Grounded in undergraduate student research carried out aboard SEA’s sailing research vessels since the early 1980s, SEA’s Plastics Lab is dedicated to investigating and ultimately preventing ocean plastic pollution through collaborative scientific research and broad knowledge sharing.
Marine pollution has been a focus of SEA student research since the early 1980s. Tar balls and plastic particles have been collected and counted in routine, twice-daily plankton net tows at the ocean surface, resulting in long-term records of contamination in the North Atlantic Ocean, Caribbean Sea, and North and South Pacific Oceans. During this time, the occurrence of floating tar balls has substantially declined in the Atlantic Ocean and Caribbean Sea, in contrast to floating plastic debris, which continues to persist. Ocean plastics are the focus of multiple avenues of research by SEA faculty and SEA students to better understand their sources, distribution, transport, and fate.
SEA’s Plastics Lab is committed to communicating the state of scientific knowledge on global plastic pollution to broad audiences, including decision makers, innovators, educators, and inspired community members of all ages who propel the multitude of actions required to address this environmental issue.