Small and large plastic pieces and nurdles are continuing to wash up on south-west beaches and a group of dedicated volunteers will now be able to help others in their removal.
Beach Patrol 3280-3284s and environmental warrior Colleen Hughson invited AUSMAP program director Michelle Blewitt to Warrnambool to deliver microplastic sampling and identification training on Friday.
AUSMAP is the first national survey of microplastics on Australian beaches and shorelines and involves hundreds of citizens, including communities and high-school students.
The approach involves following a rigorous scientific methodology, in co-operation with Macquarie University. More than 20 workshop attendees gathered plastics and learnt how to identify them. Nurdles, also known as 'mermaid tears' or resin pellets are the pre-production form of plastics, have been a more recent problem locally.
In 2017 a major spill of nurdles was discovered on south-west beaches. Volunteers have cleaned up over 500,000 nurdles locally and continue to clean them up almost daily.
They have been found on Warrnambool and Port Fairy beaches.
Dr Blewitt said microplastics were a threat to coastal and inland waterways and animals.
The particles absorb contaminants from the surrounding water and can be consumed by plankton and fish, and then can accumulate up the food chain and into human food supplies.
"We are seeing more and more plastics washing up," Ms Hughson said. "We have a lot of community members doing clean ups and they are posting videos and photos of the tide mark full of tiny bits of plastic. AUSMAP have trained people up on how to monitor and assess for microplastics." Workshop participants will now take their training back to their respective schools and organisations and train others on how to identify microplastics and collect data.