Aussie Nurdle Hunt 2023: Wrapped

Wednesday, 12 Apr, 2023

Thousands and thousands of poisonous plastic pellets are threatening marine life across Australia! 


In March, our Marine Debris teams and Sea Shepherd supporters became citizen scientists as a part of our annual Aussie Nurdle Hunt. Our teams collected and recorded over 35,000 in just 8 different locations around Australia. 

The Aussie Nurdle Hunt is Sea Shepherd’s annual citizen science engagement project that raises awareness about nurdle pollution and contributes evidence toward the global fight to stop the leakage of these toxic, pre-production pellets into the ocean. 

Nurdles found at Minim Cove, WA.

Throughout March our onshore volunteers hosted Nurdle Hunts and clean-ups in 6 states. Our enthusiastic supporters were encouraged to become 'scientists for a day' and hunt for nurdles at their local beach or waterway.

Our team collected and removed a staggering 35,256 nurdles from the local marine environment. We then uploaded all our findings to the Sea Shepherd Australia database as well as the global Great Nurdle Hunt database. This significant data strengthens the case for tightening the regulations around transportation of nurdles. 

Nurdles are small, light, mostly clear in colour and easily escape into the environment. An estimated 230,000 tonnes of these plastic pellets end up in the environment every year, even before they have been turned into something useful. More than 220 marine species have been shown to ingest plastic debris.

Pellets also have indirect effects on ecosystems. On the beach, microplastics can change the characteristics of sand, such as its temperature and permeability, which can affect animals like sea turtles that incubate their eggs on beaches.

Nurdle Hot Spots in Australia! 

Western Australia

The Fremantle Marine Debris crew hosted a nurdle hunt and clean-up at Minim Cove Park and removed over 25,000 from just a 10-square-metre area! 

“Minim Cove location was always known as a hot spot, but we didn’t expect to see such a density of nurdle pollution and microplastics. The amount we removed was shocking and devastating. We are only scratching the surface. There are possibly millions more. We reported the spill to the EPA and local council. Hopefully, this helps us get some action on this disaster.” – said K. Strittmatter 


The worst nurdle hotspot our Melbourne team discovered was Seaford Beach, where they removed 3,621 nurdles! 

Special shout out to Jaqui and Simon, who also hunted nurdles at Seaford beach over a number of days. They collected 5,206 nurdles and have shared data with us. 

The Mornington Peninsula crew sieved the sand at Aspendale Beach and collected another 806 of these toxic plastic pellets. 

New South Wales

The Marine Debris Sydney team together with enthusiastic community participants discovered 256 nurdles at Manly Cove Beach, on the doorstep of the Northern beaches.


The Tasmania team hosted a Nurdle Hunt and clean-up at Berriedale Bay. Luckily no nurdles were found at this location. 

Unfortunately, 81 nurdles were discovered by citizen scientist Lee-Anne close to the city of Hobart, at Little Howrah Beach. 


For the first time, the Brisbane crew recorded 6 nurdles at Lower Moore Park! 

South Australia

No nurdles were found on Henley Beach, Adelaide! 

Indian Ocean Territories (IOT) 

On Cocos Keeling Islands - a remote atoll in the Indian Ocean - 267 nurdles were recorded on its idyllic beaches, demonstrating that once in the environment, nurdles spread far and wide, impacting marine life worldwide. 

Another special mention to Luc, who recorded 410 nurdles from Fig da Foz Beach in Portugal. 

In addition to Aussie Nurdle Hunts, our teams have removed 14,069 pieces of marine debris weighing 339 kg! 


Thank you to everyone who participated in the Nurdle Hunt and beach clean-up events this year and who has submitted their findings. 


With 171 trillion pieces of plastic floating in our oceans, every piece removed brings immediate relief to marine life and helps us to #StemTheTide and highlight that we must #TurnOffThePlasticTap. 

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