AbsorptionThe soaking up of a substance (water, gas).
AdsorptionAdhesion of molecules to a surface without absorption.
AquiferA body of permeable rock containing groundwater.
BakeliteEarly form of brittle plastic made from formaldehyde and phenol.
Benthic zoneLowest level of a body of water, especially the ocean.
BFFPBreak Free From Plastic: a global movement envisioning a future free from plastic pollution.
BioaccumulationThis occurs when toxins build up in a food chain e.g. plankton eaten by little fish, eaten by big fish, eaten by seal, eaten by killer whale. Animals at the top of a food chain are the most severely affected.
Bio-beadsPlastic pellets used as a filtering medium in sewage treatment.
BiodegradableCapable of being decomposed by living organisms. Most things are biodegradable given time, so this term does not tell us how long it will take or under what conditions (bacteria, oxygen, humidity, pH etc). Without those conditions, the process can take many years. 
BiodiversityVariety of plant and animal life on our planet.
BioplasticsPlastics with carbon derived from biological sources rather than oil. For example, PLA (polylactic acid) is typically made from the sugars in corn starch, cassava or sugarcane.
BiosphereRegions of the earth inhabited by living organisms.
BycatchMarine wildlife unintentionally caught by commercial fishermen.
Catchment areaA basin or area drained by a river or rivers.
CetaceanA whale, dolphin or porpoise of the order Cetacea.
CICCommunity interest company or not-for-profit.
CITESConvention on International Trade in Endangered Species (of wild flora and fauna).
Citizen scientistA member of the public who collects and analyses data.
Climate changeSee: Global warming.
CompostableRelating to organic waste and the conditions under which it will biodegrade over a period of time. Some items may only degrade under industrial composting conditions. If an item states it is home compostable it should have a certification. 
DowncyclingThe recycling of waste where the recycled material is of lower quality and functionality than the original material.
DMSDimethyl sulphide, a compound produced by marine algae and bacteria which can become adsorbed by plastic, making it smell like food.
EcologyScience that studies living things and their environment.
EcosystemA web or network of relations among organisms.
EnvironmentEverything around us, living (biotic) or non-living (abiotic).
Epipelagic zoneThe surface layer or sunlight zone of the ocean which extends from the surface to 200 metres deep. 
FeedstockThe basic ingredient from which manufactured products are made.
FidraAn environmental charity protecting ecosystems by preventing pollution and promoting sustainability. Runs the Great Nurdle Hunt.
FlotsamDebris, especially wreckage of a ship or its cargo: found floating on or washed up by the sea.
Fly-tippingIllegal dumping of waste on unlicensed land.
Fossil fuelA natural fuel (coal, oil) formed in the geological past.
Ghost fishing gearAny discarded, lost, or abandoned, fishing gear in the marine environment. This continues to fish and trap animals, entangle and potentially kill marine life, smother habitat, and can be a hazard to navigation. 
Global warmingA term coined by Wallace Broecker in 1975 to describe the heating up of Planet Earth. Frank Luntz, a US media consultant coined the term “Climate Change” so his self-serving clients wouldn’t have to admit to the science of global warming.
Great Pacific Garbage PatchA gyre of marine debris. The patch covers 1.6 million square kilometres. An estimated 80,000 metric tons of plastic inhabit the patch, totalling 1.8 trillion pieces.
Greenhouse gasA gas that emits and absorbs radiant energy, e.g. methane, water vapour and CO2.
GreenwashingA form of advertising or marketing spin designed to deceive the public into thinking that their products, aims and policies are environmentally friendly. 
GroundwaterWater held underground in the soil.
HydrocarbonHydrocarbons are organic compounds made up of carbon and hydrogen. Most plastics in use today still come from hydrocarbons derived from crude oil, natural gas and coal.
Intertidal zoneThe intertidal zone is the area where the sea meets the land between high and low tides.
JetsamMaterial or goods that have been thrown overboard from a ship and washed ashore.
Manta netA fine mesh net used for water sampling, especially of microplastics.
MCZMarine Conservation Zone: an area designated to protect diverse species and habitats in the “blue belt” around the English Coast.
Marine debrisHuman-created waste that has been released into a lake, sea or water way. Also referred to as marine litter.
Marine environmentThe ocean is divided into four major zones: the intertidal, neritic, oceanic and abyssal. 
Marine ‘snow’A shower of organic material falling from upper waters to deep ocean.
MCSMarine Conservation Society: a UK-based not-for-profit organisation working with businesses, governments and communities to clean and protect oceans.
MethaneThe principal component of natural gas. Also a greenhouse gas released in sewage treatment.
MicrofibreA synthetic fibre having a diameter of less than ten micrometres. Shed from synthetic fabrics during machine washing.
Micro-organismA microscopic organism, especially a bacterium, virus or fungus.
MicroplasticAny type of plastic fragment that is between 1 micrometre and 5 millimetres in size. Primary microplastics are intentionally made at that size. Secondary microplastics arise from the degradation (breakdown) of larger plastic products through natural weathering processes after entering the environment. 
