Plastic Pollution in the Parker River National Wildlife Refuge

 A plastic "nip" and two small plastic fragments on the beach surrounded by tracks from the protected birds of the Parker River National Wildlife Refuge

A plastic "nip" and two small plastic fragments on the beach surrounded by tracks from the protected birds of the Parker River National Wildlife Refuge

 Beach debris that washed up in the protected nesting habitat for the Piping Plover on Plum Island

Beach debris that washed up in the protected nesting habitat for the Piping Plover on Plum Island

I was able to go on a trip up to the Parker River National Wildlife Refuge a few days ago and couldn't help but notice the plastic that had washed up onto the uninhabited shores there.  The Parker River National Wildlife Refuge on Plum Island, MA is composed of over 4700 acres of diverse habitats including sandy beach and dune, cranberry bog, maritime forest and shrub land, and freshwater marsh.  The refuge provides feeding, resting, and nesting habitat for migratory birds, many of which are endangered.  Although most of the beaches are off limits to beachgoers for the majority of the year, there was still a fair amount of plastic debris that has washed up onto the beaches from the ocean.  As most of the beach habitat in the park is nesting grounds for birds like the Piping Plover (an endangered species), I was disappointed to see it so littered with plastic marine debris.  This goes to show that the microplastic and marine debris problem doesn't just affect our oceans, but also the fragile terrestrial species that use beach habitat for nesting and feeding.  Even in a 4,700 acre protected refuge, you can't get away from marine debris on the beach...