International Litter Sample Findings: Way Too Much

TOO MUCH — This was the conclusion that the 60 participants of the Marine Science Youth Camp in Valparaiso, Chile, reached after analyzing the results of the first-ever international litter sampling Oct. 2-5. The national Marine Science Youth Camp brought together students from across the country as international leaders convened for the International Conference “Our Ocean.” 

During two days packed with activities, the children also visited a local beach with their teachers to examine the state of marine litter. In this standardized scientific sampling, local students were joined by fellow students from Taiwan, South Korea, South Africa, Australia, and Germany to classify and count all litter in a 3m-by-3m quadrant (6 to 60 quadrants per beach). View the slideshow:

This is the first time that this sampling method, which was developed and is frequently employed by “Cientificos de la Basura” (Litter Scientists) from Chile, has also been used in other countries. 

From the global sampling, litter densities ranged from approximately one item per square meter to more than 12 items per square meter, most of which were single-use plastics. 

The participants of the science camp concluded that the quantity of litter is too much for a healthy ocean, and are committed to act in their homes and schools. In addition, the students encouraged others to join them in this important challenge. Despite the challenge’s difficulties, the students expressed their wishes to help each other become better guardians of the oceans along with family members, friends, neighbors, politicians, and businesses to reduce the use of single-use plastic items. 

The organizing institutions, participating teachers, and especially the students were excited about this unique opportunity to learn about marine science together, and collaborate with fellow students from other countries. We are planning to repeat this experience in the future, and in particular hope that plastic pollution in the oceans will soon improve, because the students would prefer to explore marine life rather than count litter. The students and this sampling reminded us once more that keeping the oceans clean is everybody’s task.

For more information: www.cientificosdelabasura.cl and www.chileesmar.cl/camp/

For contact: thiel@ucn.cl, Universidad Católica del Norte, Coquimbo, Chile