Microplastics in Tampa Bay

This weekend Mom and I attended a program at Eckerd College on Microplastics in TampaBay. It was hosted by two college marine biology teachers (Dr. David Hastings and Dr. Koty Sharp). I was eager to volunteer, but not so eager to enter the water, to collect a sample of water.

We learned what micro plastics are and how, presumably, they are entering our waterways. I was shocked to know that many of the fabrics we wear put off 1900+ particles of “lint” per wash. Many of the fabrics contain plastics!

I quickly grasped the effect that micro plastics can have on sea life and beyond. I really like zooplankton and enjoyed a video they showed of the zooplankton eating the micro plastics as they filter fed.

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We brought the water samples to the lab and the college kids filtered the water and then we looked at the filters under the microscopes. I got to count up the pieces of plastic on my filter. I had 16, 2 of which were possibly microbeads! Microbeads come from exfoliating products and possibly from other broken down larger plastics in the oceans and waterways. The government is working on phasing out the use of microbeads by making them illegal in beauty products.

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I thought it was awesome that the professor was willing to sit and answer my questions and spark my interest.

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In Tampa Bay alone they estimate 23,000,000,000,000 (23 trillion!) particles of micro plastics!

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Next we switched to a different lab. I quickly volunteered to collect the sample with the plankton net.

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This time we were looking for micro organisms in the microscopes. I found lots of little things moving around and noticed the size was similar to the micro plastics. I can easily see how they can be consumed.

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Another spark? Yes! I now want to tell all my friends about single use plastics and why they are bad. I don’t think I am going to remove plastics from my clothing but will think about that as Mom and Dad get me new clothing in the future. I want to collect products and learn how to safely dispose of them. Maybe I can do a drive at the community center or a project for 4-H on micro plastics! ¬†Hmmmm… my mind is running.

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