Information talk: ‘It is raining plastic ...’

2019-02-07 06:00
=Little white microplastic nurdles (inside red circles) were spilled from the MSC Susanna during October 2017. It can still be found along the East Coast. These tiny plastic pieces were photographed at Kings Beach.                              Photo:HEILIE COMBRINCK

=Little white microplastic nurdles (inside red circles) were spilled from the MSC Susanna during October 2017. It can still be found along the East Coast. These tiny plastic pieces were photographed at Kings Beach. Photo:HEILIE COMBRINCK

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WITHIN 8 weeks since microplastic nurdles, tiny pieces of plastic, were spilled off a ship in Durban harbour during 2017, the scale of the pollution could be traced all along the East Coast up to Gansbaai.

The voyage of these billions of nurdles will be the topic of discussion tonight at the Know Your Bay public event, where Dr Eckart Schumann, an internationally renowned oceanographer and research associate at the Ocean Science campus of Nelson Mandela University, will be one of the guest speakers.

He will talk about “Where did the nurdles go?” which spilled off the MSC Susanna during a storm in October 2017.

“Because the public became aware of the nurdles being washed up on to the shore and reported them to a co-ordinating body, the scale of the pollution could be traced all along the coast, at East London, Port Elizabeth, Mossel Bay, and at Gansbaai,” said Dr Lorien Pichegru from the Institute for Coastal and Marine Research at Nelson Mandela University. She is also the chairperson of Algoa Bay Hope Spot.

“Dr Schumann utilises wind, wave and current data to simulate the movement of these microplastic nurdles, and will demonstrate the manner in which plastic pollution pervades all our oceans and seas.”

Microplastic falling from sky

Guest speakers Dr Dee Allen and PhD candidate Steve Allen, from the University of Strathclyde in Glasgow, will talk about “It is raining plastic. Literally”.

“They will present some of the hair-raising data that they collected from remote areas, of deposition of microplastic falling from the sky,” said Dr Pichegru.

They will also present some of the research they are conducting here in Algoa Bay, part of a pan-Africa river plastic survey aiming at 0 Plastic to the Sea.

Steve Allen is researching atmospheric microplastic in remote and high-altitude areas around the world with a focus on the French Pyrenees mountains.

Dr Dee Allen is a researcher in urban drainage pollution and co-researcher in atmospheric microplastic.

Urban drainage pollution means for instance that plastic being littered in a street in Uitenhage, might eventually via the storm-water drainage system end in up the Swartkops River and finally in the sea.

Beach Clean-ups

The first WESSA Algoa Bay Branch beach clean-up of the year took place on January 26th at Kings Beach. A total of approximately 190 kg of rubbish was collected.

As an advance notice of up-coming clean-ups, the public is urged to diarise Saturday, March 2nd and then again Saturday, March 30th. Both will be from 09:30 to 10:30.

  • The Know Your Bay event will take place today at 17:30 for 18:00 at Bayworld Museum. The public are most welcome to attend.

– HEILIE COMBRINCK

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