There I was in Greenland. I was holding a little auk. I was waiting for the tiny bird to poop. This is not  what I expected on my first research trip!

I’m a scientist. I was going to study where these birds look for food. I put trackers on them. But the trackers fell off! So, I had to change my idea.

I would study what the birds ate instead. To do that, I had to collect their poop. That would tell me what they had eaten.

Before I tested my samples, I heard some bad news. I learned that parent birds were feeding plastic to their chicks.

Justine Ammendolia holds a little auk.

a little auk

Big Problem

I returned home to Canada to think about this. The ocean and fishing are important where I live. But, I knew our shores were piling up with plastic.

I had a lot of questions. How much plastic was getting into the oceans? How can we stop it?

To find out, I became a garbage detective. My partners and I are creating reports on plastics. We study seven beaches. We find plastic trash. Where did it come from?








I became a garbage detective.

Still, we can make some connections. One beach had thin, plastic threads. They came from old fishing ropes. The ropes heated up in the sun. Then the threads broke free. They littered the beach.

Clues like this help us define the problem. That will help us solve the problem. We can make a plan.  

Small Pieces

Most of the plastics we find are tiny. ​​​​​​They’re called microplastics. We find a lot. These tiny pieces have lost their original shape. It’s hard to tell what they broke off of.

My team works hard to collect plastic trash from beaches. 

This handful of trash is made up of plastic.