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European and cuban sceintists join forces against plastic pollution

08.08.2017 Foundation

The Norwegian ​team and the ​crew on the top ​of the Race for ​Water ​Ambassador ​Vessel in Cuba. ​​© Peter ​Charaf / Race ​for Water

From August 2nd to 7th, scientific teams from the NGI (Norges Geotekniske Institutt) and the CEAC (Centro de Estudios Ambientales de Cienfuegos) have used Race for Water to collect microplastics samples along the Havana coast. This campaign is part of the Weather-MIC project, sponsored by the pan-European JPI Oceans project, and directed by Dr. Hans Peter Heinrich Arp, senior specialist engineer at the Norwegian Geotechnical Institute (NGI). He is accompanied by Linn Merethe Brekke Olsen, engineer at NGI who has been working with him on microplastic research for a year and Øyvind Lilleeng, a Master student who will analyze the samples collected in Cuba as part of his Master’s thesis.

This microplastic sampling campaign is a first one in Cuba! It was carried out in close collaboration with the Prof. Carlos Alonso-Hernández from the CEAC who bring his precious support for this scientific mission. Professor Alonso-Hernández and 7 other Cuban scientists took part in the experiment by participating in the sampling of water samples (using a Niksin bottle and a manta net) and sediment samples (using a dump) aboard the Race for Water vessel. A beautiful exchange and sharing of knowledge on the study of microplastic weathering has taken place. The samples were then split to be analyzed both in Cuba at CEAC and in Norway at NGI, which will result in a joint publication.

The first samples reveal a significant microplastic concentration in Havana Bay and off the Cuban coast but remains at first sight less important than the one measured in the Sargasso Sea.

Find out more details about this scientific mission which is a major contributor to the fight against plastics pollution, with Dr. Hans Arp exclusive interview on the Odyssey blog.



1: Left to right: Professor ​Carlos Alonso-​Hernández (CEAC)​, Linn Merethe ​Brekke Olsen (​NGI) and Dc. ​Hans Peter ​Heinrich Arp (​NGI). ​© ​Peter Charaf / ​Race for Water

2: Linn Merethe ​Brekke Olsen showing a sample containing plastic particles recovered by the Manta net. © ​Peter Charaf / ​Race for Water

3: Angel Lenin Rodriguez Lopez collecting a water sample using a Niskin bottle. ​© ​Peter Charaf / ​Race for Water

4: Manta net launch by Anne Le Chantoux (Race for Water crew member). ​© ​Peter Charaf / ​Race for Water

5: Sample processing by Ariana Garcia Chamero (CEAC) in the dry laboratory on board of the Race for Water Vessel. © ​Peter Charaf / ​Race for Water

6: Øyvind Lilleeng and Hans Peter H. ​Arp collecting ​water samples at different depths in Cuban waters. ​©​ Peter Charaf / ​Race for ​Water