Emily Hoad, Marine Biologist and Oceanographer Seaford Head, English Channel


OCEAN EXPERT - On all things ocean, Emily Hoad helped the Cleaner Ocean Foundation fine tune SeaVax for eventual development in the English Channel before launching onto the the international stage with free licenses to partners worldwide as part of a World Ocean Anti-plastic Alliance (WOAA). Emily graduated with a first in her masters report on White shark behaviour, and a 2:1 overall in Marine Biology from the University of Southampton. She said: "It’s been an incredible four years and I’m 
excited for the next chapter!"





Emily Hoad is a Marine Biologist and Oceanographer. She brought her considerable expertise to the SeaVax project in 2018 for a few brief months, with a dedicated study of the state of the art instrumentation that could be incorporated in a production SeaVax, also including higher end sensors for research and development purposes. She worked with the designers of the ocean cleaning craft to help improve the efficiency of the collection of marine plastic. Her mission was to define the objectives, help the engineers refine the existing filtration stages and improve and develop future feedback loops, so that SeaVax is able to read the ocean and tune itself to the plastic particles in the water, in the process identifying and bypassing marine life.


This is a gigantic undertaking for any organisation, but by applying her expertise as part of a team effort, and with equal enthusiasm from all the project members, Emily hoped to help the Foundation move the project on from the conceptual and development stages to the open sea as a prototype. One of the first tasks identified was to set up a marine biology laboratory on site near the tank testing facilities. The SeaVax project has been put on hold, awaiting suitable funding calls. Meantime some of the academic consortium assembled in 2020 are now working on an attempt at the Atlantic solar record, with the youngest member of the team helping to complete a test tank model of the Elizabeth Swann.




NETS - Fishing nets that are trapped on these beach timbers may look in keeping with this shoreline, but those nets soon break down into micro particles that will enter our food chain. Copyright © photographs, 31 July 2018. All rights reserved, Cleaner Ocean Foundation Ltd.






The current state of microplastic pollution has been globally recognized as having reached a critical pinnacle. In 2010, 12 million metric tonnes of plastic were estimated to be present in the ocean, with an addition of 8 million metric tonnes being inputted per annum. Of this, 236 thousand tonnes are composed of microplastics; defined as being less than 5mm.

Microplastics bear similarity in size and motility to marine microbiota known as plankton and the presence of these microorganisms is essential to total ecosystem functioning. Fundamentally, they are composed of two separate taxa, namely phytoplankton and zooplankton. Phytoplankton are the basis of all marine pelagic foodwebs, where solar energy is harnessed and converted into a primary organic energy source. Then the zooplankton, as primary consumers of the phytoplankton, are responsible for the initial transfer of primary energy to successive higher trophic levels. 

The amount of ocean plastic is set to increase by a factor of 10 by 2020 and by 2050, it is predicted that at the current rate of input and accumulation, there will be more plastic in the ocean than fish (by dry mass).

Whilst marine plastic is prevalent in surface waters, specifically 0 – 2.5m, traces have been found at depths of 11km below sea surface level (henceforth abbreviated to SSL), meaning synthetic polymers are contaminating even the most remote regions of Earth.

Sources of marine microplastic are either primary: derived from many popular daily use cosmetics (one bottle of facial exfoliant alone contains around 300,000 microbeads) or secondary; present from the degradation of macroplastics via ultraviolet radiation and mechanical weathering.



Laurent Lebreton map of the world showing plastic waste from rivers


LEBRETON 2017 - Mass of river plastic flowing into oceans in tonnes per year. River contributions are derived from individual watershed characteristics such as population density, mismanaged plastic waste (MPW) production per country and monthly averaged runoff. The model is calibrated against river plastic concentration measurements from Europe, Asia, North and South America.




Many marine organisms cannot distinguish plastic from food and often starve by the accumulation of non-digestible plastic in the gastric system.

The Great Pacific Gyre has the largest aggregation of plastics and it is estimated that 80% of seabirds feeding here have ingested plastic; other marine animals having 74% [dry mass] plastic debris-composed diets.

Toxin accumulation is occurring through successive trophic level transfer in marine food webs. With fish being the primary protein source for 16% of the global population, it means that microplastics are prevalent in many human diets. For example, one 6-oyster serving, it is estimated 50 particles of microplastic will be heedlessly consumed.

Components of plastics are carcinogenic. For example, vinyl chloride, the major component of the common plastic PVC, is a known human carcinogen.



