As part of the UF/Florida Sea Grant Plastic Aware project, I have been taking water samples at some of the beach cleanups I’ve attended. A few weeks ago I finally got around to processing and analyzing them.
I wasn’t surprised to find microplastics in the water. According to the project website, 87% of samples have at least one piece of microplastic in them. With an average of 7.7 particles/ liter across the state.
The main issue with microplastics is that we assume that they are everywhere, but we don’t really know if there are any patterns in distribution, because sampling and processing is time consuming and challenging. We also don’t really know what kind of negative effects the plastic is having on the environment, though the literature is starting to accumulate.
*Fibers are the most common form of micro plastics found in Florida waters (83%), and blue and red fibers seem to be the most common, though there is likely bias in this assessment, because they are the easiest to identify as being synthetic in nature and not some sort of algae or cyanobacteria when observing through a microscope.