SAMS news room

SAMS takes plastics message to the water

Part of the SAMS raft race team on board The Spirit of SAMS, from left: Sam Jones, Andy Crabb and Jennifer Cocking.
Part of the SAMS raft race team on board The Spirit of SAMS, from left: Sam Jones, Andy Crabb and Jennifer Cocking.

A SAMS team has entered this year’s Great Oban Bay Raft Race and, while getting soaked from head to toe, will be hoping their effort can raise awareness of the effects of plastics on the ocean environment.

The race will take place tomorrow (Saturday, August 11), starting and finishing on Oban Bay beach. Entries of makeshift rafts will compete to finish the course first but there are other prizes on offer, including best sinking and best dressed.

The SAMS craft, Spirit of SAMS, has been themed to highlight the global issue of ocean plastics. Whether large pieces of rubbish and household waste, or microplastic beads, plastic litters the ocean. Research by SAMS has even shown that traces of microplastics in the deepest parts of the ocean are similar to those found on the coast.

Plastic bags can clog the stomachs of whales and even the smallest creatures in the sea suffer from ingesting microplastic particles.

Spirit of SAMS crew member and marine physicist Dr Sam Jones said: “We are entering the race to have a bit of fun but we have taken the opportunity to raise awareness of a serious issue, so our raft is made from things that you could see washed up on the shore.

“The BBC’s Blue Planet series, fronted by Sir David Attenborough, did a lot to put this problem into the public consciousness, but the next step is showing how people’s actions match up with the problems they are now aware of.”

Crew member Jennifer Cocking is studying ocean plastics as part of her PhD. She said: “Ocean plastic pollution is a huge problem but little changes by many individuals can start to address this.

“Lots of people recycle their household plastics, but there is not enough emphasis on reducing plastic use. Recycling is just a small part of the solution; we need to buy less plastic in the first place, which will send a message to manufacturers that we need another way of packaging things.”

Oban and Lorn Lions Club sponsors the Great Oban Bay Raft Race, which, always brings out a huge crowd to cheer on the intrepid rafters.

The fun starts at 2pm from Oban Bay, George Street.