Ocean Research Team To Return To Bermuda

March 25, 2015

A team of young researchers who visited Bermuda last year to catalogue the amount of plastic near the Island’s shores are to return to look for something that is barely visible to the eye.

The four-strong Plastic Tides Team aims to raise awareness of the amount of plastic polluting the oceans and combine their love of adventure with research.

They visited last June and are due to return for three weeks over April and May with their flights being sponsored by Bermuda-based company, MultiStrat Re, a Bermuda specialty reinsurer focused on launching and growing asset manager sponsored reinsurance companies.

Bob Forness, MultiStrat’s Chairman and CEO, said: “I was introduced to this group through Cornell University and hosted a dinner for them last year.

Plastic Tides Episode #1

“I was very impressed with what they were trying to achieve. I told them to get in touch if they were ever coming back. I’m delighted that MultiStrat Re will be able to continue that support this year.”

He added: “Plastic Tides carries out some tremendous work, not just in terms of research, but also in terms of engaging local students, helping them to understand and care about Bermuda’s environment.

“The Coral Beach & Tennis Club is graciously providing the researchers with accommodations and Elbow Beach Cycles will provide scooters during the team’s time in Bermuda.”

Last year the team wanted to highlight the “rampant plastic pollution” in the ocean and how it could affect Bermuda and the Sargasso Sea, a unique breeding ground for countless species.

This year, they will be sampling for microbeads – polyethylene microspheres widely used in cosmetics, skin care and personal care industries and which are less than one millimetre in size – in Bermuda’s inshore waters.

Plastic Tides Episode #2

Christian Shaw, Plastic Tides’ team leader, said: “In June 2014 we circumnavigated Bermuda on stand up paddleboards [SUP’s] to battle plastic pollution. Now we’re coming back to take up the fight against plastic microbeads. By combining research, media, and outreach we will confront this issue head on.”

As well as sampling for microbeads, Mr Shaw said the key objectives of the visit this year are to: carry out more school visits; hold an awareness paddling rally; give presentations; have showings of their documentaries; and push for a ban on the use of microbeads.

The team has produced three parts of its four part documentary series and Episode 4 will be release in the coming month.

He added: “We plan to do screenings at BUEI and other establishments. We are also collaborating with Larry Fox from Surf SUP Bermuda to do some paddling events out at Daniels Head.

“In addition, we want to carry out a community education campaign and start a legislative push to ban plastic microbeads from cosmetics in Bermuda’s stores.

Plastic Tides Episode #3

“We plan to do sampling in Hamilton Harbor and Harrington sound. We will work with members of BEST: the Bermuda Environmental and Sustainability Taskforce who have already identified most products coming onto the island that contain the beads and are beginning to dig deeper into the issue.

“Then we plan to repeat our circumnavigation of the Island with a larger group in less time.

“We are working with local paddling race organizers, 32Sixtyfour, on a two day, one night rally that will give other paddlers a chance to circle the island while spreading the Plastic Tides message.”

The group plans to be in Bermuda from April 27 to May 20.

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Comments (8)

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  1. CJ says:

    Waiting for Mockingay to make a PRC comment.

  2. Greenrock says:

    A wonderful donation by Bob Forness, MultiStrat’s Chairman and CEO. Plastics – on land and in our ocean is an important issue that requires conversation in Bermuda and one that we encourage our community to hold through public initiatives like this. Welcome back Plastic Tides.

  3. Microbeads says:

    I understand the team plans to do sampling in Hamilton Harbour and Harrington Sound for microbeads. Our grey wastewater (ie from our sinks, showers and tubs) goes into cesspits and to the sewage treatment plants. On the assumption that microbeads cannot pass through limestone, would it not be better to sample where the sewage plants pump into the ocean (eg off Hungry Bay) to see if there is a concentration of microbeads there (and by all means compare to other bodies of water)?

  4. Thanks for bringing this up Microbead. We certainly agree. We knew thier was one sewage outflow off south shore, but we were unsure if all of the grey water was concentrated there. If you have more detailed information, perhaps about what happens during overflow storm conditions etc. With all the flooding Bermuda had seen recently one could believe microbeads might end up anywhere. If you want to follow up please send us an email at info@plastictides.org.

    Cheers!

    • Microbeads says:

      There’s another wastewater outflow off the east end and certain hotels may have their own too. Have replied publicly in case someone with more knowledge sees this. Someone in the Department of Health may be able to tell you more about the location of outflows because they do sampling at a number of seawater sites. I think most plumbers will tell you that the majority of cesspits work very effectively and they are usually dry, so to my knowledge they don’t overflow during storm conditions. Some streets and other areas do get flooded, but that would just be accumulated runoff, not greywater containing microbeads washed off people.