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How are the plastics being analyzed?

Posted on October 23 2012

Question submitted by Packer Collegiate Institute

The purpose of this expedition is to collect and quantify the plastics and the organisms living on them.  The only analysis being done at sea is by Greg Boyd, who can determine the type of plastic brought aboard using a Raman spectrometer, and whether or not there are microbes on the microplastics using a luminometer. 

Greg holds a centrifuge tube with a plastic sample that will be preserved in a freezer in the science hold (storage area below decks) for analysis after the expedition.

Back in Woods Hole, MA  he will do DNA, RNA, and scanning electron microscopy analysis of his preserved samples.  Others will also analyze their samples in labs back ashore, including Mike Gil who will identify organisms found on large plastic debirs, and Kristen Mitchell who will analyze samples for selenium concentration.