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  • Izzy Gaw to Speak as Featured Guest for Nantucket Maria Mitchell Association’s Winter Science Speaker Series

    Izzy Gaw to Speak as Featured Guest for Nantucket
    Maria Mitchell Association’s Winter Science Speaker

    Nantucket, MA – On March 10th at 7pm, the Nantucket Maria Mitchell Association (MMA) is hosting a live lecture entitled, “The Debris Diet: How Microplastics are Infiltrating the Marine Food Chain” presented by former MMA Aquarium intern and co-manager, Izzy Gaw. This talk is part of our FREE Winter Science Speaker Series and will be held via Zoom. One of the most pervasive anthropogenic stressors facing marine life today is plastic debris. In 2010, an estimated 4.8 to 12.7 million metric tons of plastic waste entered the ocean, and these input estimates are slated to increase by an order of magnitude by 2025.

    One of the most challenging aspects of marine debris management is that over time plastics break down into microplastics (<5 mm in size) for which the total degradation time is unknown. Not only are these ubiquitous microplastics contaminating marine fauna and their habitats, but they also have the potential to absorb pollutants thus posing a threat to ocean food webs. After fauna ingest these pollutant-absorbent microplastics, the toxins can bioaccumulate and biomagnify, which can negatively affect fish behavior and physiology. While the effects of pollutant-absorbent microplastics are relatively well studied, the baseline physiological effects of uncontaminated plastics are not well understood. This talk will explore how fauna ingest these microplastics and what happens to the microplastics inside their bodies.

    Gaw began her career in marine biology at the Maria Mitchell Aquarium. She stayed with MMA for a total of three seasons, where she rose from volunteer to intern and then to co-manager with Jack Dubinsky. Gaw holds a Biology degree from Skidmore College, and is currently a master’s student in Marine Biology at the University of Hawai’i at Manoa where she is studying the effects of microplastic ingestion on cryptobenthic Gobiid fish.

    To register for this event, please follow the link below:

    For the full Winter Science Speaker Series schedule, please visit our website here:

    This series is organized by the Maria Mitchell Association, a private non-profit organization. Founded in 1902, the MMA works to preserve the legacy of Nantucket native astronomer, naturalist, librarian, and educator, Maria Mitchell. The Maria Mitchell Association operates two observatories, a natural science museum, an aquarium, a research center, and preserves the historic birthplace of Maria Mitchell. A wide variety of science and history-related programming is offered throughout the year for people of all ages.


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