magazine, newsletter or online publication
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Pennie Lindeque wrote an article for the Marine Biology Association's Marine Biologist Publication on 'Plastics and Plankton' to highlight the problem of small plastics on small animals towards the base of the marine food web.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
 
Description Article for the International Council for Exploration of the Sea online news page. 
Form Of Engagement Activity A magazine, newsletter or online publication
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Pennie Lindeque was requested to write a feature article on Plastics and Plankton for the ICES online news page, published in August. The article triggered interest in this research from other media and publishing parties.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
 
Description Attended and contributed to a UN Environment expert workshop on 'Marine plastics' 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Matthew Cole attended and contributed to a UN Environment expert workshop on 'Marine plastics' in Paris, France (February 2018).
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description Aune Conservation Association talk 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Talk to the local Aune Conservation Association on the problem of plastic pollution in the marine environment.
Audience reported an increased interest in the subject, and a shock at the extent of the problem, 100% of the audience reported that they would change their behaviour with regards to the use of single use plastic and would set up local river and beach cleans.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description BBC Radio Devon live interview on PMLs microplastic research 
Form Of Engagement Activity A broadcast e.g. TV/radio/film/podcast (other than news/press)
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Media (as a channel to the public)
Results and Impact Monday 5th October 2015 Pennie Lindeque gave a live interview with Simon Bates on BBC Radio Devon about our microplastic research at Plymouth Marine Laboratory. Following the live broadcasts phone-ins and emails demonstrated the interest and support for this important research and concern for our marine environment.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
URL http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p032hrmw#play
 
Description BBC feature made on microplastics in the marine environment for Inside Out Southwest 
Form Of Engagement Activity A broadcast e.g. TV/radio/film/podcast (other than news/press)
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact We worked with presenter Nick Baker and producer Jo Horsey to produce a feature for the TV program Inside Out Southwest on microplastics in the marine environment. The film was shown on BBC 1, Inside Out, 7.30pm, Monday 5th October.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
 
Description Big Bang event @ Plymouth City College, 8 June 2015 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Schools
Results and Impact Every year, millions of tonnes of plastic debris end up in our oceans posing a threat to marine life. The problems of big plastics are clearly evident but what about the small plastics that no one can see? Visitors to the PML stand at the Big Bang Southwest event met with marine scientists to find out more about the impact of plastics in our oceans. We welcomed 284 school pupils over the course of the day and initial feedback has been extremely positive regarding the stand and the activities.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
 
Description British Science Week activity at Plymouth City Museum & Art Gallery- 'Survivors: Adapt of Perish' - 17-21 March 2015 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Schools
Results and Impact The chosen theme this year focussed on how animals and plants adapt to different environments. PML's activity focussed on plastics in the ocean and involved an interactive activity n on how to extract plastics from cosmetics and raising awareness of plastics in the marine environment and the harm they can cause. The event was visited by 700 school pupils representing 17 schools and 250 members of the general public. Pupils reported that they enjoyed meeting 'real scientists' and they found the activities interesting. Many reported that they would stop using cosmetics that contained plastic beads.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2007,2008,2009,2010,2011
URL http://www.facebook.com/PlymSciWeek
 
Description Children's University Christmas Lecture- Plymouth University 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Schools
Results and Impact Talks attended by 80 children and parents, lots of interesting questions asked by children in the audience, event received good feedback.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
URL https://www.facebook.com/PlymSciWeek
 
Description Contribution to Key Stage II Oceans topic at All-Saints Primary School, Thurlestone 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Schools
Results and Impact Pennie Lindeque and Madie Steer provided support and teaching for an 'Oceans' topic at All-Saints Primary School, Thurlestone. This included talks, hands on science and contact with Steer during a 7 week research cruise from the UK to the Falklands through email and blogs. The students were overwhelmingly engaged with the field work, especially seeing live footage from the ship and being able to constantly engage with the scientist on-board. The research and discussions on plastic in the oceans created an increased interest in marine biology and the problem of plastics, and has changed behaviours towards the use of single-use plastic.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
 
Description Documentary "Plastic Britain" 
Form Of Engagement Activity A broadcast e.g. TV/radio/film/podcast (other than news/press)
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Media (as a channel to the public)
Results and Impact Interviewed for the documentary "Plastic Britain" focussing on marine plastic debris and microplastic. Not yet released.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description Documentary - Eating our way to extinction 
Form Of Engagement Activity A broadcast e.g. TV/radio/film/podcast (other than news/press)
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Media (as a channel to the public)
Results and Impact Filmed and interviewed for a cinematic documentary called "Eating our way to extinction" which will present some of our most critical global issues, inspiring people to stop the destruction of our planet's life support systems by making informed decisions.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description Expert working group - ICES WGZE Terms of Reference 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Multi annual terms of reference to compile information on microplastics pollution and its effects on zooplankton communities in the ICES area.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015,2016,2017
URL http://www.ices.dk/community/groups/Pages/WGZE.aspx
 
