Microplastics in the deep sea
Global budgeting of marine microplastics have identified lower than expected concentrations of these small plastics in surface waters; thus it is hypothesised that the deep sea is the final sink for this pollutant.
My current research aims to develop knowledge regarding microplastic pollution in one of the largest, but still most unexplored global ecosystems: the deep sea.
My objectives are
- >develop an effective method to extract microplastics from faunal tissues without damaging microplastic integrity
- >to quantify and characterise microplastics in the different 'reservoirs' at a regularly monitored deep-sea location in the North East Atlantic Ocean
- >using a long-term specimen time-series to detect when microplastics can first be detected in the deep sea
- >to explore temporal and spatial distribution of microplastics using computational models
Dr. Bhavani Narayanaswamy (director of studies), SAMS
Dr. Stefan Gary (supervisor), SAMS
Dr. Brian Quinn (supervisor), University of West Scotland
University of the Highlands and Islands & SAMS scholarship
University of the Highlands and Islands
Publications and reports
Courtene-Jones, W. Quinn, B. Gary, S. F. Mogg, A. O. M. Narayanaswamy, B. E. (2017) Microplastic pollution identified in deep-sea water and ingested by benthic invertebrates in the Rockall Trough, North Atlantic Ocean, Environmental Pollution, 231, pp271-280
Nuuttila, Hanna K. Courtene-Jones, Winnie, Baulch, Sarah, Simon, Malene, Evans, Peter G. H. (2017) Don’t forget the porpoise: acoustic monitoring reveals fine scale temporal variation between bottlenose dolphin and arbor porpoise in Cardigan Bay SAC, Marine Biology, 164 (3) DOI: 10.1007/s00227-017-3081-5
Courtene-Jones, W. Quinn, B. Gary, S.F. Narayanaswamy, B.E. (2017) Microplastics in the final Ocean Frontier, In: Fate and Impact of microplastics in the Marine Ecosystems, DOI: 10.1016/B978-0-12-812271-6.00112-5
Courtene-Jones, W. Quinn, B. Murphy, F. Gary, S. F. Narayanaswamy, B. E.(2017) Optimisation of enzymatic digestion and validation of specimen preservation methods for the analysis of ingested microplastics, Analytical Methods, 9, 1437-1445, DOI: 10.1039/C6AY02343F
Courtene-Jones, W & Briffa, M (2014) Boldness and asymmetric contests: Role- and outcome-dependent effects of fighting in hermit crabs. Behavioural Ecology, 25 (5): 1073-1082.
Courtene-Jones, W., Quinn, B., Gary, S. F., Mogg, A. O. M.., Narayanaswamy, B (2017) Microplastics identified in deep-sea water and ingested by benthic invertebrates in the Rockall Trough, Oral presentation, MASTS Annual Science Meeting
Courtene-Jones, W., Quinn, B., Gary, S. F., Mogg, A. O. M.., Narayanaswamy, B (2017) Microplastics identified in deep-sea water and ingested by benthic invertebrates in the Rockall Trough, Oral presentation, Deep-Sea Biology UK meeting
Courtene-Jones, W., Quinn, B., Gary, S., Narayanaswamy, B (2016) Microplastics In The Northeast Atlantic Deep-Sea: Developing & Validating An Isolation Method, Poster presentation at the 7th Late Summer workshop on Microplastic in the aquatic environment, Germany
Courtene-Jones, W., Quinn, B., Gary, S., Narayanaswamy, B. (2016) Microplastics in the final ocean frontier. Deep Sea Special Interest Group Meeting as part of the Challenger Society Conference, Liverpool. Poster presentation.
Courtene-Jones, W., Quinn, B., Gary, S., Narayanaswamy, B. (2016) Microplastics in the final ocean frontier. Micro2016 International Conference, Lanzarote. Poster presentation.
Courtene-Jones, W. (2015) Microplastics in the deep sea. University of the Highlands and Island postgraduate conference. Oral presentation
Courtene-Jones, W. Nuuttila, H. Brundiers, K. Koblitz, J., (2013) Comparison of broadband hydrophone and C-POD data logger recordings of wild bottlenose dolphin (Tursiops truncatus) echolocation clicks. The European Cetacean Society, 27th annual conference. Poster presentation.
Current: Hyperbaric chamber team member at the NERC Facility for Scientific Diving
Apr - Sep 2015: Research assistant. WCJ Consultancy & SEACAMS
Jan-Dec 2014: Field scientist. Blue Bentures Belize
Oct 2013 - Jan 2014: Marine consultant (self-employed). WCJ Consultancy
Apr 2012: Research assistant. Cardigan Bay cetacean acoustic tracking
Aug 2011 - Jan 2012: Marine research officer. Frontier, Tanzania
2015 - present: PhD on microplastics in the deep sea. SAMS UHI
2012-13: MSc Marine Biology (distinction). Plymouth University
2008-2011: BSc (Hons) Zoology and Animal Behaviour (1st class). University of Wales, Bangor
Awards and prizes
2017 Winner of P1 Marine Foundation National Student of the Year for PhD research 'Microplastics in the marine environment'
2017 Runner up in the MASTS ASM best student talk
2016 University of the Highlands and Islands conference and training fund to present at the 7th late summer workshop in Germany
2016 University of the Highlands and Islands conference travel and training fund to present at Micro2016 international conference
2016 MASTS small grant award to attend and present at Micro2006 international conference
Peer review for the journal Marine Pollution Bulletin
Demonstrator, Marine Conservation (year 3) module on the BSc (Hons) Marine Science programme
Lecturer, Marine Pollution (year 3) module on the BSc Marine Science programme
Reader and scribe for BSc examinations
2016 Extended Ellett Line research cruise in the Northeast Atlantic Ocean: Deep sea sampling using epibenthic sled and on-board sediment processing. Also assisted with sampling and analysing water for dissolved oxygen concentration.
2017 Extended Ellett Line research cruise in the North east Atlantic, deep-sea sediment coring and on board processing, assisting with various analysis of water chemistry.
Public engagement experience
Series of microplastic activities with local beaver Scout group, 2017
Public screening of the film ‘A Plastic Ocean’ with interactive displays after the film, 2017
Invited speaker at the University of the Third Age Oban group, 2017
Blog for the Bristish Ecological Society on mcirobeads: http://britishecologicalsociety.org/microbeads-small-plastics-causing-big-problems.
Science-communication short video about microplastics in the deep sea and work undertaken on 2016 research cruise: https://youtu.be/yegVaVjFMRs
October 2017: Featured in Sky Ocean Rescue documentary ‘A Plastic Voyage’ broadcast on Sky news and Sky Atlantic
22nd August 2017: BBC news online ‘Microplastics found in Rockall Trough deep sea creatures’
Deep-Sea Biology Society
Women in Science and Engineering Society
Scottish Microplastics Research Group