For my 9th grade internship I traveled to Dauphin Island Sea Lab in Alabama to work with Dr. Ruth Carmichael in Marine Biology to investigate micro plastics in oysters.
Microplastics are an imminent threat in nature, and in my experiment I looked for the existence of microplastics in the digestive system of oysters. I started by going out into the gulf and collecting oysters for my experiment.To retrieve the oysters, we took a team of three people out into the gulf in waders (full body rubber suit) and retrieved oysters from the wild in the Gulf. The Sea Lab has its own beach access that we utilized to go to a "wild" area not being utilized by swimmers. We went out into about chest high water and I was actually the first one in the group to find a live oyster.
Finding the evidence of Microplastics in the feces of the oysters means that the natural filtration system of the oyster are not weeding out all plastics from the diet of the oysters. A previous study on the digestive system of oysters at the Dauphin Island Lab showed the presence of Microplastics in pseudo-feces (the "throw-up" type of half digested material from the oysters' stomachs) in all 10 test subjects. My study was unique in that it brought brand new data for the Lab, showing the presence of Microplastics in the pseudo-feces of all 10 test subject oysters and Microplastics in the feces of two of the oysters. This shows that 100% of the oysters are affected by the plastic waste in the ocean and 20% of the oysters are not able to filter the plastics out before digesting their food.
The results of my study will be published in this year’s Scientific Journal.