2011 Winning Essays
Twelve winning essays from the 2012 contest year of the Young Naturalist Awards by students from grade 7 - 12. Winning essays ranged from an investigation the effects of acidification in the Chesapeake Bay on grass shrimp, to the feeding preferences of painted lady butterflies, to a study of the effects of open ocean plastic pollution on a marine insect.
Welcome to our plastic world. From cups to bags, bottles to CDs, clips to pipes, a nifty collection of polymers is here and thriving. Annually, the world utilizes 245 million tons of plastic, most of which is polypropylene (Andrady and Neal 2009). Plastic has many advantages: it is lightweight, has a high strength to weight ratio and is easy to mass produce (Andrady and Neal 2009, Thompson et al. 2009). But, unfortunately, it is also persistent, long-lasting and slow to degrade, especially in the marine environment.
Puerto Rico is home to three bioluminescent bays, protected inlets that hold millions of marine bioluminescent dinoflagellates. These bays are huge tourist attractions, and swimming in them, when permitted, is popular. Often the visitors have sprayed themselves with insect repellants containing the active ingredient DEET. The purpose of this paper is to examine the effects of DEET on the ability of the dinoflagellates to emit light.