Historical and Temporal Changes in Marine Debris on Santa Rosa Island
Capstone Project Summary
The persistence of plastics in marine environments, as well as the hazards marine debris poses to wildlife has become a major issue. I plan on monitoring marine debris on four Santa Rosa Island beaches, looking at what types of debris (i.e. micro-plastics, foam fragments, derelict fishing gear) are most prevalent. I will do this by performing standing stock surveys from the NOAA Marine Debris Protocol for each beach to establish a baseline of marine debris abundance, composition, and relative accumulation rates on Santa Rosa Island. Using this data I plan to identify if there are any temporal and/or seasonal changes to the presence of marine debris, as well what types and sources of debris are most common.
I will also look at the historical changes of marine debris on Santa Rosa Island based on a NMFS data set of surveys conducted from 1989-1994 by the National Park Service. The NPS performed these surveys on Arlington Canyon Beach, Sandy Point, Cluster Point, and Skunk Point seasonally for 5 years to establish a baseline of marine debris presence within the Channel Islands National Park. My plan is to return to these beaches and perform the same seasonal surveys to see what has changed in terms of debris abundance and accumulation ~20 years later. This will allow me to see if there is any temporal variation in marine debris, and it will also provide a current dataset for the Channel Islands National Park to use. I will also be looking at seasonal variation in debris by conducting these surveys before and after significant El Nino storm events happening this year. I can compare this data to the 1991-1992 NMFS data, which was also a significant El Nino year.
Replicating surveys done for the NPS/NMFS data set, organizing the historical NPS/NMFS data, as well as performing the NOAA standing stock surveys on the same beaches will give me an adequate dataset that will allow me to ask a number of questions about the marine debris presence on Santa Rosa Island.