Liverpool digital agency, Connect has launched a ground-breaking new website for the Environmental Research Institute at North Highland College UHI, part of the University of Highlands and Islands, to highlight the impact of marine plastics.

The Birds & Debris website encourages people around the world to report information on seabird entanglement and nest incorporation of debris. Visitors to the site are welcomed by a large interactive map, which details the number of reports submitted and affirms marine pollution as a recognised global issue.

An estimated 8 million metric tonnes of plastic enters our oceans every year, with over 5 trillion pieces currently floating at sea. Marine debris, much of it plastics, has affected 36% of all seabird species through entanglement – either at sea or at the nest.

The website will collect user-generated data and use the information to identify hotspots of marine littering around the world. When a member of the public finds an instance they wish to report, they are encouraged to upload information, including images, of the bird or nest to the website. The site is supported by a database to collate information, with the data extracted regularly for analysis and academic research.

The long-term aim of the project is to develop relationships with SMEs offering solutions in the recycling of commercial fishing gear to reduce the amount of discarded plastic entering the sea and potentially trapping marine life for decades.

Connect’s Managing Director, Janet Symes says:

“Everyone at Connect is incredibly proud to have worked on this revolutionary project.

“The Birds & Debris website highlights the extent of marine pollution, spearheading a collaborative movement to protect our marine wildlife.”

Dr Neil James of the Environmental Research Institute says:

“We are thrilled that the Birds & Debris website is now available for the public to contribute to.

“Collating this data will improve our understanding of the impact of marine debris on seabirds, raise awareness of the problem and highlight the extent of the issue globally.

“We were very impressed by Connect’s passion and enthusiasm for the project, as well as their eagerness to provide innovative ideas that can be seen throughout the website’s design.”

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