Events and Announcements
Marine debris is defined as any persistent solid material that is manufactured or processed and directly or indirectly, intentionally or unintentionally, disposed of or abandoned into the marine environment or the Great Lakes. Looking for what’s new with marine debris in the Great Lakes region? Find events and other important announcements below.
Break out your art supplies because we need YOUR help to raise awareness about marine debris! This year’s NOAA Marine Debris Program Art Contest is officially open, and students in grades K-8 from all U.S. states and territories can submit their artwork now through November 30th that answers the questions:
Title: Improving Microplastics Research
Speaker: Judith S. Weis, Professor Emerita, Rutgers University. Presenting remotely.
When: Tuesday, October 29, 2019, 12-1pm EDT
Where: Via webinar (see below)
Sponsor: NOAA's National Ocean Service Science Seminar; coordinator is Tracy.Gill@noaa.gov
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Abstract: There has been a virtual explosion of research on microplastics (MPs). Every week new articles are published, but not all are original or important. Dozens of papers report the number of microplastic particles found in some water body, but they cannot be compared because there are no standardized methods for collection or analysis. However, it has become clear that collecting with nets misses most of the MPs, since microfibers, which are by far the most abundant type when whole water samples are analyzed, pass through nets. These microfibers are derived primarily from synthetic clothing via wastewater from washing machines. Counting under a microscope is not as accurate as using sophisticated technology such as Raman or FTIR which can identify different plastic polymers. Another common study documents that some species consumes MPs. It seems that every animal studied eats them; it would be of greater interest to learn why they do or find one that does not ingest them. Although animals consume them, few studies have examined how soon and how many are egested. Most may pass through the gut without causing any noticeable effects; this needs to be studied. MPs are considered vectors for transferring contaminants to animals and up the food chain, but few studies demonstrate this with realistic scenarios such as providing the animals some “real” food and time to egest. Effects attributed to MPs may be symptoms of inadequate nutrition or a clogged digestive tract. It is also important to learn how much of the adsorbed contaminants the gut can desorb during the time that MPss are passing through. Future feeding studies should not use spherical MPs which are rare in aquatic environments but should use primarily microfibers which are the predominant shape found, provide real food, and allow time for egestion. Other research needs include examining respiration as a mode of intake in aquatic as well as in terrestrial biota, and developing ways to modify the manufacture of textiles to shed fewer microfibers.
About the Speaker: Dr.Judith S. Weis is a Professor Emerita of Biological Sciences at Rutgers University, Newark. Her research is on estuarine ecology and ecotoxicology, and she has published over 200 refereed scientific papers, as well as books for the general public on salt marshes, fish, crabs, and marine pollution, a technical book on marine pollution and one on biological invasions and animal behavior. She is interested in stresses in estuaries and their effects on organisms, populations and communities. She is on the editorial board for BioScience, is a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) and was a Fulbright Fellow in Indonesia. She has been on advisory committees for EPA, NOAA and NAS and chairs the Science Advisory Board of NJ DEP. She chaired the Biology Section of AAAS, and was president of the American Institute of Biological Sciences (AIBS) in 2001. She received the Merit Award from the Society of Wetland Scientists in 2016.
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