Mapping Plastic from Shore to Seafloor: Narragansett Bay

The COASTL lab is pleased to be working with scientists and students around URI to better understand the marine plastic problem. Most people are aware that there are large accumulations of plastic in our oceans. Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on your perspective), these only hold about 1% of the plastic estimated to be supplied to the seas. The missing 99% requires more research. Of course, all of us have seen plastic and other debris on our beaches. Rhode Island is not immune to the issue. We are fortunate to have organizations like Save the Bay and Clean Ocean Access that have been doing a great job coordinating beach cleanups, but these efforts are limited in where and what they collect. More research is needed to measure the plastic on our shores and across the seafloor, and evaluate its impact on ecosystems. Our new student-engaged project supported by the URI Interfraternity Council and Panhellenic Association is a partnership with Jason Jaacks in the URI Harrington School of Communications, and Drs. Coleen Suckling, URI Fisheries, Animal and Veterinary Sciences and Andy Davies, URI Marine Biology. Additionally, the group is engaging with other scientists at GSO, URI and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency on the Bay Campus. We’ll be sure to share results of our coastal samplings and image-based mapping.