Jessica Merrett
PhD Candidate
Field of Research: 
Marine contamination
Contact details:

Level 4 East
Biological Sciences South (E26)
UNSW, Kensington 2052

Title: Distribution and impacts of marine debris in a complex, urbanized estuary: Sydney Harbour

About: Marine debris is globally recognised as a threat to natural systems and is defined as man-made solid material that intentionally or unintentionally finds its way into the marine environment. The vast quantity of debris entering the ocean worldwide is exponentially rising. Out of the different types of debris, plastics are a particularly pervasive pollutant, with up to 80 percent of the waste on land and at sea being comprised of plastic.

Despite marine debris being a ubiquitous contaminant in the marine environment, there exists a paucity of data on the distribution of debris in the world’s urbanized estuaries. The aim of this project is to examine the spatial distribution and abundance of different debris types. The potential for debris to impact on benthic habitats will also be investigated. The outcomes of this project will include a model of the distribution and aggregation of marine debris and insights into potential sources and movement patterns. These outcomes will clearly outline how marine debris poses a threat within Sydney Harbour and will assist with the sustainable management of this estuary.

Supervisors: Prof. Emma Johnston and Dr. Katherine Dafforn