The MED Expedition Crew Prepares for the Annual Search for Microplastics in the Mediterranean

Welcome aboard the 2022 Campaign. Over the course of six weeks, a team of scientists and citizens will cross the Western Mediterranean aboard the Bonita. Objective: To analyze microplastics present in water.

“I have long wanted to be associated with a project to protect marine life, and then I stumbled upon this site. In two months I made a decision, I never set foot on a boat.”

Maria Sinisi, 62, whose eyes are still on fire, often reminisces about her time on the 2021 Expedition MED association ship when she was away for two weeks.

And this year she decided to get together again! Maria comes from civil society, she is not a scientist, but she still speaks in jargon worthy of Professor Tournesol.

I must say that these expeditions are not recreation. As an eco-volunteer, she, like the six or so others who accompanied her, has a clearly defined mission on board.

“We are very controlled by the crew Maria explains very seriously. Our role is to support the scientists on board by taking plastic samples.”.

This is done with the help of networks that bear the name mantamicroplastic mesh with “wings”.

“And you need to go quickly, no more than twenty minutes, with a stopwatch in your hand between lowering the net into the water and taking a sample. not forgettingr, buys out our budding scientist, carefully note the longitude and latitude of the sampling site.”

If so, everything may seem very anecdotal, it is not. Leading the MED expeditions is Bruno DuMonte, who when we contacted him said he was ready for a 2022 release.

“The project was born in 2009” the interested party explains. “I’m not a sailor at the base” he immediately clarifies.

Neither Captain Haddock, nor any scientist at all, more precisely, an agronomist. A story worthy of a Hollywood movie: “Once on a pontoon I was there with my fishing rod. Looking towards the water, a very unpleasant sight, plastic floats in the water”.

In fact, microplastics, widely advertised then in the name of the seventh continent. Bruno DuMonte told himself that he must participate in the naval operations.

During these years, the first records of observations of marine mammals appear. And about these famous microplastics, which are then of little interest to anyone. He then decides to start by documenting himself.

“I contacted the American scientist Charles Moore, the discoverer of the plastic cycle in the North Pacific.”

The oceanographer then makes a reference to that question. Bruno Dumonte then started the MED expeditions. The originality of the project will be to connect the real crew of the boat, from the captain to the cook, both with scientists and with the general public.

The current passes with the researcher who offers him his first manta net, a net studied and recognized worldwide for sampling microplastics. The adventure starts like this.

The first expedition is solved, the boat is bought 50/50 with the captain. “But we had to surround ourselves here on the Côte d’Azur with researchers, reputable scientists.” remembers Bruno Dumonte.

At first, the samples taken on the boat were stored until we returned, but now scientists accompany us on our missions.

Analyzes are done in real time. Noticeable increase in efficiency. For every expedition there are volunteers on board who are simply asked to show a clear interest in the cause.

The hunt for microplastics, which did not excite the crowds until a few years ago, has become the subject of several thousand publications around the world. From which the initiator of the MED expedition is delighted.

We are discovering the danger of these microplastics to marine mammals as well as humans.

“At the end of each campaign, we publish a report on our research.”

I advocate interactive science.

“The problem with the Mediterraneane” explains Bruno Dumonte”it is almost an enclosed sea. Waste comes from everywhere, including the south coast, and therefore we would like to involve other countries, such as Morocco or Algeria, in tracking and analyzing microplastics.”.

This country alone has 8,000 kilometers of coastline. In July and August expeditions will follow each other in France and also in Italy or Corsica along the coast. Thirty eco-volunteers, such as Maria, will take part in the trip. There are still places for those who wish.

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