Christian Schmidt map of the world showing river pollution concentrations


SCHMIDT OCT 2017 - A substantial fraction of marine plastic debris originates from land-based sources. Rivers potentially act as a major transport pathway for all sizes of plastic debris. 



Jenna Jambeck map of the world showing plastic waste from countries


JAMBECK 2015 - Global map with each country shaded according to the estimated mass of mismanaged plastic waste [millions ofmetric tons (MT)] generated in 2010 by populations living within 50 km of the coast. 192 countries were considered. Countries not included in the study are shaded white.




Tackling the problem from the source, which ultimately involves removing microplastics from the ocean without harming the extant biology.

SeaVax will be a fully autonomous machine that has the ability to differentiate and separate marine biota from man-made polymer. It will collect micro to macro sized plastic via non-invasive ocean filtration with minimal –ve impact for maximal +ve effect.


The SeaVax project encompasses many of the Sustainable Development Goals that the UN are hoping to achieve in one. To begin with Seavax is solar and wind powered, meeting SDG 7 aims and in the longer term SDG13, as in research into zero emission ocean transport. The objective is to develop the innovative technology (SDG9) to help in the fight alleviate hunger and provide food security (SDG2) and the vessels clean rivers and oceans (SDG6). Lastly, WOAA sits well with SDG17 in that the proposed World Ocean AntiPlastic Alliance encourages international cooperation in seeking to clean the oceans as per SDG14.



Emily Hoad, marine biologist and oceanographer, Seaford Head, English Channel


CHALK CLIFFS - The famous cliffs on the south coast of England looking across to France. This secluded beach, leading up the to the Seaford Head nature reserve looked free of plastic waste, but on closer inspection, even here we found several familiar single use plastic bottles. Copyright © photographs, 31 July 2018. All rights reserved, Cleaner Ocean Foundation Ltd and Emily Hoad.



Coca Cola PET plastic coke bottle 


ASDA supermarkets lemonade PET plastic bottle  Nivea plastic bottle Exceat beach English Channel


PLASTIC BOTTLES - All the usual culprits. We spotted these household names on the beach at Exceat near Seaford Head on the south coast of England. Companies who sell goods in plastic containers could offset their plastic footprints by contributing to our ocean research. Copyright © photographs, 31 July 2018. All rights reserved, Cleaner Ocean Foundation Ltd.




EMILY ON LINKEDIN - Emily was born in Hong Kong with 14 years expatriate upbringing in Dubai, U.A.E. She Recently (July 2018) graduated with BSc double honours in Marine Sciences.


EDUCATION - University of Southampton, Degree Name Bachelor of Science - BS

Field Of Study Marine Biology and Oceanography. Dates attended or expected graduation 2015 – 2018

Activities and Societies: Southampton University Marine Conservation Society, Southampton University National Oceanography Centre Society, Southampton University Wakeboarding Society, Southampton University Kitesurfing Society, Southampton University Ski and Snowboard Society Southampton University Sub-Aqua Society, Southampton University Surfing Society Southampton University Skateboarding Society.

Dubai College, Degree Name GCSE

Field Of Study A-Levels: Biology, Geography, French & Art. Dates attended or expected graduation 2007 – 2014

Activities and Societies: Clarinet Choir, Competitive Swim Squad, Netball Squad, Intermediate Band, Senior Choir, Breakdance, Scuba Diving Club.

Roedean School, Brighton - Grade AS Level - Dates attended or expected graduation 2012 – 2013

Activities and Societies: Netball Team, Swim Squad, Art and Crafts, Drama Society, French Speaking Club.





AQUARIST - In her first year of Marine Biology at Southampton University, Emily travelled to Dubai for the winter holidays and volunteered in the Lost Chambers Aquarium at Atlantis, The Palm, Dubai. For two weeks she was an assistant aquarist, aiding the running and maintenance of both large and small 
exhibits, as well as front of house; building on her previous internship experience.



