Satilla Riverkeeper partners with MAREX/Sea Grant to sample microplastics
Volunteers have been sampling for microplastics in the water at 3 coastal sites in the Satilla River watershed. From initial research at the Skidaway Institute of Oceanagraphy, researchers have learned that microplastics are everywhere in our coastal environments--water, sediments, and in organisms.
[Microplastics are man made polymers made of natural or synthetic substances that are .3 mm to 5mm in diameter. These plastic pieces are so small that you need a high-powered microscope to see them. These plastics come in a variety of forms including films, beads, and most commonly, fibers. Plastics take hundreds to thousands of years to fully decompose. These tiny microplastics are more easily ingested by marine organisms, including organisms we eat. The primary source of microplastics are industrial raw materials, such as “nurdles” (small plastic pellets) , that are lost in transportation. The second biggest source is the breakdown of larger pieces of plastics by UltraViolet radiation and physical forces such as waves, or interactions from organisms such as shredding or tearing.]
We will filter water samples through 3 sized filters, the smallest is 63 microns. This will catch any microplastic pieces or fibers, and scientists at Skidaway will process our samples, determining the prevalence of microplastics in our waters.
How can we stop trash and plastics pollution?
Reduce the amount of waste you produce. Reuse items whenever possible. Choose reusable items over disposable ones. Recycle as much as possible. Redesign to make items last longer. Remove from the environment (coastal clean-ups). Globally: Improve waste management, environmental education and recycling facilities on a global scale.
“The only way to manage the marine debris pollution issue is through prevention—changing behaviors that cause marine debris to enter the environment.” - National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration