Cocos research blog

Blog post 1, 10 March 2017. #PlasticPollution research trip to the Cocos Keeling Islands starts today and runs until the 25th of March. The trip is supported by the Institute for Marine & Antarctic Studies (IMAS), as well numerous partner agencies, including Sea Shepherd Marine Debris, Tangaroa Blue, Plastic Free July, & the Two Hands Project. Data collected (especially the painstakingly collected micro-plastic data from our 3-day expedition to remote, uninhabited North Keeling Island) will contribute to an IMAS-supported PhD research project scheduled to begin in spring 2017 (see the ‘Projects Available‘ page).

Blog post 2, 19 March 2017. After a bumpy start (back-to-back plane malfunctions resulting in an overnight detour in Perth) the #PlasticPollution research team got straight Cocos1to work, battling through the heat and humidity here on the Cocos Keeling Islands. They’re certainly a dedicated bunch! Over the past week we’ve completed 9 transects on four islands, counting and sorting more than 15,000 pieces of plastic. The vast majority of items recorded have been micro-plastics 2-5 mm in size (around the size of the fingernail on your pinky). However, so-called “disposable” items that many of us use and then send to this mysterious place called “away” have been identified as “top offenders”, littering the beaches of the Cocos Islands (and countless other islands around the world). These larger items include plastic toothbrushes, cigarette lighters, cotton bud sticks, and water bottles – literally in the 1000s (#StupidPlastic). Today, the Tangaroa Blue team merged with our research team: together with around a dozen members of the local Cocos community, nearly 50 people converged on West Island for the start of the “Citizen Science” stage of the Cocos campaign (marking day 1 of a 3-year research program – how exciting!). In the 1st clean-up, more than 60 hessian sacks of #PlasticPollution were removed from Scout Park Beach (0.5 tonnes). No doubt the final statistics of debris collected over the next seven days will be truly remarkable – stay tuned!


Blog post 3, 23 March 2017. The Tangaroa Blue team has continued their amazing work CocosCycloneP1130685LOWcrover the past few days, removing more than 150 large sacks of plastic rubbish from Cocos’ beaches (total weight in excess of ONE TONNE!). Both teams have had to contend with strong winds and heavy rain as a cyclone approaches Cocos Island (you can follow it’s progress here). Needless to say, our crucial research trip to North Keeling (an island typically accessed only once or twice a year) has been cancelled, a major disappointment for the team! Meanwhile, Jenna – a Year 12 student from Perth Waldorf School (wearing a blue jacket in the photo) – has been embracing the opportunity to share ideas and learn new skills as part of her year-long dedicated research project.  Jenna selected #PlasticPollution as her research topic – an excellent choice as it’s a major threat to the heath of our global waterways and species, both marine and freshwater.  Jenna will present the findings of her research to an audience of around 200 people in October 2017 – go Jenna!


Blog post 1, 10 March 2017.