Introduction & Background
With an increasing awareness of the growing level of plastic in the environment, human activity has a significant impact on the health of both marine and terrestrial ecosystems. The macroplastic project primarily focuses on measuring the influx of waste items into the Aegean Sea onto specified beaches of Lipsi. All debris will be analysed and catalogued into data sets to establish a pattern of macroplastics and other debris found in accordance with the health of marine ecosystems. The project aims to analyse correlations and differences between beaches and to examine the types of litter to determine if the source is anthropogenic or marine. The project also aims to increase public awareness about the detrimental effects of littering on beaches and aims to increase awareness on a wider scale.
Each day a specific beach will be surveyed by a minimum of 2 people using walking pattern 1. Litter will be collected in mornings at approximately 10am to minimize interference of tourist activities, lasting for a maximum of 1 hour. Number of tourists, volunteers and beach material will be recorded for each beach. Additionally, 15-minute nurdle survey’s will occur at 4 points from low to high shore. Debris will be collected in reusable cotton bags and categorized back at base. This will consist of counting the types of litter, photographing litter and noting any recognisable brands which have been collected. From here we can analyse the data collected and compare beaches with historical data.
Table 1: Weekly timetable
This project is fairly new but so far, we have already established trends in which litter is most common. The high levels of rope on less touristy beaches suggest prominence of ghost fishing and abandoned lines. Another trend we have found is that more touristic beaches (Katsadia, Lientou and Kambos) have higher levels of cigarette butts, soft plastics (snack wrappers) and other anthropogenic litter such as tissues and metal cans. The more secluded and less touristic beaches (Kimisi and Mersini) have more fishing and marine litter which often gets washed ashore with tides and adverse weather.
Figure 1: 18th-22nd June weekly results.
Figure 2: Mean plastic items collected.
Relating to the ongoing nurdle project, we have found thus far that the sediment type plays the biggest factor in nurdle density. Beaches with a fine sandy stratum have the most nurdles and beaches such as Kimisi, Mersini and Toukomnina with medium/small pebbles makes it difficult to find nurdles.
Figure 3: Nurdles collected 11th – 22nd June.
The main aim of this project is to quantify litter coming into the island and determine how much of it is marine and how much is anthropogenic. This will allow us to raise awareness of the problem of marine plastic pollution and educate the public in reducing plastic consumption.
Figure 4: Once litter is collected we bring it back to the office and categorize it.
Figures 5 & 6: some of the items we have collected within 1 hour of beach cleaning.
BSc Hons Environmental Resource Management
BSc Hons Marine & Freshwater Biology
Edinburgh Napier University