Date of Award

12-17-2019

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Department

Geosciences

First Advisor

Dr. Christy Visaggi

Second Advisor

Dr. Dajun Dai

Third Advisor

Dr. Brian Meyer

Fourth Advisor

Dr. David Steen

Abstract

Since the 1950s, the mass production and use of plastics worldwide has increased exponentially. Their one-time use and durability has made them both accessible and affordable to global human populations. These more immediate benefits have come at a cost to the world’s oceans. Plastics have since impaired, injured, and even killed countless marine species, such as sea turtles, often becoming entangled in or ingesting these plastics. New research has demonstrated the ability of microplastics to affect sea turtles before they hatch by altering the microenvironment within the nest. This research examines how both macro- and microplastics could contribute to the depreciation of the sand quality of a significant loggerhead (Caretta caretta) nesting beach on Jekyll Island, Georgia. The study utilizes historic data to identify existing long-term temporal and spatial trends in nesting activities, alongside census data on surface macroplastics, and microplastics extracted from the sediments of the sea turtle nest.

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