Citizen science project mapping microplastics menace in hope of halting spread

Head down to Sydney’s Manly Cove on a weekend, and you might see groups of people crouching diligently on the sand. They’re not searching for shells or bloodworms, but something just as visually striking, not least because it shouldn’t be there: coloured pieces of hard plastic, fragments of polystyrene foam and fibres from fishing line.

For the last three years, a group of volunteers has been surveying the beach each month for microplastics, as part of the Australian Microplastics Assessment Project.

Colloquially known as Ausmap, the citizen science project has collected more than 3.5m pieces of microplastic from more than 300 beaches around the country, ranging from Thursday Island in the north to Bruny Island, off Tasmania’s south-east coast.

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