Repost from: Explore Marine Life With The University of Plymouth
What do our undergraduates go on to do after they complete their degrees? Meet Eve Angelina Sanders who left the SW for the bright lights of London to work for the Thames Estuary Partnership earlier this year!
From September 2015 to June 2018 I studied at University of Plymouth on the BSc Marine Biology and Oceanography degree course. Although I graduated just over five months ago, I am now employed as the ‘Thames Citizen Fish Officer’ working for the Thames Estuary Partnership based at the UCL in London. My job requires me to develop methods for citizen scientists, helping them with things like monitoring fish nursery grounds, safeguarding the natural habitat for plants and invertebrates at different sites around the Thames Estuary and raising awareness of the wildlife in general. I love it!
Studying at the University of Plymouth did so much more than just give me the invaluable skills that I need for my new job. Alongside the engaging lectures, the teaching staff across the whole of the University of Plymouth’s marine biology sector were incredibly supportive and always willing to help where they could. This meant any questions I had (regarding not only the course content but also academia in general) were quickly answered. The practical side of the degree (field trip to a Swedish fjord in Kristineberg and the numerous research vessel trips in Plymouth Sound to study the physical, chemical and ecological aspects of the water) were a lot of fun and gave me the hands-on experience that employers in this field are often eager to see on a CV. Together I feel both of these course aspects (practical experience and the lectures) gave me well-rounded skills and a knowledge base which were crucial to me getting the job I’m in today.
I had an amazing morning at the incredible YMB summit yesterday. Thank you for having me come and chat about estuaries and the Thames Estuary Partnership to you 🙂 It was great to meet so many amazing and passionate YMB.
DID YOU KNOW – Plastic kills ONE MILLION seabirds a year – and 90% of all seabirds have plastic in their stomach!! Bit of a worry really. Scratch that… A HUGE worry. Time to demolish a custard cream and a cup of tea I think, after hearing that…© Eve Sanders (ToobysTravels)
Ok so a shit title from me.. Sorry. Desperate measures.
Ever heard of a Nurdle? Let me (no doubt) enlighten you… Nurdles are small plastic pellets that all plastic products are made from. Now, these bad boys on the beach and in the ocean are a real problem because toxic chemicals attach to them and wildlife are at risk of eating them. This causes thousands of wildlife deaths every year. See a nurdle? Pick it up to prevent a hurdle for wildlife.
For more information: https://www.mcsuk.org/beachwatch/events/gbbc?platform=hootsuite
Although plastic was invented in the early 1900s, it wasn’t until the early 1950s that the world really developed an appetite for this exciting and versatile new material (Cole, et al. 2013). Back then, global demand was just 1.5 million tonnes annually. These days we’re using some 322 million tons a year of the stuff (Cole, et al. 2013) – that’s a lot of plastic. Recently, the media has been buzzing with shocking stories about the negative impact on our oceans of all this plastic and one type of plastic waste in particular; ‘microplastics’ has really caught the public’s attention. But how big a problem is it?
There are several sources of microplastics, perhaps the best known being those purposely made tiny ‘beads’ that are used in commercial products such as toothpaste, exfoliators and laundry detergents. These get washed down sinks and drains and end up in our oceans (Cole, et al. 2013). Another source of microplastic pollution is the huge amount of tiny fibrous microplastics that are shed when we wash our clothes. One average 6 kg wash can release up to 700,000 microplastic fibres alone (Napper and Thompson, 2016)!
The second source of microplastic pollution starts life as larger forms of plastic such as drinks bottles, food containers, toys and utensils. Once discarded these are broken down into smaller and smaller fragments (plastics that are 5mm or smaller in diameter are considered microplastics) (Cole, et al. 2013).
The main problem with microplastics is that they take years to biodegrade (450 years for an average plastic bottle!) making them a serious and long-term problem (Jambeck, et al. 2015). If current production and management of waste trends continue as they are, approximately 12 billion tonnes of plastic waste will be in our landfills or the natural environment by 2050, of which between 5 and 13 million tonnes being tipped into the ocean (Jambeck, et al. 2015), a staggering statistic!
The effects of microplastics on the marine environment are still largely unknown, but what is known is that microplastic pollution is found across the globe; even in the remotest places like the polar regions and the deep ocean (microplastics have been recorded at depths of more than 500 meters) (Jambeck, et al. 2015).
Figure. 1. A typical use of microplastic beads. Once spat-out and washed down the sink, they can end up in our oceans within a matter of days …
It has recently been discovered that microplastics are ingested by zooplankton, which form the base of the food chain and therefore are carried on up through to the larger predators such as dolphins and even blue whales (Cole, et al. 2013). Researchers have even shown that microplastics can be ingested by humans through the seafood and shellfish we eat (Cauwenberghe and Janssen, 2014). The same study showed the average European consumer to be ingesting 11,000 microplastics annually (the potential effects on humans are not yet fully understood) (Cauwenberghe and Janssen, 2014).
With all this in mind, it’s crucial that we urgently find solutions to the plastic misuse issue. Industry must do its part of course, but It’s down to all of us to clear up our act; to get better at recycling, not buy plastic bottles etc and to change our thoughtless consumption of plastics to ensure cleaner oceans for future generations.
© Eve Sanders (ToobysTravels)
Here I am cracking on with analysing my dissertation data back in August at the Marine Biological Association in Plymouth. Between you and I….. I bloody love a lab 🔬