Any beach cleanup can be turned into a scientific data collection opportunity, simply by making notes and following a common protocol. With our beach plastics research, we’ve adapted protocols from other organizations to collect data on macro and microplastics that we find on the beach. Data can be compared between beaches and over time to see differences, leading to a better understanding of marine plastic pollution on small islands. Collaboration between volunteers, local schools, universities, and other organizations helped to collect microplastic data from five beaches around Aruba in the fall of 2021 (data below). Through sharing of equipment and protocols, these collaborations can grow to provide ongoing monitoring of this important coastal issue. If you’re interested in collecting some data on beach plastics, feel free to check out the instructions linked below and let us know if you want to borrow our equipment!

Research protocols:
Monitoring Beach Microplastics
Monitoring Beach Macroplastics and Litter

Instructional videos:
Collecting Beach Samples
Analyzing Beach Samples for Microplastics

Overview of microplastics found in samples from 5 beaches in Aruba, November 2021