Citizen science at the schools of Eivissa

Observers of the Sea and GEN-GOB sign a collaborative agreement to study pollution in the marine environment

Marine pollution by plastics is an increasingly alarming issue. The studies predict if we continue at this rate, in thirty years there will be more plastics than fish in the oceans. Within this context, the Group of Nature Studies (GEN-GOB Eivissa) and the association that coordinates the Web platform of citizen science -Observers of the Sea- have signed an agreement to develop the project “plastic 0” in the classrooms.

The project, led from the Center for Advanced  Studies in Blanes (CEAB-CSIC), works to make a diagnosis in the Mediterranean area of the problem of plastics on the beaches. Observers promote the exchange of knowledge around the marine environment between citizens and scientists. «Plastic 0» Takes a step further by involving the students in the research, with the objective that they learn as they work in the scientific world.  At the same time, the students become aware about the pollution of plastics in the sea and on the beaches.

To make it possible, seven beaches in Ibiza were chosen. We chose urban beaches and more virgin beaches where we are taking monthly samples. These beaches are: Cala Boix, Santa Eularia, Talamanca, Playa d’en Bossa, Cala D’Hort, Sant Antoni and Benirràs. After collecting the samples, following the established scientific protocol, these are taken to the schools where the students analyze  and classify them by plastic categories. Once counted and weighed, the data is sent to the web of Observers of the Sea. This data is very valuable. After analysing the data, the students try to answer some questions; such as if there are variations in quantity of micro and meso plastics on different beaches, in the type of plastic found or if plastic changes at different times of the year. This fact is mentioned by Luís Francisco Ruiz-Orejon, one of the scientists who leads the project.

“What’s the matter with the sea?” is the second of the activities carried out by the Environmental Education Service of GEN-GOB Eivissa and is supported by Observers of the Sea. In this activity, students analyse problems such as the presence of the plastics in the sea, the introduction of invasive species of both animals and plants, the mortality of the pinshell, or the situation of the Posidonia oceanica meadows. The activity is illustrated with news. Many questions arise around these symptoms that the sea is experiencing, which bring us to think that it is sick. The students participate a lot, which is highly positive. The students discover the environmental problems with the sea , and they ask themselves what they can do to reverse this situation, says Agnès Vidal, environmental educator who guides the workshops. In the last part, observations are made, through a microscope, of different seaweeds, an unknown world is discovered by the students, which is very well received by them.

This proposal has been one of the novelties that this year we have presented from the service of environmental education of GEN-GOB. It is having tremendous response between the students and the teachers. In fact, we have not been able to accept more bookings for weeks and we have the agenda of the course almost full booked-says Agnès Vidal.

If a school is interested in developing these activities, they have to contact the GEN-GOB Eivissa (through the mail for the activity « What’s the matter with the sea?».