A guest blog from: The Plastic Tide
The plastic tide is swamping our ocean; the 8 million tonnes of plastics pouring into our oceans a year today are set to reach 80 million by 2025.
Yet, once plastic enter of our ocean the fate of 99% of it is unknown, although scientists believe coastlines are a major sink. understanding how much and what type of plastics accumulate where is vital to understanding the impacts. Indeed, due to the difficulties of generating scientific data on the level of contamination, it is believed we’re underestimating coastal litter by as much as 10 times
The Plastic Tide harnesses the power of cutting edge machine learning algorithms and drone technology in an innovative and revolutionary way; surveying beaches to autonomously detect, measure and monitor the accumulation of plastic pollution.
But we need YOU! Our machine learning algorithm, or computer program, learns from our citizen science volunteers! By tagging the plastic litter in our drone survey images, volunteers teach the computer program to detect and identify plastic litter on its own. Another part of the program then goes on to calculate an estimate of the volume and therefore the weight of plastic litter on the beach!
This technology could revolutionise our understanding of the plastic menace in our oceans and coastlines, by revealing how much of the missing 99% of plastics are in our coastal waters and potentially what type. This would not only allow for more positive evidence led action against the causes the of plastic pollution, it would also allow us to more effectively keep our coastlines clean. Perhaps even eventually allowing us to predict where and how much plastic will wash up on our coastlines.
However much time you have spare is all that is needed, simply log into our webpage and click the "Tag Plastics Now" link, have a look at the tutorials and get tagging! We'd encourage you to post messages on the message boards about what you find, there is a great community of support and also share what you find on social media!
All the data gathered, the computer program and the method for surveying beaches will be made publically available, when complete, allowing anyone, anywhere to monitor beach litter in the same way. The results will be uploaded to an online global portal and map showing where and when the litter is accumulating and making it freely available to download.