Posts tagged with

research

Microplastic Pollution: A complex mixture of diverse polymers, shapes and sizes

Posted Thu, 01/25/2018 - 11:00

By: Chelsea M. Rochman, Guest Blogger and Assistant Professor in the Dept. of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of Toronto

The microplastics literature is growing at a tremendous rate. Every day, new studies are published about their sources, fate, and effects. There is no longer any doubt that microplastics of all shapes, sizes, and types contaminate diverse ocean habitats and animals. We also understand much more about the effects of microplastics on organisms than we did just a few years ago. Still, there are research gaps to fill. As part of a project funded by the NOAA Marine Debris Program, we set out to answer questions related to these research gaps. We examined whether environmentally-relevant concentrations of different types of microplastics directly affect freshwater prey and indirectly affect their predators. Check out the results which were just published.

The NOAA Marine Debris Program Awards Funding to Four New Projects to Research Marine Debris

Posted Tue, 08/29/2017 - 12:30

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. Check out this year's funded projects.

Quantifying Microplastics on National Park Beaches

Posted Thu, 06/29/2017 - 11:00

By: Dr. Stefanie Whitmire, Guest Blogger and Research Scientist at the Baruch Institute of Coastal Ecology & Forest Science, Clemson University

Microplastics are plastic pieces measuring less than five millimeters in size and in recent decades, there have been many studies that indicate a strong presence of this type of debris in marine and coastal environments. Microplastics can come from a variety of sources. Some microplastics are manufactured at that small size as microbeads, found in products like toothpaste and facial scrubs, or pellets, which are used to make larger plastic items. Microfibers, another type of microplastic debris, come from synthetic items such as rope or clothing (like fleece). Microplastics also come from the breakdown of larger plastic pieces, such as water bottles and fishing line. To investigate the number and distribution of microplastics on National Park beaches across the Unites States, researchers at Clemson University collaborated with the National Park Service to collect and analyze sand from 37 coastal National Parks.

Detecting Microplastics in the Marine Environment

Posted Thu, 03/23/2017 - 11:30

Microplastics are a type of plastic marine debris that are less than five millimeters in size. Research on this type of debris has become more widespread, but since there is no single agreed-upon method for separating, counting, and weighing microplastics in water samples, it is difficult to compare results across studies. Common approaches may be used, but most laboratories develop their own procedures based on factors such as budget, equipment availability, labor, and the specific research questions being asked.

Since so many different protocols are being used, the NOAA Marine Debris Program partnered with researchers at the University of Washington Tacoma to compare different methodologies.  

Influence of Various Aqueous Conditions on Additives Releasing From, and Pollutants Sorbing To, Microplastic Debris

Posted Thu, 01/12/2017 - 10:30

This week marks “Research Week” on our blog and we will be highlighting marine debris research projects throughout the week! Research is an important part of addressing marine debris, as we can only effectively address it by understanding the problem the best we can.

By: Rob Hale, Guest Blogger and Professor in the Department of Aquatic Health Science at the Virginia Institute of Marine Science (VIMS)

Plastics are an increasing problem in our ocean and waterways. The plastic products we use, and hence those that find their way into the environment, are made of different polymers. These include products ranging from disposable water bottles, fishing gear, electronics, microbeads from personal care products, to furniture. Chemical additives are inserted into many plastic polymers to modify plastic properties such as color, flexibility, weather resistance, and flame retardancy. These additives may leach out over time, depending on the chemical structure of both the plastic polymer and the additive.

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Different Types of Plastic Litter Lead to Different Types of Effects in Animals

Posted Wed, 01/11/2017 - 10:30

This week marks “Research Week” on our blog and we will be highlighting marine debris research projects throughout the week! Research is an important part of addressing marine debris, as we can only effectively address it by understanding the problem the best we can.

