Seabin Citizen Science Project Launching in Fathom Five National Marine Park

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Sources of Knowledge board member Owen Glendon with one of the Seabins at the head of Little Tub Harbour.
Submitted by Sources of Knowledge Forum

Are you concerned about the amount of plastics that are being found across the Great Lakes? Do you ever wonder how clean our local Tobermory waters are? Well, starting in mid-May 2022, the Sources of Knowledge, Parks Canada, the Municipality of Northern Bruce Peninsula, and Friends of Bruce District Parks are launching the three-year Tobermory Seabin Citizen Science Project, and we need your help!

Seabins are floating trash bins with a 20kg removable catch bag with the ability to capture approximately 1.4 tons of floating debris per season. The mesh bags capture particles down to 2mm and smaller when micro-plastics adhere to algae. There are more than 860 Seabins worldwide with a combined weight of trash captured at over 1 million kgs!

Parks Canada has helped identify three Seabin locations in Fathom Five National Marine Park to monitor the amount of trash that is present in our waters: the marina in Little Tub Harbour, Big Tub Harbour, and Hay Bay. Data collected will serve as an ecosystem indicator for the marine park, and inform us locally on how clean our waters are.

Your role as a volunteer citizen scientist is to check the Seabins daily using a monitoring protocol developed by the University of Toronto, now applied around the world through the International Trash Trap Network. Monitoring is simple: remove catch bag; shake to remove excess water, take a photo, weigh, record data (by using a purpose-built app or on paper); empty contents into trash; and return catch bag to Seabin. Up to 10-15 times per season, ‘deep-dive’ monitoring will be conducted where we keep the contents of catch bags instead of disposing of them, identify the different types and volumes of trash collected, and record the results. Don’t worry, training is included when you become a citizen scientist! (check out this of U of T video). 

This info graphic from the International Trash Trap Network shows 2021 results from similar programs around the world. Data from our citizen scientists will be included in this reporting scheme for 2022.

The other key role for Seabins is to attract the interest of local citizens and tourists so we can raise awareness of plastics pollution and encourage people to take action. A Seabin interpretive sign will be installed in downtown Tobermory shortly, and we are working on developing an education and outreach program.

To become a Seabin Citizen Scientist, or to learn more please contact us at info@sourcesofknowledge.ca.