In 2018, Philippe Cousteau and the EarthEcho team explored the second largest and fastest growing city in the country of Australia connecting with stakeholders,  city planners,  and citizen scientists in Melbourne. Alongside 25 Expedition Fellows (teachers from Australia and the United States), Philippe learned more about how actions in the city can have dramatic consequences in the deep blue. We worked with local researchers and policymakers to examine the various sources of land‐based plastic pollution that has resulted in the waters of the iconic Port Philip Bay being recently described as plastic soup. From fleece fibers in wastewater to degrading buoys to beads in personal care products,  our team examined the persistent presence of plastics in the wider context of other stressors on the system.

As recently as 2017, plastics pollution on southern Australian beaches has made the news due to illegal dumping of plastic nurdles that resulted in microplastic pollution across the normally pristine Warrnambool coastline. In August 2017, an exhaustive evaluation of marine sediments in NSW, Victoria, South Australia, and Tasmania demonstrated that plastics pollution was ubiquitous throughout Australia’s southern coast, not only in the water column but in sediments. In a single year an estimated 8 million tons of plastic pollution enter our ocean from 192 coastal countries, a staggering number that speaks to the urgency that we take action to mitigate this issue especially in urban centers on the coast like Melbourne, Australia.

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