Washed up 'sea monster' to challenge young people | Marine@Ugent

Washed up 'sea monster' to challenge young people

A mysterious five-metre long 'sea monster' washed ashore on the beach of Ostend in the night of 15 January 2014, and appeared to be an action from the Flanders Marine Institute (VLIZ). This deep sea monster, called 'Plastic Mer-trans' is composed of 100 kg marine debris, which represents only 1/200,000 of the amount of litter ending up in the North Sea every year. 200,000 'Plastic Mer-trans' placed one after the other would cover a distance from Ostend to the south of France! You can read more about this action here.


With this action, VLIZ wants to get attention for plastic pollution and challenge young people to find inspiring solutions for this problem. Students (15-18 years old) can participate in the school competition Planet Ocean. The class submitting the most original project wins a scientific expedition on board of the research vessel Simon Stevin. 


Researchers from the Laboratory of Environmental Toxicology perform research on (micro)plastics and support this action to get more public awareness for plastic pollution in the oceans. The problem occurs on a global scale. The breakdown time of plastics amounts to tens or hundreds of years: 1 plastic bottle stays in the ocean for 200-500 years. More than 600 species of whales, seals, sea birds, turtles etc. are affected by plastic debris: larger plastic fragments cause entanglement and obstruction, whereas smaller pieces (microplastics) enter the food web via mussels, worms and crustaceans and end up on our plates.  


Be aware that plastic itself is not the problem, the careless dealing with it is.