Copyright © 2017 · All Rights Reserved · Biology, Diving, Travelling.
Posted on mars 16, 2015
I arrived in Australia at the end of February to do my 6 months Master’s internship. So cool to see wallabies on the campus instead of pigeons (in Paris) and boars (in Marseille) ! Wildlife is so beautiful here. My MSc minor project tooks place at the Tropical Water and Aquatic Ecosystem Research Center (TropWATER), James Cook University, Townsville.
Plastic pollution has become a ubiquitous problem in the marine environment. It can cause problems to marine species and affect habitat quality. The amount of plastic produced every year is increasing and so the negative impacts of plastic pollution are increasing in both spatial scale and severity. In this context, the aim of this project is to develop a repeatable protocole to recover and quantify plastic macro (> 5 mm in diametrer) and micro (< 5 mm in diameter) particles in biological samples.
Given the ecological significance of ingestion as a primary exposure pathway for plastics, I will use the ingestion pathway of the green turtle, Chelonia mydas, as a case study. Thus, I will sample green turtle digestive tract tissues and contents, and seagrass they feed on (only one species). I already have turtles waiting for me : 9 stranded turtles, which have been frozen until necropsy in Airlie Beach (it’s really close to the Whitsundays), such an amazing place ! I won the lottery !
To avoid samples contamination, we will not use plastic containers/jars/cutting board/clothes/etc. and they are not so easy to find ! It really makes you realise that everything is or contains plastics. Even aluminium foil ! We are really brainstorming about what we can use for our manipulations.
In the ocean, plastics are broken in smaller and smaller particles under the influence of physico/chemical paramaters such as the hydrodynamism and UV. They are persistent components and can be ingested by organisms, from whales to copepods and even by scleractinians polyps. Thereby, plastics integrate food webs and can affect the digestion of organisms, and their fitness. This is besides fishing and ghost nets, plastics bags, etc., with which animals can get tangled and/or smothered
Actually, there are 5 ways for plastics to be ingested by marine species :
So, if you are wondering how you can reduce your utilisation of plastics through simple acts, here are nice ideas from amazing people I live with :
Even if these items are in plastics, it makes a big difference to use them for months/years instead of days. You can also find these items made in coton, glass or wood, which is even better.
It is up to you now !