After an intensive evaluation process, the NOAA Marine Debris Program is proud to announce the four recipients of our 2017 research awards, totaling $935,156 of funding toward marine debris research efforts. Marine debris is a relatively new field of research, and there are many opportunities to advance understanding of how debris impacts the environment. The NOAA Marine Debris Program held a nationwide competitive funding opportunity to support original, hypothesis-driven research projects focused on the ecological risk assessment, exposure studies, and fate and transport of marine debris. These awards continue the Marine Debris Program’s commitment to improve our understanding of the ecological risks associated with marine debris including levels of exposure to debris, as well as the fate and transport of marine debris in nearshore, coastal environments.
This year's funded projects are:
Arizona State University ($195,837) will use a risk assessment framework to quantify microplastics (plastic pieces <5mm in size) in water, sediment, and bivalves at three sites in American Samoa, and assess the types and concentrations of organic contaminants in those microplastics.
The University of Connecticut ($257,531) will identify what effects microplastic consumption has on oysters, what types of microplastics are most likely to be consumed by oysters, and increase understanding of how microplastics are impacting marine resources.
University of North Carolina at Wilmington ($289,098) will assess if black sea bass consume contaminated microplastics and if microplastics are being transferred between prey and predator species.
Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution ($192,690) will assess the role of seasonal phytoplankton blooms in increasing the availability of microplastics for sea scallop consumption, and if microplastics serve as means of transferring dangerous bacterial pathogens to scallops.