Participatory tools
14 Nov

Webinar: Tracking plastics in our marine environment

In this webinar, Heni Unwin and Ross Vennell from the Cawthron Institute will showcase an interactive online tool they’ve developed to predict the movement of plastic waste around New Zealand’s coastline.

The Ocean Plastic Simulator uses regional models of tides, winds and currents to track how plastic moves and where it will end up. You can drop virtual plastic at four locations: Cook Strait, Golden and Tasman Bays (Te Tau Ihu), Hauraki Gulf/Firth of Thames and Tauranga Moana. The model is based on a plastic water bottle floating in the top 3 metres of the sea.

Plastic waste is a global problem and is destroying marine environments. Plastic that ends up in the ocean can accumulate on beaches or be transported many kilometres by ocean currents. The tool shows how coastal communities are connected.

Potential uses of the simulator

Initially designed as an educational tool for schools, the simulator also has potential for environmental monitoring. With the right source data, it can easily be modified to show where plastic pollution has come from or to predict movement of living things. For example, the aquaculture industry could use it to predict or track movement of larvae and spat, invasive species, or lost equipment.

This webinar is open to everyone but will be of particular interest to regional councils, marine managers, researchers and the aquaculture industry.  

You can join us at the venue, through a virtual hub, or register via Zoom videoconferencing to view on your own device.

We welcome questions in advance if you have anything specific you would like covered.

About the speakers

Heni Unwin is Kairangahau/Researcher at the Cawthron Institute. She implements mātauranga Māori in science projects and works with Cawthron's Māori Research & Business Development and Coastal & Freshwater teams.

Ross Vennell is a physical oceanographer with over 25 years’ experience in coastal and shelf oceanography. He is Coastal and Ecosystems Team Leader at Cawthron and an Assistant Professor at the University of Otago’s Department of Marine Science. He has worked on projectsto produce highly detailed measurements of tidal currents and remote ocean sensing by satellite.


Speakers will be at:

Cawthron Institute, 98 Halifax St E, Nelson*

*All visitors to Cawthron must sign in on arrival. If you plan to attend in person let us know a[email protected]

Set up your own virtual hub:

If you want to get a group of colleagues together and set up your own virtual hub, please email us at [email protected] so we can send you instructions on how to join the webinar using videoconferencing.

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