A group of dedicated ocean lovers gathered on a stormy and soaking Long Beach Friday morning to collect and document the microplastics hiding in the sand.
The event was hosted by the Ucluelet Aquarium as part of its ongoing microplastics survey on the West Coast and aquarium staffer Brittany Buirs was delighted to see citizen scientist volunteers brave the rain to help the effort.
“We are sampling beaches between Ucluelet and Tofino to understand the distribution, the type and the frequency of microplastics on our coast,” Buirs said. “Our goal is to collaborate with citizen scientists and not-for-profits to understand the impacts of marine debris and provide solutions to the problem.”
She said the survey work was made possible thanks to funding from the Sitka Foundation.
She added the Ucluelet Aquarium created a plastics-alternative display to help raise awareness and educate local and visitors about choosing alternatives to reduce the West Coast’s plastic consumption. The aquarium also featured a marine-debris exhibit this season put together by local artists Dan Law and Peter Clarkson.
Citizen scientist volunteer Erika Roy said she moved to Ucluelet about a month ago and was delighted at the opportunity to get involved.
“I wanted to come help keep our oceans clean and I really wanted to get involved with the Ukee Aquarium,” she said.
Roy was joined by fellow Ukee local and citizen scientist Shannon Jensen.
“The ocean means a lot to me and I thought I’d come help out and see what our plastic situation is looking like here so we can educate, create awareness and try to make a difference,” Jensen said.
Anyone interested in becoming a citizen scientist volunteer is encouraged to reach out to Buirs at firstname.lastname@example.org.