Micro-plastics are discharged into watersheds through wastewater treatment plant effluent and onward into waterbodies. Studies have shown that micro-plastics are bioaccumulating within aquatic organisms found in both fresh and salt water. Students at SUNY Fredonia are jointly working with SUNY Plattsburgh to identify and quantify micro-plastics from within fish digestive tracks from the Great Lakes and Lake Champlain. Dr. Sherri Mason's team at Fredonia has identified dark fibers as the most abundant micro-plastic in fish digestive tracts (> 85%), with yellow perch (Perca flavescens), being the most frequent species containng plastics (94.4%). SUNY Plattsburgh sampled eight yellow perch caught ice fishing in Monty's Bay, Lake Champlain. Digestive tract samples were digested in a wet-peroxide solution then left to dry for further examination. All fish sampled contained microfibers within their digestive tracts, 75% of individuals contained fibers present while 25% had foam-like plastics. These samples will be further examined by Dr. Sherri Mason's lab for further confirmation on type, color, and polymer. In the future SUNY Plattsburgh plans to examine micro-plastics in zooplankton and cormorants to represent a trophic dynamic bioaccumulation of micro-plastics in Lake Champlain.
Student poster, Center for Earth and Environmental Science, SUNY Plattsburgh