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Water-Related News

Microplastics omnipresent in Tampa Bay

At less than an eighth of an inch, microplastics are practically invisible to the naked eye – but have been found in every water sample analyzed for microplastics in Tampa Bay over the last two years.

Bi-monthly samples of water at seven locations have been taken over the past two years. All photos courtesy Eckerd College.

The most recent data (not yet published in a peer-reviewed journal) also shows that nine of 10 manatees who died in Tampa Bay had either plastic or microplastics in their digestive tracts. Additionally one of every 82 copepods – tiny filter-feeding crustaceans near the bottom of the food web – had microplastics in their guts.

The study by Eckerd College professors and students is the first step in what bay managers hope will become a long-term monitoring process. The goal is to document when and where microplastics are found by collecting samples from various sites.