Message in a bottle project highlights problem of ocean plastic to COP26 delegates - University of Plymouth

(image: University of Plymouth)
(image: University of Plymouth)

On the penultimate day of the COP26 conference in Glasgow, scientists from the University of Plymouth are part of a project deploying plastic pollution tracking devices into the ocean around Scotland.

The devices will help scientists understand how plastic bottles move in the ocean and their interaction with climate change impacts, wildlife and weather patterns.

The Message in a Bottle tracking project is being run by Arribada Initiative; The University of Exeter; The University of Plymouth and the Zoological Society of London, with support from #OneLess and OneOcean.

Designed to mimic a single-use plastic drinks bottle, the devices will respond to currents and winds as real bottles do.

Stage one of the project launched on World Ocean Day, coinciding with the G7 summit in Cornwall, and has already seen seven devices travel hundreds of miles over the past five months.

In stage two, the four new tracking devices could pass over deep ocean trenches, across major migratory routes for marine mammals and birds, possibly beaching on distant shores.

The devices have been named “Heat”, “Acidity”, “Deoxygenation” and "Pollution" to draw attention to the need to adequately address these ocean crises in tandem and to ensure that a recurring ocean climate dialogue is fundamental to future COPs.

Dr Phil Hosegood, Associate Professor in Physical Oceanography at the University of Plymouth, said: “The bottles released during the G7 have already shown how plastics released offshore readily find their way back to our coastlines. Released off the coasts of Cornwall, they washed up on beaches not just nearby but also in the Channel Islands and France. It demonstrates a strong connectivity between currents in the open ocean and those flowing along our shores and beaches. However, it also shows this isn't an issue one nation can tackle alone, but that actions taken locally to prevent waste flowing from land to ocean could have a positive impact on our planet as a whole.”

Posted on: 11 November 2021

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