Interview with a Marine Biologist

A Review of Microplastics and Pollution

By Shelby Wells

This week, we had the opportunity to interview Dorothy Horn, a Marine Biologist pursuing her Ph.D. She offered some wonderful insights into the current rates of pollution and the effects of COVID-19 on overall waste.

Currently researching microplastics in aquatic environments, Horn and her fellow scientists are uncovering exciting data that will inform future policies and exploration regarding plastic pollution in marine systems.

Their research is focused on the effects of microplastics on the Dungeness Crab species. Tiny particles of plastic, “smaller than your fingernail,” says Horn, are working their way into the ocean as the waves erode larger plastic waste. These particles are consumed and even “breathed” in by these crabs, getting stuck in their gills, stomachs, and other parts of their bodies. The goal of their research is to “educate people more about the issue and make sure the right information is out there,” so that people dependent on this crab species for an income or subsistence can still earn a livelihood.

The Dungeness Crab is a major resource of income for many families trying to make ends meet, and the industry contributes a substantial amount of money each year to the state’s economy. With this in mind, the goal of Horn’s research is to correctly inform future decisions without radically changing perceptions about crabbers or any other entity reliant on this species. Oftentimes, the media can distort research to back previous biases and ideologies, so presenting this information to the public with careful intent is important to her and her team.

A striking statistic mention in the video was “Every day a school bus full of plastic straws are dumped into the ocean.” In light of COVID-19, we have thrown away a lot more plastic trash than in the past.

While it is important to maintain health and safety, we should stay mindful of how much trash we accumulate and the methods by which we dispose of refuse. Simple practices such as utilizing reusable rags and an alcohol spray instead of sanitation wipes can limit disposable items. Additionally, sterilizing plastics or reusable items can aid in the reduction of waste. Try finding other methods to reuse items or convert items into fun crafts for the kids. Every little bit counts, and if we govern ourselves, we could put a dent in the plastic pandemic.

Dorothy Horn also shared information about her path, her career, and her inspirations for the next generation. To see the full video, check out our YouTube channel:

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