Microplastics in sandy environments in the Florida Keys and the panhandle of Florida, and the ingestion by sea cucumbers (Echinodermata: Holothuroidea) and sand dollars (Echinodermata: Echinoidea)

Date of publication 17 August 2020

Authors Plee, Tara A.; Pomory, Christopher M.

Sources Marine pollution bulletin : 158

DOILink https://doi.org/10.1016/j.marpolbul.2020.111437

Abstract

Microplastic pollution is an increasing problem in the marine environment. This study had three objectives: 1) determine if seagrass beds and adjacent sand flats in the Florida Keys differed in microplastics concentration, 2) determine if sea cucumbers from the Florida Keys and sand dollars from the panhandle of Florida contain microplastics, and 3) conduct a laboratory experiment on the sand dollar Mellita tennis to determine if it will ingest plastic microbeads contained in sediment. Both seagrass beds and sand flats in the Florida Keys contained microplastics. Sediment near Pensacola Beach and in St. Joseph Bay contained microplastics. Sea cucumbers from the Florida Keys and sand dollars from the panhandle of Florida contained microplastics in their gut contents. In the laboratory, M. tennis ingested microbeads in slightly lower proportions compared to surrounding sediment. Both sea cucumbers and sand dollars may make useful animals for monitoring sandy environments for microplastics pollution.

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