Today I had a great group of undergraduates in the Microplastics lab learning how to process sand. They all helped me organize and catalog the 100 plus samples we have gathered from all over the globe! A few of them are thinking about continuing the project into their senior capstone and investigating the abundance of plastics across our global sandy beach ecosystem.
Sunday March 20th my brother and I took all of my nieces and nephews out to Ventura Point to work on the Ventura Surfrider Dune restoration project.
The learned about Ecosystem based management of the point and the native and non-native plants in the dunes. At Ventura point we have seen a large difference in the loss of beach between the area where the dune project is in effect and about 200 feet south along the boardwalk.
Where the restoration project is located much of the beach has remained intact and south of there (seen in the photo to the right) most of the sand is gone and damage has been done to the walkways during the large storms this winter.
This weekend I had a presentation table at the Ventura Audubon event for “Beaches are Habitat Too” at the Channel Islands Boating Center. Dr. Clare Steele presented on Sandy Beaches as habitats for many species, including Sand crabs and other invertebrates. This community based education seminar was set up by Ventura Audubon to educate the local homeowners about the threatened shore bird populations as well as other threats to the sandy beach ecosystem.
I had a table to share some of the Marine debris collected by my colleague Michaela Miller from the Santa Clara river mouth, along with our Pollutants Poster and some micro trash samples. I brought the small digital scope with me to show people just how small these particles are. I was able to explain what micro plastics are, where they tend to come from and why its important we pay attention to them as pollutants. Many of the folks I spoke with did not know what microbeads were or that there had been a ban and were very thankful for the information to make product changes at home.
This week I was able to process a few more sample populations of Sand crabs and have found evidence of microparticle ingestion in every one. Sadly the ubiquity of plastic pollution in the sandy beach ecosystem continues to be the case. I have 24 sand crab sample populations processed and have approximately 20 more to finish. I will be attending the CSU Chancellors conference this Tuesday March 8th with my colleague, Tevin Schmitt. We will be discussing our individual research projects on how petroleum bed pollution takes its toll on the sandy beach ecosystem.