Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science in Coastal Marine and Wetland Studies


Coastal and Marine Systems Science


College of Science

First Advisor

Daniel C. Abel

Second Advisor

George E. Boneillo

Third Advisor

Kevin S. Godwin


The digestive tracts and livers of adult male Atlantic sharpnose sharks (N=16), Rhizoprionodon terraenovae, from Winyah Bay, South Carolina were examined for ingested microplastics. R. terraenovae is a small, locally abundant, coastal mesopredatory elasmobranch belonging to the family Carcharhinidae. Microfibers comprised the largest categories of plastics (94% of the total), and were found in 100% of sharks examined. The number of micro- and other plastics ranged from 34 to 75 per individual and totaled 927. The majority of plastics (40%) were blue in coloration, and 55% were <1 mm in length. Microplastics were observed on both the interior and exterior of the organs examined, and three microfibers were embedded within the stomach lining, an observation not previously reported in marine vertebrates and one which represents a potential pathway for the translocation of ingested microplastics.