There are multiple ways to get involved and help raise awareness about microplastics in our waters and help keep them clean. The simplest way is to take a pledge to stop using products that contain microplastic beads. Below are a list of links to get started.
TAKE THE PLEDGE to reduce your contribution to microplastic pollution.
If you've already contacted Maia McGuire, and are ready to start collecting data, below are the links to report data and volunteer time.
Sampling for Microplastics
Below are some resources that might be useful if you want to learn how to sample for and identify microplastics in water or sediment samples. Protocols are based on methods developed by Abby Barrows, PI for Adventure Scientists' Worldwide Microplastics Project.
FMAP Volunteer Manual (updated 2/15/16). This manual contains information for volunteers with the Florida Microplastic Awareness Project, including protocols and forms.
TRAINING VIDEOS--these videos demonstrate the methods being used by the Florida Microplastic Awareness Project.
NOAA's Laboratory Methods for the Analysis of Microplastics in the Marine Environment was published in July 2015. The methods are best suited for a university or formal lab setting (as opposed to K-12 or citizen science efforts). Methods are given for both sediment and water samples.
The Marine and Environmental Research Institute has a great Guide to Microplastic Identification with tips for observing and identifying microplastics from water samples that have been vacuum-filtered through 0.45 micron gridded filter paper. It does not try to identify the source of the plastic, but has suggestions about how to tell if something is plastic or not.
Collecting water samples explains the protocol for collecting water samples for microplastic analysis. Not mentioned in the document, but good practice, is to avoid wearing fleece (polypropylene) clothing when collecting samples :) Courtesy of UF/IFAS Extension Pinellas County, you can watch an 80-second video showing how to collect water samples.
Microplastic Sampling in Coastal Waters is the protocol being used by the Florida Microplastic Awareness Project. It is a simplified methodology for non-lab settings.
Simplified methods for sampling beach sand for microplastics (appropriate for upper elementary school-age through adult volunteers).
Become a Volunteer
The Florida Microplastic Awareness Project (FMAP) has a network of coordinators around the state (see map for contact information.) If you would like to volunteer with an existing coordinator, or would like information about establishing a sampling location in a new area, please contact Maia McGuire.
Existing coordinators include:
UF/IFAS Extension Offices in Escambia, Santa Rosa, Franklin, Pinellas, Collier, Monroe (Key West), Miami-Dade, Brevard, Volusia, Flagler, St. Johns and Nassau Counties.
The Florida Aquarium
UF/IFAS Indian River Research and Education Center
Marine Discovery Center
Northeast Florida Aquatic Preserves
Rookery Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve
Guana Tolomato Matanzas National Estuarine Research Reserve
Northeast FL Aquatic Preserve
St. Johns Riverkeeper (at Jacksonville University)