Thames Manta Project

 Sampling for microplastics on the Thames and Medway.


Microplastics are small pieces of plastic less than 5mm (nanoplastics are 50µm-5mm) including of ‘nurdles’ (preproduction plastic pellets), ‘biobeads’ (nurdle size beads used in sewage treatment), microbeads and microfibers.  The plastics come from a range of sources; cosmetics, sanitary items, clothing and road run off.

Estuaries and Microplastics

There have been a number of discrete projects looking at the microplastic content of the river and estuary;

  • Kings College have found levels of microplastics in the sediment
  • Royal Holloway and Natural History Museum have found microfibres in the stomachs of the aquatic life in the Estuary
  • Exxpedition Round Britain 2017 carried out one trawl and found over 100 microbeads in the sample, a significant order higher than they found elsewhere.
  • ZSL are currently monitoring spawning locations of fish species, the smelt, in the upper tidal river and are providing samples to Royal Holloway to  discover the content of micro plastics.

The Project

There has been no strategic or temporal study of microbeads on the Thames or Medway Estuaries. However with the ban coming in 2018 presents a key point to start to monitor the improvement such interventions make on the environment.

The manta deployed
Samples with microbeads


Specific sites will be given to confirmed attendees, timings are for planning purposes. Weather may cause surveying to be cancelled.


Samples and dates

Samples and analyse of the 2018 samples is currently underway.  Dates are below for the first part of the year, sign up now to join us.  Training will be held on one of the Medway dates each month,  the morning of the 4th May and 2nd June.  Most Medway sampling is from midday, except the 1st June which starts at 1100. From Richmond please prepare for an early morning around 0700, London and Gravesend around 0800-0900.

To contribute to the research or volunteer to help sample please contact us on or fill in our volunteer form

Follow the project on Facebook and Twitter to keep up to date @thamesmanta


Manta Trawling


We are great full for all our supporters, funders and volunteers that make this project possible.