Setting Sail on Research – Investigating Microplastic in the Ocean

For the second time, microbiologist Dr. Rüdiger Stöhr from One Earth – One Ocean e.V., an association supported by the Röchling Foundation, has set sail on a large sailing trip as part of the organization Ocean Sail. This time the route takes him from Cape Verde to the Caribbean. What sounds like a relaxed sailing holiday is actually hard work.

Ocean College offers students the opportunity to study on board of an old sailing training ship for half a year. In addition to the normal school lessons, the School under Sails, offers its participants to also learn how to operate and navigate a ship.

During the trip, each student has to focus on a specific topic. Dr. Stöhr teaches marine biology. Under his guidance, the students regularly take water samples from the Atlantic and examine them for microplastic. The association One Earth – One Ocean (OEOO) therefore provided a complete laboratory for water analysis. Using an infrared spectrometer, the microplastic in the water can be identified, quantified and determined. During the weeks on board, Dr. Stöhr will train the students with the detailed processes.

Such water analyses are serious scientific work. The outcome of the analyses will contribute to the Microplastic Pollution Map developed by OEOO. It is an interactive map and can be viewed on the OEOO website with this link. The association gains valuable data over the entire distance across the Atlantic. The Microplastic Pollution Map serves as an interactive world map of its kind that makes type, extent and distribution of marine pollution by microplastic available and documented.

Further information about the work of OEOO can be found here The association funds its work by donations only. It therefore welcomes any kind of support.