Date of Award
Bachelor of Science (BS)
College of Science
Microplastics are an increasing threat to marine environments and the organisms that inhabit them. Since plastic pollution in the ocean is prominent throughout the globe, microplastic is washing ashore, affecting important sea turtle nesting sites. This study quantified microfibers in the sand of various sea turtle nesting sites around the world. Sand samples were collected in Myrtle Beach (South Carolina), Destin (Florida) and the Pacuare Reserve (Costa Rica). The microfibers were retrieved using a super saline solution and then filtered under a hood. Filters were then counted using microscopy. Microfibers were found at every sampling site, with the lowest surface concentration in Myrtle Beach (52 pieces/50g sand), and the highest surface concentration in Destin (869 pieces/50g of sand). The average amount of microfibers per 50 grams of sand was 80 +/- 39 in Myrtle Beach, 709 +/- 183 in Destin, and 142 +/- 69 in Costa Rica. Because plastic has a higher specific heat then sand, these findings demonstrate the potential threat to incubation temperatures and the sex ratio of sea turtle hatchlings.
LeRoy, Kaylin and Boneillo, George, "Microfiber concentrations in sand from nesting sea turtle beaches in Costa Rica, South Carolina, and Florida." (2019). Honors Theses. 358.