How to collect guts for science

CLEAR collects fish, bird, and seal guts in Newfoundland and Labrador to see whether they’re eating plastics. If you fish or hunt, we’d love to have your guts! What we need: A frozen bag of guts (from the mouth to the anus) and corresponding information (per animal). If you are collecting guts for a specific CLEAR study, we also need a “blank”. Findings from your guts will be posted on this website, used to write scientific papers, inform policymakers, and propose plans for plastic pollution control in the province and municipalities. If you’re a member of the public, we can also send you your results directly. 

Bagging: Get the entire gut, from the mouth to the anus. Place the gut inside a sealed, leak-proof plastic bag (like a ziplock or a trash bag tied off at the end). Use one bag per gut. Write the information below on the outside of the bag with a permanent marker and/or on a paper put inside the bag.

Tagging: We need the following information:

  • Species (Cod? Char? Harbour seal?)
  • Location caught (Black Tickle? Cox Island? Petty Harbour?). If you have lat/long, great. If not, the name of the place is fine.
  • Date caught, including year.
  • If possible: sex of the animal
  • If possible: length or weight of the animal
  • If you want the results, make sure your name and preferred contact information is included

Freezing: Please freeze the guts. If they thaw a little and then refreeze, that’s fine. They’ll be gross, but that won’t ruin the plastic sample. Please do not add ethanol, peroxide, etc. 

Blanks: If you are collecting guts as part of a CLEAR sponsored or partnered study, we also need a “blank,” to see what plastics are already in the air, bag, gear, and coming off your clothes that might end up in the sample, including plastics the size of dust! Set one of the bags open while you collect samples so air, spray, etc. falls into it. If you have a piece of tape, stick the tape to your clothes– hat, gloves, coat, etc to get samples of lint. Stick the tape to the inside of the bag. If you don’t have tape, take little pinches of your clothes and drop them into the bag. If you’re using rope or other plastic gear or you’re in an area with chipping paint, put a little sample of that in the bag too. Basically, we need a sample of any tiny plastic that might contaminate the sample. Write “blank” and the date and location on the bag. We need one per day of sampling. 

Contact us at if you have questions or want to arrange pick up of samples.


Photo of char guts collected by Liz Pijogge, 2019. Photo: Liz Pijogge.