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OCC announces cooperation with GOES Collaborative Data Collection Project

by Dr Howard Dryden 11 Mar 2021 15:35 UTC

GOES is a citizen science project that enables mariners to collect water samples and analyse them for microplastics and plankton. It is coordinated by OCC member Dr Howard Dryden.

Citizen science can provide invaluable information to answer questions that are either too difficult or too expensive for oceanographic ships to collect. An example would be the Fisher Collaborative Data Collection Project (CDCP). At GOES Foundation we propose a similar CDCP with ocean cruising yachts in order to collect microplastic and plankton numbers data across oceans.

There are around 5,000 yachts crossing oceans every year, from Arctic regions to the equator. If some of these yachts were to start collecting data, then it would be invaluable for the measurement of oceanic pollution and productivity. The data will be fed into a database, and when there are sufficient results AI (Artificial Intelligence) will be used to analyse the data, which will all be displayed on However, we don't just want to collect data; the information will be used to inform and educate, and to help identify and initiate innovation of technology that can start to have a real impact on fighting climate change and protect our oceans.

Citizen science is often not considered seriously, that is why we have taken the time to test the procedures and to make sure that it is possible to collect and analyse the samples to produce relevant data onboard a typical ocean-going yacht. We know how difficult it is to do a plankton trawl from the back of a yacht, especially at night. We have therefore made it a quick easy task to obtain precise measurements with just the minimum of tools. Thanks to Dr Jesus Ramon Barriuso Diez from San Sebastian, for designing and manufacturing the filter for GOES.


Collect data on micro-plastic, zooplankton and phytoplankton concentration in oceanic water where the depth exceeds 1000m. Secchi disc reading may also be taken at the same time as well as other observations, from observations of surface plastic to whale sightings.

Sample collection:

  1. A 250ml water sample is collected at 12:00hrs and 24:00hrs from the ocean surface, once every few days. Time day/night and GPS position are recorded
  2. The sample is added to a gravity filter, the water reservoir contains 250ml, so it is just filled up till it overflows. The water then slowly passes through the filter with a filter paper ratted at 1 um. The filter is then just left for around 10 to 30 minutes for the water to pass through the unit.
  3. Remove the filter paper with tweezers, and place it under a USB microscope at about 20 times magnification, count the number of plastic fibres and particles that can be easily identified. Count all zooplankton and count all the visible algae phytoplankton.
  4. The information is recorded and sent to GOES by email, or it is uploaded directly to the database.
  5. The information will be displayed on the website, and with the skipper's permission, the position of the yachts will be tracked by AIS and displayed on
The microscope and filter paper can be purchased on-line from Amazon. The filter we make and send out, however, I will also include the fabrication instructions to allow construction. It is very simple to make with materials from most plumbing stores.

If the skipper wants us to send the equipment, then we can dispatch by UPS, DHL or a suitable carrier. Our GOES team in Edinburgh can deal with the dispatch of the equipment. There will be a cost to the equipment which will be around £50, but any funds will go into GOES to help with our mission to save the oceans.

A full report on water pollution, green chemistry and practical strategies has been published for dissemination and to raise awareness as much as possible that there is more to do with climate change than just carbon dioxide, and we can fix this problem by restoring marine biodiversity and productivity. You are free to distribute the report.

For more information, visit the GOES (Global Oceanic Environmental Survey) Foundation website and CDCP information page via the links below.

Quick Links:

This article has been provided by the courtesy of Ocean Cruising Club.

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