Powerboating Level 2

Proficiency In Personal Safety and Social Responsibilities 

Proficiency In Personal Survival Techniques 
Proficiency in Elementary First Aid Rescue

Multilevel Diver 
Clarinet & Bass Clarinet Grade 4

AWARE - Fish Identification Underwater Navigator 


Dubai Community Action Service Award

DoE Gold Award DoE Silver Award

DoE Bronze Award Endeavour Prize 2008 Winner 


Food Safety Level 2

Health and Safety Level 2 Primary & Secondary Care 

CPR(BLS)/First Aid - Adult 


Arabic, English, French



Emergency First Response Instruction



Conversion of a Ford Transit to a mobile electricity generator


AWARENESS ART - Emily helped to spruce up one of our support vehicles though not completing it in 2018 due to time constraints. This Ford Transit is now being used as the base vehicle for a wind-turbine test rig developed with the engineering expertise of Lolita D'Ortona, a masters degree student from Belgium. The van will carry comestibles for the crew during ocean awareness events and double for the on site construction of the SeaVax prototype vehicles, benefiting from solar and wind energy generation if all goes well in 2019 - with an event in Hastings planned for September. Copyright © photograph May  2019. All rights reserved, Cleaner Ocean Foundation Ltd.



Emily saw how useful welding is to the SeaVax project


WELDING - Emily learned as she watched the engineers in the workshops. One day she may add welding to her skills base, but did not get the chance in 2018. Copyright © photograph 25 July 2018. All rights reserved, Cleaner Ocean Foundation Ltd.





'IT ONLY GOES TO SHOWS' - Our tour bus undergoing some wiring checks before the weather turned nasty in 2018 - in a bit of a state. One of Emily's favourite vehicles is the VW Kombi or Camper. She saw how bodywork is shaped. With more time she could have lent a hand on the paintwork, but time is one thing that waits for no person. The welding on this vehicle was completed and the engine with new cylinder heads, running again. New interior panels were cut in October, ready for fitting in 2021 - and yes, shows from that point on. Emily was bong on the money. The practical skills Emily learned here should complement her existing drawing talent, should she ever decide to graphic her own vehicles. Copyright © photographs September 2018, and March 2020. All rights reserved, Cleaner Ocean Foundation Ltd.




Ocean awareness hippy van, Ford Transit Copyright COF Ltd 2018



[1] Jambeck, Jenna. R., et al. “Plastic Waste Inputs from Land into the Ocean.” Science, vol. 347, no. 6223, 13 Feb. 2015, pp. 768–771., doi:10.1126/science.1260352.

[2] Erik van Sebille et al 2015 Environ. Res. Lett. 10 124006

[3] https://www.nationalgeographic.org/encyclopedia/great-pacific-garbage-patch/

[4] https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2016/10/every-minute-one-garbage-truck-of-plastic-is-dumped-into-our-oceans/

[5] https://www.independent.co.uk/environment/nature/how-scientists-plan-to-clean-up-the-plastic-waste-threatening-marine-life-a6820276.html

[6] https://www.ellenmacarthurfoundation.org/publications/the-new-plastics-economy-rethinking-the-future-of-plastics-catalysing-action

[7] https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2017/nov/15/plastics-found-in-stomachs-of-deepest-sea-creatures

[8] Plastic Pollution Primer and Action Toolkit, Earth Day Network, 2018

[9] Lamb, Joleah B., et al. “Plastic Waste Associated with Disease on Coral Reefs.” Science, American Association for the Advancement of Science, 26 Jan. 2018, science.sciencemag.org/content/359/6374/460.

[10] https://coral.org/coral-reefs-101/coral-reef-ecology/coral-reef-biodiversity/https://www.earthday.org/2018/04/05/fact-sheet-plastics-in-the-ocean/ - _ftnref10

[11] https://www.theoceancleanup.com/updates/how-ocean-plastics-turn-into-a-dangerous-meal/


[13] WHO (2014). Global and regional food consumption patterns and trends. [online] Who.int. Available at: http://www.who.int/nutrition/topics/3_foodconsumption/en/index5.html

[14] FAO (2017). The State of World Fisheries Aquaculture 2006. [online] Fao.org. Available at: http://www.fao.org/docrep/009/A0699e/A0699E04.htm#4.1.




WHAT FUTURE OUR OCEANS? - The versatility of SeaVax™ is enhanced using a modular approach that helps us to develop these ocean going machines into an economic tool for the long-term prosperity of all fishing nations in the drive for a truly sustainable, circular economy. Copyright © photographs, 31 July 2018. All rights reserved, Cleaner Ocean Foundation Ltd.





Emily became involved in the SeaVax project in the summer of 2018 for around eight weeks. She helped the Foundation to develop the filtration mechanism theory of SeaVax working with computer and instrument technologists to mesh biology with engineering in the quest to clean up our oceans without causing undue harm to marine organisms. Conservation is the name of the game. She also created a draft specification for the equipment our marine biology laboratory that we hope to fit out in 2020, subject to funding.



Success is the product of international research collaboration and  great project management








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