Sea Turtle Grants Program Awards Funding to FAU Researchers

Tuesday, May 14, 2024
Sea Turtle Grants Program Awards Funding to FAU Researchers

Heather Seaman

Sadly, scientists already know how detrimental ocean plastics are for sea turtles and other marine life. Ingesting plastics can kill sea turtles directly, by perforating the gut or jamming it up so that the animals starve. But the chemicals that leach out of plastics can also have sublethal effects that may have a long-term impact on turtle populations —and possibly humans.

Thanks to a $10,409 grant from the Sea Turtle Grants Program (STGP), Heather Seaman, a Schmidt College of Science Biological Sciences Ph.D. student, is working to determine if the chemicals associated with plastics might interfere with sea turtle reproduction by acting as hormones. The project, “Potential role as endocrine disruptors of chemicals associated with plastic,” aims to study if some of the chemicals may act like hormones, which could bind to hormone receptors in a sea turtle’s body and prevent real hormones from functioning.

Heather Seaman

“This grant plays a crucial role in supporting my research in sea turtle conservation across Florida’s beaches,” stated Seaman.“This study will provide better insight into whether plastic additives have the potential to impact the reproductive system in sea turtles, which can then impact the population in the future.”

By extension, the project may also reflect a potential hazard to human health. People who consume high amounts of seafood may inadvertently ingest microplastics from contaminated food and experience adverse health effects.

Support from the STGP grant will provide a critical boost for the project. It will allow Seaman to purchase supplies and conduct much-needed assays for her research.

Heather Seaman

“Heather is a promising young scientist who is interested in many aspects of plastic pollution in marine animals,” expressed Sarah Milton, Ph.D., principal investigator, chair and professor, Department of Biological Sciences, Charles E. Schmidt College of Science. “What we learn will go a long way to aid future conservation efforts.”

This project was funded in part by a grant awarded from the Sea Turtle Grants Program. The Sea Turtle Grants Program is funded from proceeds from the sale of the Florida Sea Turtle License Plate. Learn more at

Tags: science

Additional Information
The Charles E. Schmidt College of Science offers unparalleled experiential learning opportunities to prepare the next generation of scientists and problem solvers.
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Florida Atlantic University
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