By: Chelsea M. Rochman, Guest Blogger and Assistant Professor in the Dept. of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of Toronto

When I go to the beach, anywhere in the world, I can kneel down and find small bits of plastic litter in the sand—these bits are called “microplastics.” Microplastic has become a common pollutant. It can be found globally, from the equator to the poles, in the ocean, lakes, and rivers. Microplastics are also eaten by and can be found inside nearly 700 species of animals, which likely mistake them for food.

If you take a closer look at this litter, you will notice that it is diverse— a handful of microplastics looks like party confetti, with several colors and shapes. This is because there are many types of microplastics that enter the environment.

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Can Tiny Plastic Particles in the Ocean Introduce Contaminants to the Food Web?

Posted Tue, 01/10/2017 - 10:30

This week marks “Research Week” on our blog and we will be highlighting marine debris research projects throughout the week! Research is an important part of addressing marine debris, as we can only effectively address it by understanding the problem the best we can.

By: Amy NS Siuda (Eckerd College), Kara Lavender Law (Sea Education Association), and Tony Andrady (Helix Science), Guest Bloggers and Principal Investigators for the Research Project “Investigating the Influence of Microplastics (and contaminants) on the Grazing Behavior of Copepods”

Can the tiniest plastic particles in the ocean introduce contaminants to the food web? This very question was at the heart of our recent research project, funded by the NOAA Marine Debris Program. As a first step to answering this question, we proposed to test whether microscopic copepods, the most abundant multicellular organisms in the ocean, would eat contaminated plastic particles.

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The United States of Trash: A Quantitative Analysis of Marine Debris on U.S. Beaches and Waterways

Posted Mon, 01/09/2017 - 12:30

This week marks “Research Week” on our blog and we will be highlighting marine debris research projects throughout the week! Research is an important part of addressing marine debris, as we can only effectively address it by understanding the problem the best we can.

By: George H. Leonard, PhD, Guest Blogger and Chief Scientist for the Ocean Conservancy

Have you ever wondered how much trash is on U.S. beaches? So have we! At Ocean Conservancy, we have spearheaded the International Coastal Cleanup (ICC) for over 30 years and have collected data on the materials that are cleaned up each year. However, we haven’t done a rigorous, quantitative analysis of those data to provide a baseline by which to understand changes over time and spatial differences in marine debris across the U.S. The NOAA Marine Debris Program (MDP) has similarly monitored marine debris at a number of sites around the country, but also has not yet tried to rigorously evaluate what all the data mean. So, we have both teamed up with scientists Drs. Chris Wilcox and Denise Hardesty at Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) in Australia to bring the power of statistics to the problem. 

It’s Research Week on the Marine Debris Blog!

Posted Mon, 01/09/2017 - 10:30

This week marks “Research Week” on our blog and we will be highlighting marine debris research projects throughout the week! Research is an important part of addressing marine debris, as we can only effectively address it by understanding the problem the best we can.

Stay tuned starting later today for a post each day about our research efforts. We’ll wrap up with a Reddit “Ask Us Anything” on microplastics Thursday afternoon! Tune in on Thursday (1/12) at 1pm EDT to check out the conversation with the NOAA Marine Debris Program’s (MDP’s) science team and ask some microplastics questions.

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Marine Debris Research: Ecological and Economic Assessment of Derelict Fishing Gear in the Chesapeake Bay

Posted Thu, 10/13/2016 - 13:41

By: Amy Uhrin, Chief Scientist for the NOAA Marine Debris Program

The Chesapeake Bay blue crab fishery accounts for 50% of the United States blue crab harvest, and is worth about $80 million annually. It’s estimated that about 600,000 crab traps (also called “pots”) are actively fished on an annual basis in the Bay. Some crab pots become lost (derelict) when the pot’s buoy line becomes detached or cut, either by vessel propellers, faulty lines, or vandalism. Strong storms can also move pots from their original deployment location, making them difficult to relocate. In addition, pots may be abandoned, as has been observed at high rates in some regions of the Bay. Once lost, derelict pots can damage sensitive habitats and continue to capture blue crabs and other animals, often resulting in their death.