Kenneth Myers Bayside Park – Plastic Fragments

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThere is a strip of plastic fragments along the high tide line of Kenneth Myers Bayside Park in Coconut Grove. I went down this morning and within half an hour had filled my container, collecting 234 items in just a few square feet.

It is typical that larger pieces of trash and litter are preferentially removed during cleanups. They are more satisfying to pick up and make a more obvious visual difference. But these small fragments represent a huge threat, being the perfect size for birds, fish and other animals to eat. Most of the what I collected this morning were hard plastics,
with sharp edges. There were a lot of bottle caps (68) and cigar tips (14). The fragments were mostly white/clear, blue, orange and red. However this likely is biased by how I see and pick up pieces, and probably doesn’t represent the actual percentage of colors.
Color is OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAimportant. A number of studies on sea birds have found that birds preferentially ingest plastic that is a similar color to their main prey. Red, pink and orange pieces are easily mistaken for krill or other small crustaceans.  White pieces might look like jellies.

It might be interesting to take a quadrat next time, to see if I can get some sense of density, and a rough estimate of fragments in the entire area, and a less biased assessment of color ratios.



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