Description Filming with El Jazeera 
Form Of Engagement Activity A broadcast e.g. TV/radio/film/podcast (other than news/press)
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Media (as a channel to the public)
Results and Impact Filmed with El Jazeera for an episode on plastic pollution for their award-winning environmental show exploring the significant threats to our planet by highlighting eco-friendly solutions from around the world.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description Guest lecture on Microplastics 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Undergraduate students
Results and Impact Guest lecture to Plymouth University Masters Students on Microplastics
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
 
Description House of Lords Reception 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact Pennie Lindeque attended the House of Lords reception at Westminster to help promote plastics research at PML.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
 
Description ITN news 
Form Of Engagement Activity A press release, press conference or response to a media enquiry/interview
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Media (as a channel to the public)
Results and Impact Filmed for a feature on microplastic, broadcast on World Ocean Day.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description Interactive workshop for Key Stage II pupils at All-Saints-Primary School, Thurlestone, and Modbury Primary School as part of the schools environmental awareness week. 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Schools
Results and Impact Gave presentations and ran an interactive workshop on changing oceans for Key Stage II pupils at All-Saints-Primary School, Thurlestone, and Modbury Primary School as part of the schools' environmental awareness week. The pupils expressed an increased interest in science. Pupils and teachers changed their attitude towards using single-use plastic and school environmental group started to discourage use of plastic in packed lunches and started presenting awards to those with no plastic in their lunch box.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description International Microplastic Training Workshop, Peru 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact Training workshop and presentation of outcomes to stakeholders including students, scientists, British Ambassador to Peru, Minister of Fisheries and Minister of Production in Lima, Peru.
Increased knowledge of the problems of microplastic in the marine environment, appropriate methodology to assess this problem, and increased awareness how to prevent plastic pollution in the marine environment and reduce single use practice.
led to signing a memorandum of understanding between Plymouth Marine laboratory and Instituto del Mar del Peru.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description Interview about microplastics for NRK Norwegian TV - 2017 
Form Of Engagement Activity A press release, press conference or response to a media enquiry/interview
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Was interviewed for a prime time Norwegian TV programme, 'Viten of vilje' by NRK TV where I talked about microplastics in the marine environment and our research on zooplankton.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
URL https://tv.nrk.no/serie/viten-og-vilje/DMTV23002217/sesong-1/episode-2#t=7m48s
 
Description Interview with Aesthetics media Ltd. 
Form Of Engagement Activity A press release, press conference or response to a media enquiry/interview
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Pennie Lindeque gave a media interview with Aesthetics media Ltd regarding the proposed ban of microbeads.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
 
Description Interview with China's Xinhua News Agency. 
Form Of Engagement Activity A press release, press conference or response to a media enquiry/interview
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Media (as a channel to the public)
Results and Impact Interview with China's Xinhua News Agency who are working on an article about the plastic straw ban.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description Interview with a reporter from mashable on the subject of microplastics in cosmetics. 
Form Of Engagement Activity Engagement focused website, blog or social media channel
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact The blog post, in which my interview on microplastics was reported, was shared 1.3k times.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
URL http://mashable.com/2016/08/24/microbeads-ocean-pollution/#acYjKjke4mqA
 
Description Interviewed and/or research featured on: Food Unwrapped (Channel 4, 2017), Blue Planet II (BBC One, 2017), Springwatch (BBC One, 2018), Countryfile (BBC1, 2018), BBC Radio Devon (2017) 
Form Of Engagement Activity A broadcast e.g. TV/radio/film/podcast (other than news/press)
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Interviewed and/or research featured on: Food Unwrapped (Channel 4, 2017), Blue Planet II (BBC One, 2017), Springwatch (BBC One, 2018), Countryfile (BBC1, 2018), BBC Radio Devon (2017)
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017,2018
 
Description KCC Marine Warriors Team 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Schools
Results and Impact Presented to the Marine Warriors Team at Kingsbridge Community College on the threats faced by our oceans, including climate change, the Arctic and plastic pollution in the marine environment.

