Nichole Rodi

Document Type

Internship Report

Publication Date

Fall 2014


In recent decades, marine debris has been studied across the globe due to its hazardous effects. Plastic debris is especially hazardous to marine animals and has consistently impacted the sea turtle populations of the Atlantic. This study aims to track marine debris accumulation that could affect the nesting and hatching process of sea turtles nesting at Biscayne National Park. The beaches of Elliott Key have a relatively small nesting population, majority of which are Loggerhead Sea Turtles (Carretta carretta), compared to other popular Florida Beaches. Due to lack of use, the uninhabited beaches are an ideal location to collect and study the effects of debris and how the large amounts of trash accumulating on sea turtle nesting beaches can diminish nesting habitat and alter sand characteristics. There will be approximately 14,000 pounds of trash that wash up along the ocean side beaches of Elliott Key in Biscayne National Park a year. Female nesting attempts were not deterred by high debris accumulation rates, therefore sea turtle hatchlings are at great risk of fatal entrapment, entanglement, and predation. A small marine debris management plan is presented, which has the goals of reducing marine debris on critical nesting beaches, and utilizing volunteers to increase debris collection effort.


Department: MAF

MPS Track: CZM

Location: Biscayne National Park (Homestead, FL )

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