MOOCMassive Online Open Course: free online course for anyone wishing to learn a new skill.
Neritic zoneThe neritic zone is the shallow part of the ocean located between the intertidal zone and the oceanic zone. It has a maximum depth of about 200 meters, allowing sunlight to reach the seafloor.
NOAANational Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration (US): produce daily weather forecasts and storm warnings; also climate monitoring, fisheries management, coastal restoration and support marine commerce.
North Pacific GyreThe largest ecosystem on earth at 20 million square kilometres formed by four ocean currents.
NurdleA primary feedstock plastic used in the manufacture of plastics.
Ocean acidification The ongoing decrease in the pH of the Earth’s oceans, caused by the uptake of CO2 from the atmosphere.
OctinoxateOctyl methoxycinnamate. Commonly used in cosmetics and skin care products, including sun screens. It may cause endocrine disruption and reproductive disorders in marine mammals. 
OSPARA regional marine convention that was created with the objective of protecting the Marine Environment of the Northeast Atlantic. 
Ozone layerA region of Earth’s stratosphere between 15 and 30 km above the Earth that shields us from the Sun’s harmful ultraviolet radiation.
OxybenzoneOne of the most common chemical filters found in commercial chemical sunscreens.
PelagicRelating to the open sea.
PetrochemicalA chemical obtained from petroleum and natural gas.
pHA figure expressing the acidity or alkalinity of a solution.
PhotodegradableCapable of being decomposed by the action of light, especially sunlight. Example plastics becoming brittle when exposed to sunlight.
PhytoplanktonPlankton consisting of microscopic plants.
PlanktonPlankton are the diverse collection of (usually microscopic) organisms found in water, unable to propel themselves against a current. The word ‘plankton’ comes from the Greek word for drifter or wanderer. See Phytoplankton and Zooplankton.
Plastic (adjective)From the Greek plastikos: malleable, capable of being moulded.
Plastic (noun)A synthetic compound that can be moulded into solid objects.
PolymerA molecular structure built up chiefly or completely from a large number of similar units bonded together.
RecyclingRecycling is the process of converting waste materials into new materials and objects. In reality, little is effectively recycled i.e. into something with the same quality and functionality.
RiparianRelating to or situated on the banks of a river.
Risk assessmentIdentifying hazards that have the potential to cause harm. Analysing and evaluating the risk associated.
RunoffThe draining away of water (or substances carried in it) from the surface of an area of land.
Safeguarding policyA protection policy statement setting out how an organisation will keep children or vulnerable individuals safe white in their care.
SalinityThe saltiness or dissolved inorganic salt content of a body of water.
SASSurfers Against Sewage: a marine conservation charity working with communities to protect oceans, waves, beaches and marine life.
Sharps policyA policy statement setting out procedures volunteers should follow when encountering sharp objects such as needles, broken glass, etc.
SiliconeA polymer made up of siloxane. Typically heat-resistant and either liquid or rubber-like.
Single-use plasticPlastics used once before being thrown away or recycled: plastic bags, straws, coffee stirrers, soft drink or water bottles and most food packaging.
SludgeThick, soft, wet, viscous mixture of liquid and solid components, especially the product of an industrial process like wastewater treatment.
Sludge cakeOrganic wastewater solids that can be reused after stabilization processes such as anaerobic digestion.
SPI Code An industrial identification system used to identify the resin type that items were made from.
StrandlineA mark left by the high tide or a line of seaweed and other debris washed onto the beach.
TaxonomyThe science of naming, defining and classifying groups of biological organisms on the basis of shared characteristics. 
ThermoplasticsSubstances (especially synthetic resins) that become plastic on heating and harden on cooling.
ToxicityA measure of how poisonous or harmful a substance may be to life forms.
Transatlantic species migrationThe trans-ocean passage of marine animals from one continent to another by ‘hitchhiking’ on flotsam.
Trophic cascade collapseAn ecological concept that describes the knock-on effects of removing top predators from a food web, for example by hunting or fishing.
TubenosesSeabirds (from the order: Procellariformes) including albatrosses, fulmars, petrels, and shearwaters with tubular nostrils on their beaks. The Northern Fulmar is the symbol of Strandliners, as they nest along the cliffs at Pett Level and are the widely studied for plastic ingestion.
WasteUnwanted or unusable items discarded after use or function.
Waste streamThe complete flow of waste from domestic or industrial sources through to final disposal.
Wastewater treatmentA process used to remove contaminants from wastewater or sewage and convert it into an effluent that can be returned to the water cycle.
Water columnA vertical section of water from the surface of a sea, river or lake to the bottom sediment.
Water tableThe level below which the ground is saturated with water.
Wet wipeA moistened disposable wipe. Originally containing a plastic mesh, these are increasing being sold as plastic-free. They cause problems when flushed down toilets.
WishcyclingInappropriate disposal of a non-recyclable object. Contaminating a batch of recyclables with a non-recyclable object — a Tetra Pak carton for instance — can lead to the whole batch being rejected and ending up in a landfill.
ZooplanktonPlankton consisting of small animals and the immature stages of larger animals.