Imaggeo On Mondays: “The most valuable thing we extract from the ocean is our existence” Dr Sylvia Earle

Imaggeo On Mondays: “The most valuable thing we extract from the ocean is our existence” Dr Sylvia Earle

Marine plastic is just one of the many challenges facing the future of our oceans. For many years researchers have been attempting to understand this problem, but it can be surprising to learn how many things are still unknown, even in oceans we may think of as being familiar. The Mediterranean Sea is one such place, where this photograph was taken by David Jones just off the coast of Malta.


One of the big problems for any researcher attempting to understand plastic in the marine environment is the difficulty in sampling the sources of plastic in our oceans, as one of the first steps to controlling this problem is to understand where it comes from. Trying to collect these data through observation is very difficult, and expensive, work, which is leading researchers interested in this question to experiment with computer modelling, as one researcher, Javier Soto-Navarro, showed in his recent #shareEGU20 presentation (available to view online).


By modelling plastic litter in the Mediterranean in 3D, Javier was able to hypothesize that the sources of that plastic changed depending on spatial location; in the western Mediterranean, most plastics appear to come from the cities, but in the eastern Mediterranean, rivers and shipping play a much more important role.


This World Oceans Day we want to acknowledge the diverse and interdisciplinary range of research that is happening all around the world to combat and raise awareness of marine plastic, and other marine issues, to ensure our oceans are once again healthy and protected for generations into the future.


Description by Hazel Gibson, photograph by David Jones

Imaggeo is the EGU’s online open access geosciences image repository. All geoscientists (and others) can submit their photographs and videos to this repository and, since it is open access, these images can be used for free by scientists for their presentations or publications, by educators and the general public, and some images can even be used freely for commercial purposes. Photographers also retain full rights of use, as Imaggeo images are licensed and distributed by the EGU under a Creative Commons licence. Submit your photos at

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Hazel Gibson is Head of Communications at the European Geosciences Union. She is responsible for the management of the Union's social media presence and the EGU blogs, where she writes regularly for the EGU's official blog, GeoLog. She has a PhD in Geoscience Communication and Cognition from the University of Plymouth in the UK. Hazel tweets @iamhazelgibson.

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