Microplastics Citizen Science Project

Underwater shot of fish and plastic waste

Plastic and microplastic litter is an emerging and concerning issue for Victorians, particularly those living near coastal and marine environments. It is harmful to marine life such as birds, sharks, turtles and marine mammals and may cause injury or death through drowning, entanglement, internal injuries, or starvation following ingestion.

group of people conducting sand sampling on Frankston beach

This citizen science project, led by Sustainability Victoria in partnership with EPA Victoria and Melbourne Water engaged volunteers and scientists in a whole-of-catchment collaborative research project to better understand the sources and impacts of microplastics in Port Phillip Bay.

Citizen science is research conducted, in whole or in part, by non-professional scientists and is often described as "public participation in scientific research".

This project included the following stages:

  1. Development of a sand sampling methodology
    A range of organisations and scientists collaboratively designed a sand sampling methodology for the citizen scientists to use. This was completed in the field, testing various tools and techniques to develop a simple, efficient and effective sampling method to collect sand samples for analysis.
  2. Conduct sand sampling at sites
    Citizen scientists from around Port Phillip Bay undertook sand sampling for the project at the six reference sites. Sites were selected in collaboration with the Port Phillip EcoCentre to provide a representation of Port Phillip Bay beaches
  3. Data analysis and reporting
    RMIT University analysed the data collected to produce the final report.

Project acknowledgements

Supporting SV, EPA Victoria and Melbourne Water to deliver this project are the Port Phillip EcoCentre, Tangaroa Blue and RMIT University.

SV thanks the following groups for actively participating in collecting sand samples: Werribee River Association, Werribee Riverkeeper, Port Phillip EcoCentre, Port Phillip Baykeeper, Worcester Polytechnic Institute (Massachusetts, USA), Frankston Beach Patrol, and the Rye Foreshore Advisory Group.

Project report

Microplastics and Port Phillip Bay

This citizen science project engaged volunteers and scientists in a whole-of-catchment collaborative research project to better understand the sources and impacts of microplastics in Port Phillip Bay.