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Joint Microplastics and Marine Biosecurity expedition

In June 2021, a team of 15 scientists, entrepreneurs, artists and students will embark on a 14-day expedition between Auckland and Opua, stopping for outreach events in Leigh and Whangarei. Aboard Far Out Ocean Research Collective’s S/Y Manawanui and led by skipper Jochen Zaeschmar (Bay of Islands), this expedition aims to collect environmental samples along regional shipping routes and marine habitats of high ecological and cultural value and test field-deployable molecular tools for marine pest detection and surveillance.

Tentative expedition route

This collaboration between ocean literacy nonprofit Blue Cradle Foundation, the Cawthron Institute, the Institute of Environmental Science and Research (ESR), and Algalita South Pacific under two nationally significant MBIE programmes (AIM² and Marine Biosecurity Toolbox) will kickstart Aotearoa New Zealand’s participation in the UN Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development (2021-2030).

By collecting microplastics and biosecurity data, the interdisciplinary team hopes to learn more about the ocean’s health, using innovative microplastics and water sampling techniques, eDNA metabarcoding and targeted assays for marine non-indigenous species (NIS) detection, enabling effective identification of emerging biosecurity risks and timely response.

Our ambition is to inspire the public and build the foundation of a long-term inclusive platform, engaging and learning about the importance of working collaboratively to preserve a healthy ocean. A documentary will be produced, with several future outreach and educational opportunities for students, young people and the greater public. Stay tuned for details!

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