Winter Break = lots of lab time!

Over the break I am finally able to catch up on all my dissections and sand processing.  Currently I have gathered over 200 sand crabs from up and down the coast of California to test for microplastics as well as sand samples from each location.  This will be a busy winter break!IMG_8487

What a great event!


PatrickMicheala and I arrived just as the sun was coming up to a great event at Ledbetter Beach in Santa Barbara!  This ‘keiki’ surf contest was hosted by Surf Happens which is a local surf school in Santa Barbara dedicated to teaching kids the art of surfing with proper education, etiquette and history of the sport.  The group promotes the high five initiative where everyone that hits the beach picks up 5 pieces of trash before they enjoy the waves.

This weekend was special because Pro Surfer Lakey Peterson was there to host the event and had a special clinic session for Teddy Bear families with kids that have cancer.  It was pretty cool to watch parents and kids out there having fun in the waves with a pro surfer!


Sand, Sand and more Sand!

This week I am excited that I have collected over 50 sand samples from all over the United States with help of friends and colleagues! I have also been able to borrow some historical samples from different places in the world! I will be testing all of the samples for the presence of microplastics as well as collecting what I find in each sample to run some new testing procedures to determine what they are and hopefully give us an idea what the main pollution source is in each area .



This weekend I was able to present my research project in the poster session at WSN in Sacramento, CA.  I had an awesome time meeting other students and professors from all over the place.

Here are a few pictures from the weekend.L1030298L1030304 L1030302 L1030305

Santa Rosa Island Research Station

This last weekend I was able to go out to the Island with Dr. Clare Steele and the Conservation Biology class.  I was able to enjoy the plethora of knowledge and experience it has to offer.  Santa Rosa Island is beautiful but in a period of restoration and recovery from its long history of human inhabitants.

I was able to help Michaela Miller with her capstone of Marine Debris collection along some of the remote beaches of the island including Arlington Canyon, Sandy Point, Cluster Point and Skunk point.  I also visited Bechers Bay and Water canyon to collect sand samples and test for micro plastics. All in all it was an excellent weekend!  Overall every sand sample I collected had microfibers and microplastics in it.

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SandCrabs and Micro Plastics/Fibers

As of Friday I was able to get 31 sand crabs dissected and 20 of them had ambient fibers in their stomach content or surrounding tissues.  That is approximately 64% of the sandcrabs so far have ambient fibers.  Since the data from the summer research institute shows that a high percentage of the beaches sampled also had fibers and micro plastics, I hypothesize I will continue to find microfibers in the sand crabs.

Over the weekend I was able to travel north to San Louis Obispo county and collect 35 more crabs from 3 different sites as well as sand samples to process.  Hopefully my contacts in Orange county, Santa Cruz and San Francisco will come thru with more sand crabs and sand samples as well.  I am hoping to get a wide geographic range in sampling to see what I find.

Once the collected crabs are dissected I plan to test a hypothesis that the sand crabs will ingest micro plastics by sequestering them into small jars with sea water and exposing them to plastic microbeads I have filtered out of a face soap product that will be on the “to be banned” list if legislation is passed.

Microplastic updates