School Email Exchange

Do you manually count all of the plastic pieces?

Posted on October 26 2012

Question submitted by Falmouth Academy

All the pieces of plastic have been manually counted except on the day we found so many in a windrow.  After counting 17,000 pieces one-by-one, we had to estimate the remaning number.  The final count that day was 24,217.  These counts are done over time with people from different watches as well as off-watch volunteers.

Even microscopic plastic collected by filtering seawater is counted by hand.  The organic material in a Petri dish sample is dyed, leaving the plastic to show up more clearly under a microscope so it can be counted. 

Greg Boyd, Whitney Horstman and Marina Garland painstakingly use tweezers to remove and count plastic from buckets storing one day’s tow.