SAMS student is making waves in micro plastics

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A student from the Scottish Association for Marine Science (SAMS), at Dunstaffnage, near Oban, is making waves in the world of micro plastics.

Winnie Courtene Jones is one of the first people in the world to study the impact micro plastic is having on the deep sea ecosystem. She even won student of the year for her ground-breaking project.

Winnie moved to the area two years ago from the west coast of Wales to study at SAMS.

‘I have always been interested in plastics,’ she said. ‘And then this PHD came up.

‘The stuff that I am doing in the deep sea – there are really few studies in that area. It’s really interesting.

‘I have gone out twice in the Northern Atlantic Ocean, once this year and once last year, to collect deep sea samples.’

The samples are collected using a metal sled, which they drag along the sea bed.

They then sieve out all the mud, and keep any animals in order to see how they are being affected by micro plastics in the ocean.

‘I have found plastic in the animals,’ Winnie said. ‘I focus my work on starfish.

‘But we don’t know what effect that is having.

‘We don’t know how long plastic takes to break down. We have been producing it since the 40s or 50s and it is a longer time scale than it has been produced.

‘Plastic fragments into smaller and smaller pieces – it’s easier for animals to eat the smaller plastic.’

Winnie suggests that instead of using items such as plastic water bottles and coffee cups – we use reusable and recyclable materials.

A documentary that dives deep beneath the waves to uncover exactly how far our disposable plastic habit has spread will be shown in Oban next Tuesday and it is free to attend.

A Plastic Ocean will be screened at Oban Pheonx Cinema on August 29 at 6pm.

The screening is part of SAMS’s Capturing our Coast (CoCoast) project.

The institute is partnering with the Group for Recycling in Isle and Bute (GRAB) Trust and Oban Phoenix Cinema.

The event is free but advance booking is required and tickets are available from the Oban Cinema or by contactingcocoast@sams.ac.uk