The students reported an interest in this area and have set up action groups to promote recycling in school, reduce single-use plastic and fund-raise to lay a mooring buoy to prevent anchoring in fragile estuary areas.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description Lecture for Marine Contemporary Issues module for the Marine Science Masters course at Plymouth University 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Postgraduate students
Results and Impact Pennie Lindeque, James Clark, Sarah Nelms and Alice Wilson McNeal gave a lecture on microplastics in the marine environment at Plymouth University as a contribution to the contemporary marine issues course at Plymouth University.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
 
Description Mayflower documentary 
Form Of Engagement Activity A press release, press conference or response to a media enquiry/interview
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Media (as a channel to the public)
Results and Impact Interviewed for a documentary celebrating the anniversary of the Mayflower leaving Plymouth. Not yet released.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description Media interest in our microplastic research associated with the start of the plastic bag levy. 
Form Of Engagement Activity A press release, press conference or response to a media enquiry/interview
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Media (as a channel to the public)
Results and Impact As the plastic bag levy was launched in October 2015 so there was considerable media interest in the research we undertake on microplastics in the marine environment. Filming took place at PML in our laboratories, on a local beach and on-board PMLs research vessel Quest.
Thursday 1st Oct our microplastic work was high profile featuring on the 6pm and 10pm national news, world news and the front page of BBC online.
Friday 2nd Oct our microplastic work featured on CBBC Newsround.
Monday 5th October our microplastic work was featured on BBC Spotlight news.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
URL http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-34415464
 
Description Micro2016 Conference, Lanzarote, 2016. 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Pennie Lindeque gave a presentation on "The interaction between zooplankton and microplastics", presented at Micro2016, Lanzarote.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
 
Description Micro2016 conference (Lanzarote) 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Postgraduate students
Results and Impact Presented results of our research on microplastics to an international audience.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
URL https://micro2016.sciencesconf.org/
 
Description News articles on PMLs microplastic research 
Form Of Engagement Activity A press release, press conference or response to a media enquiry/interview
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Media (as a channel to the public)
Results and Impact Our microplastic work has featured in many newspaper articles including the Sunday Times (4th Oct), WMN (25th Oct) and Times (Friday 30th Oct).
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
 
Description Parliamentary and Scientific Committee at Westminster 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact Pennie Lindeque gave an invited address to the Parliamentary and Scientific committee at Westminster in July 2016, during their discussion meeting on 'What should we do about plastics?'. PL spoke about the problems of microplastics in our marine environment and attended the discussion meeting, drinks reception and dinner, where lively and informative discussion continued.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
 
Description Populist article on microplastic debris for surfers against sewage 'Pipeline' magazine 
Form Of Engagement Activity A magazine, newsletter or online publication
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Following an invite from Hugo Tagholm, CEO of Surfers Against Sewage charity, a populist article was written on microplastic debris for their quarterly magazine called 'Pipeline'. This has an outreach of >22,000 people who are members of surfers against sewage.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
 
Description Press release - Plankton faeces could move plastic pollution to the ocean depths 
Form Of Engagement Activity A press release, press conference or response to a media enquiry/interview
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Media (as a channel to the public)
Results and Impact A press release was put out for our new co-authored manuscript in Environmental Science and Technology 'Microplastics Alter the Properties and Sinking Rates of Zooplankton'. This has already been picked up by
o Science Daily: https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/02/160229135927.htm
o Hearld: http://www.plymouthherald.co.uk/Oh-pooh-Plastics-dangerous-ocean-thought/story-28830257-detail/story.html
o Grist: http://grist.org/article/plastic-filled-plankton-poop-threatens-the-oceans/
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
URL https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/02/160229135927.htm
 
Description Press release for AMT microplastic work 
Form Of Engagement Activity A press release, press conference or response to a media enquiry/interview
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact A press release was produced for the microplastic work undertaken on the Atlantic Meridian Transect cruise from the UK to the Falklands. The release was taken up by both the Guardian (national) and the Western Morning News (regional) papers.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
URL https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2016/sep/19/atlantic-expedition-aims-to-discover-affect-of-m...
 
Description Provided an animation of particle movement out of Plymouth Sound for the Plymouth Herald. 
Form Of Engagement Activity A press release, press conference or response to a media enquiry/interview
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Media (as a channel to the public)
Results and Impact Provided an animation of particle movement out of Plymouth Sound for the Plymouth Herald. The animation was published on their webpage as part of a newsstory that focussed on the impacts of pollution from the Tamar Bridge.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
URL http://www.plymouthherald.co.uk/cars-on-tamar-bridge-may-be-killing-cornish-mussels/story-29422391-d...
 
