A mobile app to help monitor plastics in a marine environment

It will allow users to record information and upload photographs
Now, smart phone users who want to contribute to the environment may help by recording plastics seen in the ocean. The National Institute of Ocean Technology (NIOT) and National Centre for Coastal Research have recently launched ‘Marplasts’, a mobile application that can track the plastics in the marine environment.

This is part of the ongoing marine plastics study. M.A. Atmanand, director, NIOT said this would help in documentation of data and track analysis. “About 30- 40% of the marine plastics in the ocean are used fishing nets. We find that fishermen dump damaged nets in the Indian ocean region. The application would help other researchers to use such data for analysis,” he said.

The application would allow users to record information on type of plastics, be it thermocol or fishing gear, latitude and longitude of the area where the marine debris was found, the category of marine debris and approximate weight. Photographs could also be uploaded along with the data.

R. Venkatesan, scientist, NIOT said preliminary study is on to record presence of marine plastics in different locations of the ocean, off Chennai.

Samples were being lifted from locations, including, off Muttukadu. Various methodologies are being used to lift samples from varying depths such as mid-water column and at a depth of 10 metres.

The study would also analyse the means of plastics reaching the ocean, including surface current. Sometimes, ships passing by could dump the plastics in the ocean, he said.

The mobile application would not only help the study but also facilitate other researchers to analyse the data. The study has just started and it would take a few years for complete analysis of marine plastics, scientists said.

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