Between November 2017 and July 2019, bimonthly samples from 7 stations throughout Tampa Bay were collected, quantified, and analyzed. The samples were collected from the surface using 20 liter buckets and filtered through 12µm and 20µm sieves and stained with a Nile Red solution. They were then filtered onto a black polycarbonate filter. We were able to easily identify microplastics larger than 100µm because they glowed when stained, however, microplastics smaller than 100µm were more difficult to identify due to their small size and less efficient staining.
Precautions were taken to prevent background contamination, however, blank replicates were collected regularly and the data was corrected for the minor contamination. The data was analyzed to identify temporal and spatial trends, as well as variability in the microplastic distribution.
Our research is the first of its kind in the area, and we continue to quantify microplastics in Tampa Bay.