Presentation Title

Microplastics in Your Mussels? Isolation of Microplastic Particles from the Mussel Mytilus trossulus from the Eastern, Southern, and Western Coasts of Vancouver Island

Format of Presentation

Poster to be presented the Friday of the conference

Abstract

Small (<5mm) pieces of plastic, known as microplastics, were discovered in the Earth’s oceans and water systems about 15 years ago. These microplastics are in the same size class as many food particles fed on by aquatic animals. There is concern that filter-feeding organisms have the potential to consume microplastics in the place of food particles, and previous lab studies have shown that filter-feeding animals do ingest microplastics when they are present in high concentrations in the environment. The ingestion of microplastics has been shown to affect an individual’s health and overall fitness. The goal of this study was to quantify the average number of microplastics in the filter feeder Mytilus trossulus from the Eastern, Southern, and Western coasts of Vancouver Island. We wanted to find if different quantities and qualities of microplastics were present in mussels with relation to community population and coastal orientation. To do this, mussels were taken from twelve sites along the Eastern, Southern, and Western coasts of Vancouver Island. Ten mussels with shell lengths between 3-4cm were taken from each site, and each mussel’s soft tissue was digested in Nitric Acid (HNO3) using refined methodologies. Tissue digestion was done to remove organic tissue without altering any non-tissue materials (plastic). Tissue solutions were filtered through a 0.47micron filter, and the debris remaining on the filter was examined under a dissecting scope. Particles found were confirmed and recorded by type (fragment or fiber) and color (white, black, brown, red, yellow, or blue).

Department

Biological Sciences

Faculty Advisor

Louis Gosselin

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Microplastics in Your Mussels? Isolation of Microplastic Particles from the Mussel Mytilus trossulus from the Eastern, Southern, and Western Coasts of Vancouver Island

Small (<5mm) pieces of plastic, known as microplastics, were discovered in the Earth’s oceans and water systems about 15 years ago. These microplastics are in the same size class as many food particles fed on by aquatic animals. There is concern that filter-feeding organisms have the potential to consume microplastics in the place of food particles, and previous lab studies have shown that filter-feeding animals do ingest microplastics when they are present in high concentrations in the environment. The ingestion of microplastics has been shown to affect an individual’s health and overall fitness. The goal of this study was to quantify the average number of microplastics in the filter feeder Mytilus trossulus from the Eastern, Southern, and Western coasts of Vancouver Island. We wanted to find if different quantities and qualities of microplastics were present in mussels with relation to community population and coastal orientation. To do this, mussels were taken from twelve sites along the Eastern, Southern, and Western coasts of Vancouver Island. Ten mussels with shell lengths between 3-4cm were taken from each site, and each mussel’s soft tissue was digested in Nitric Acid (HNO3) using refined methodologies. Tissue digestion was done to remove organic tissue without altering any non-tissue materials (plastic). Tissue solutions were filtered through a 0.47micron filter, and the debris remaining on the filter was examined under a dissecting scope. Particles found were confirmed and recorded by type (fragment or fiber) and color (white, black, brown, red, yellow, or blue).