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Life Below Water

Our researchers investigate current questions focusing on life below water, such as the impact of Marine Protected Areas on coral reefs in the Maldives. Our students, staff and alumni also support activities aiming to raise awareness and tackle the problem of ocean pollution.

In the Spotlight: Flipflopi Clean Seas Expedition

The Flipflopi is a traditional ‘dhow’ sailing boat made from plastic waste collected from Kenya’s beaches and towns. Every single element of the boat has been constructed by hand and the whole boat has been clad in colourful sheets of recycled flip-flops collected from Lamu’s beaches, where they are among the most prolific items found during beach clean-ups. Dhow building is traditional to the Lamu area and the design and building of the boat has been led by the local team from Kenya. The project was co-founded by Northumbria alumni Ben Morison and supported by our senior lecturer, Simon Scott-Harden. Simon oversaw the scientific research being undertaken during the expedition, manufacturing sampling devices that are used to investigate effects of microplastics in the ocean. The project has partnered with UN Environment’s Clean Seas campaign, which engages governments, the public and the private sector in the fight against marine plastic pollution. 

At a Glance: From Our Research to Our Operations

  • Our students have conducted research measuring microplastics found on the North East Coast to gain a better understanding of the state of plastic waste in our water.
  • We run regular student beach cleans and litter picks in collaboration with the Students’ Union.
  • Our student Nathan Smith has launched the start-up OceanJunkie, which recycles discarded fishing nets into bracelets and reinvests money from sales into helping fund community beach cleans.
  • All fish served in our campus catering outlets is MSC certified, meaning it comes from sustainable sources.
  • Our researchers investigate issues such as the impact that Marine Protected Areas can have from a political and socio-economic perspective.

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