The Threat Close to Home: Microplastics in Hilo Bay - Event Details

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The Threat Close to Home: Microplastics in Hilo Bay

This virtual presentation is one many events to celebrate Lā Honua / Earth Day throughout the month of April. Please see the schedule list of virtual keynotes, presentations, and panels, and our four in-person huakaʻi (environmental and cultural stewardship excursions and volunteer work days) to locations around Hawaiʻi Island at the UH Hilo Earth Day website (

At least 8 million tons of plastic waste enters the ocean each year and over 90% of plastic waste in the ocean is micro-plastics. Previous lab and field studies have documented the ingestion of micro-plastics by zooplankton. Micro-plastics have the potential to enter the marine food web via zooplankton which are important prey items to many commercially valued species. The occurrence of micro-plastics in the water column and in zooplankton in Hilo Bay has never been assessed. Plankton tows were taken inside and outside Hilo Bay. The micro-plastic particles found in the seawater samples were counted, measured, and classified into fibers, fragments, and beads. Zooplankton in the samples were sorted, identified, and dissolved in nitric acid. Plastic particles ingested by the zooplankton that remained were counted and classified. Results suggest micro-plastic pollution and its trophic transfer are real threats in Hilo Bay.

Presenter: Emma Gordon is an undergraduate Marine Science student at UH Hilo and this project was part of the MARE 471 Senior Thesis course this semester.

Please make sure to register early for this presentation and you will receive the zoom link within a day.

Special Restrictions: This presentation is open to faculty, staff and students from UH Hilo and Hawaii CC.

For more information, contact: (808) 932-7258

Tags: online only plastic pollution marine ocean hilo bay plastics zooplankton

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