The Big Microplastic survey is a citizen science research project that is examining the scale and distribution of microplastics and mesoplastics on coastlines, lake shores and riverbanks around the world. 

Microplastics are one of the biggest issues facing the environment and there are significant gaps in our understanding of the problem. This project seeks to fill some of those gaps in our knowledge.

The Big Microplastic Survey initially developed a simple sampling process that was aimed at allowing volunteers to collect microplastic data accurately for a minimal outlay in terms of time and financial costs.

The project also provides a digital platform where volunteers can upload the information they have collected onto an open source database. This database is also being used by students from other institutions and NGOs.

Volunteers from more than 50 countries have registered for this project since it began – including government bodies, NGOs, schools, volunteer groups and more than 25 universities.

And as well as looking into the problem of microplastics, the research will also involve comparison studies of sampling methodologies and surveys to help us better understand the motivations of volunteers.

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Project members

  • David Jones, University of Portsmouth (PI)
  • Professor Mohammed Hatha, School of Marine Sciences, Cochin University (Co-PI)

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