Description Rotary club talk 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Talk given on "The problem with plastic". Following the presentation and discussion several of the audience said they would reconsider washing synthetic fleece garments so often and even choose more natural fibre products in future.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
 
Description Royal party and VIP visit 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an open day or visit at my research institution
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Other audiences
Results and Impact Dr Lindeque led the PML plastics team (alongside others) for a Royal party and VIP visit on Friday 14th July.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description School beach trip (Devon) 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Schools
Results and Impact A school beach visit and rock-pooling trip was organised and run for a local primary school. The children undertook rock pooling and helped to collect plankton with a small hand net towed by the local life guard. The event increased the awareness of the children to their local marine environment and how best to help protect it.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
 
Description School visit (women in Science) 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Schools
Results and Impact A talk was given at All-Saints-Primary School, Thurlestone, Devon on women in science to Key Stage 1 and 2 children. The talk was aimed to break down the stereotype of what young children thought a 'traditional scientist' should be. The talk sparked some interesting and thought provoking questions and debate. The majority of children had a changed view of scientists following the visit.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
 
Description School visit - Leigham Primary School 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Schools
Results and Impact Talk given to primary school children about the problem of microplastics. Expert feedback was also given to them on their topic 'Future Seas'.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
 
Description Student workshop on microplastics in the marine environment 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Schools
Results and Impact We ran a workshop on microplastics in the marine environment. The workshop was for KS4 students from 3 schools; Devonport High School for girls (Plymouth), Nicolaus Copernicus High School (Poland) and Loreto Convent (Ireland), funded through the EU Comenius project. The children were very engaged in the subject and activities. They showed a greater interest in microplastics in general and in particular microplastics in cosmetic products, the effect these may have in the marine environment and how the use of such products could be avoided.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
 
Description Supplied images to a visiting Artist, Cecilia Ramon (Plymouth) 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact We were visited by an Artist, Cecilia Ramon, who was interested in using images from our scientific research as inspiration for her work. We provided Cecilia with a set of slides. Cecilia exhibits her work, and through these exhibits we anticipate that our research will reach audiences that may not normally engage with science.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
URL http://ceciliaramon.com/
 
Description University of Exeter Education Conference 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Pennie Lindeque, Alice Wilson McNeal and Tamara Galloway contributed a poster to the University of Exeter's Education Conference by invitation of the deputy vice chancellor. The presentation was to highlight the success of Alice Wilson McNeal's undergraduate placement at Plymouth Marine Laboratory including her P1 Marine Science Foundation National Science Award.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
 
Description Westcountry Wonderwoman Event 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Schools
Results and Impact Motivational talk as a guest speaker at the Westcountry Wonderwoman event for International Woman's day.
Over 100 pupils aged 11-18 attended a 3 hour evening session with the strapline #PressForProgress.
Many pupils provided feedback that they were inspired to work hard, follow their dreams and were motivated to pursue STEM careers.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description Workshop at the ICES/PICES 6th Zooplankton Production SYmposium (Bergen) - Effects of microplastics on zooplankton: assessing the risk 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact The purpose of this workshop was to bring together researchers with a common interest in microplastics and through a series of contributions and discussion to assess the risk posed to zooplankton by microplastics in the marine environment. Further, discussion on the current problems and best practises in monitoring microplastics was initiated to provide recommendations concerning EU MSFD microlitter monitoring. The group felt they would like to remain in touch via email to discuss/feedback ideas, findings etc following this successful workshop. Thus a list with emails was compiled and discussion may continue after the workshop. The session concluded with a recommendation that this workshop be followed up with a submission by the workshop conveners of a session proposal to the next ICES Annual Science Conference.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
 
Description Young women in STEM careers fair (Plymouth) 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Schools
Results and Impact 250 people registered for the event a nearly half and half split between young people and parents/guardians.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
 
Description Youtube video on 'How to discover hidden microplastics' for Sunday Science 
Form Of Engagement Activity A broadcast e.g. TV/radio/film/podcast (other than news/press)
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Schools
Results and Impact We filmed with Plymouth University an experiment 'How to discover hidden microplastics' for Sunday Science. The film is available on YouTube and is aimed at schools and the general public, enabling them to undertake simple experiments with items that you can find around the home. The film has been viewed nearly 300 times and feedback from individuals and schools that performed the experiment has been one of interest and shock, that small microplastics can be found in everyday cosmetic products. Many people have since become more aware of the problem of microplastics and are avoiding buying such items.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
URL https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hh1cGaVZL2s