In July 2020 a team of 10 will leave the UK and head to Morocco to start the West African Coastal Ocean Plastic Survey. The expedition will travel through 21 countries and will last for 3 months. The focus of the expedition is to create an opensourse database on the location, amount, type and quantity of plastic on the shores of western Africa.
The database will be published on completion of the expedition and will be available for free. The team hope that this will further the development of research and policies related to the ocean plastic crisis.
There are 3 types of data that the expedition will be collecting. At a high level we will be analysing the amount of plastic in an area using drones and then using deep learning convolutional neural networks to process the visual data collected. We will be manually collecting data for macro plastics, and for micro-plastics we will take samples and transport them back to the UK for detailed analysis.
Logging details about macro plastics will be achieved by utilising the human resources of the team. The team will fan out and walk along the length of the beach in 1 meter corridors logging the type, size, origine (if possible) and quantity of plastics. This will take place in 100m long sections of coast line.
The sampling method used will be the one recommended by Mausra & Foster, 2015. The team will take around 1000 400g samples of the coastline (roughly every 17km). These samples will be taken back to the UK to be analysed in the laboratory, and then logged in the database against the GPS location of the respective macro plastic data.
The expedition team will use 2 vehicles to make this expedition possible. They will carry all of the scientific and mechanical equipment needed to make the survey a success, fixing any problems that may arrise. The team will source food and water locally and will camp in the locations where the research is taking place. This means that the team can be entirely self sufficient and travel to remote locations, without the need to be in the vicinity of a populated area.