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Data entry table

DATA recording table

We recommend that you manually record the data on to a sheet of A4 paper, one sheet covers 1 week of samples taken every day.  You may download the table at the links below.

PDF version download

Once the data has been downloaded you can then transfer it to an Excel Spreadsheet download spreadsheet

Information to enter

  1. If possible, and weather dependent, 2 samples to be taken a day at 12:00 to 14:00 hrs and midnight 00:00 hrs to 02:00 hrs in your local time zone.  Record the time in UTC, and in the adjacent column of the data sheet enter 1 for day and 2 for night
  2. The samples will be 500ml or half litre of seawater, the GOES filter is calibrated to give you this volume of water when completed filled.
  3. Make sure you only use 1 x paper, or it will take a long time to pass. In order to take the water sample, wash out the plankton filter with seawater three times with a small amount of seawater and them on the fourth immersion, make sure the filter is completely full of water.  Remove the plankton filter from the water and hang for a period of 4 to 8 hours to allow the water to completely drain through the filter. For samples taken at night you may leave it until daylight to check the results, this will avoid night blindness when sailing at night
  4. The paper disc sandwiched between the acrylic plates makes the sample easy to handle and pop under the microscope. Do not remove the paper from the acrylic plates to examine under the microscope. The acrylic plate has 5 x 5mm (5000um) holes, they are the only parts of the filter paper examined. Secure the two plates together using a small piece of insulating tape on each side of the plate. Take care not to cover the holes, you may keep reusing the same tape.
  5. We don’t expect the numbers to be huge (10 – 30 particles), so it shouldn’t take too long to count everything on the paper. The means you add the number of particles found in each of the 5 x holes together, or in as many holes that you count.
  6. If you are in coastal water, with a high concentration of particles in suspension, you may only have time to count the particles in one of the 5mm holes.  If this is the situation, then only count the centre hole and record this on the data sheet.  100ml of water will pass through each hole, so if only one hole is counted then this relates the number of particles and plankton in 100ml. 
  7. On the A4 recording sheet record, the date, time, and your gps position. You then record the number of micro-plastic particles, fibres, plant ( phytoplankton) and animals ( zooplankton) and anything else that you can not identify. You should also record the approximate size of the particles.  Since the 5mm hole fills the field of view of the microscope, you can use the diagram below to estimate the size of the particles.
  8. We are still learning how to use the filter,  but our experience has been that we are finding around 4 x particles of micro-plastic fibre per litre of water, and no identifiable plants or animals.  There is a typical example of a sample in the photo below showing a microfibre of about 1000um in length.  You are not going to see lots of interesting plants and animals, it may be that you just end up counting microplastic fibres and un-identifiable particles.  However this is still really important and does not detract from the extreme importance of the survey.

Second stage recording ( if possible)

1. If possible we would also like you to use the spread sheet, and record all the information in electronic format.  If possible we would also like you to take 5 x photos of each sample, one for each of the holes, and store the image on the spreadsheet.  We appreciate it can be difficult doing this type of work on a moving yacht, so you should only do this if you feel fit and able. 


size of particle

Each of the 5mm holes on the clear filter plate is 5mm, this is the same at 5000 um (microns).  You can therefore use the 5000um holes as a guide to particle size.  The image below is a graphic representation of one of the 5mm holes that will fill the field on view with your microscope.  The image sizes are shown on the drawing.

Diagrammatic representation of a 5mm hole on the acrylic plate showing the relative dimensions of particles

The photo below is of the acrylic plate that is use to sandwich the 50mm diameter filter paper


An actual photo of a 5mm hole, showing the particles collected. The micro-fibre is very obvious and it measures around 800um, but there are no obvious plants or animals. There are quite a number of particles at about 20 um approximately 10 which you may record in the 20 to 200um bracket, and 1 x particle between 200 and 1000um.





Life on earth depends upon healthy Oceans, we have 10 years to stop toxic chemical pollution, or life on earth may become impossible

Dr. Howard Dryden, CSO

Goes Foundation

Roslin Innovation Centre
The University of Edinburgh
Easter Bush Campus
Midlothian EH25 9RG