Plastic pollution has become one of the major environmental issues affecting the oceans. Millions of tonnes of plastic pollution enter the oceans every year and much of that ends up on coastlines. Microplastics and mesoplastics contamination is of particular concern, however, despite increased research, much remains unknown about their scale, distribution and impacts around the world. This study sought to determine whether a citizen science approach to coastal microplastic and mesoplastic data collection could address some of these shortcomings. We designed, developed, and tested a novel protocol that would allow volunteers to collect and record reliable data. Using the final protocol, a total of 910 samples have been collected by volunteers from 32 countries over the period of the research. This study showed that by incorporating user-centred design with established scientific methods and adapting the protocol design through user feedback, volunteers can collect data, make meaningful contributions to the gaps in scientific knowledge, benefit personally and increase their understanding of the impacts of microplastics in the environment.
- Citizen science
- Coastal pollution