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Over 9,200 nurdles (tiny plastic pellets) collected during the Aussie Nurdle Hunt 2022

Friday, 08 Apr, 2022

In March, Sea Shepherd Australia hosted our annual Aussie Nurdle Hunt, where over 9,200 nurdles were collected and recorded in 19 locations around the country. 
 

The Aussie Nurdle Hunt is Sea Shepherd's annual citizen science engagement project that aims to raise awareness about nurdle pollution and build evidence of the extent of this problem around our coastlines. 

Throughout the month, Sea Shepherd volunteers hosted community clean-ups in four states and enthusiastic supporters were encouraged to become a 'scientist for a day' and hunt for nurdles at their local beach or waterway.

A staggering 9,295 nurdles were collected across 19 locations with all results logged and added to a global database!

 

Nurdles are small plastic pellets about the size of a lentil (3-5mm in diameter). These pellets are the building blocks of the plastics industry and billions of them are used each year to make all kinds of plastic products, from bottles to car parts. 

Nurdles end up entering the water during transportation to production sites around the world and this is when spills occur. At plastic manufacturing plants, these tiny pieces of plastic are washed down drains where proper filters are not in place. Once nurdles enter the sea, they absorb a host of toxic chemicals, and this makes them even more dangerous. As they closely resemble fish eggs, they are easily mistaken for food by marine animals such as birds, fish, or crustaceans. More than 220 marine species have been recorded to ingest plastic debris. To protect our marine life, we need better and more secure transportation of these toxic pellets. 

 

Victoria

One of the worst nurdle hotspots our team discovered was Aspendale Beach in Victoria where over 4,500 nurdles were collected in a single hunt. Our VIC team coordinator, Narelle, is an enthusiastic nurdle hunter. It is of great concern to her that these tiny plastic pieces are so prevalent in the marine environment. Each time she walks down the beach, Narelle spots nurdles and picks them up along with other pieces of plastic to prevent them from entering the ocean.

"Once you see them you cannot un-see them. Nurdle hunting is time with friends, having a chat, while picking up toxic little bits of plastic" - Narelle Huxley, Victoria Marine Debris Campaign Coordinator. 

Western Australia

Two main hotspots in Western Australia were the Swan River and at Jenalup Beach where 15 passionate volunteers collected 2603 nurdles in less than 3 hours. Along the remote coastline of the state's south-west far from any major port, nurdles were recorded at nearly every beach surrounding Bremer Bay. 

Additionally, Albany is a well-known nurdle hotspot, with one Sea Shepherd supporter saying she finds nurdles every time she goes to do a beach clean-up. This March, she spent an hour hunting for nurdles on a small beach spot at Goode Beach and recorded 117 nurdles. 

South Australia

On the beautiful Semaphore Beach in South Australia, the Adelaide team recorded 966 nurdles.

Queensland

After the devastating floods, we sadly recorded nurdles for the first time at Mulgumpin/Moreton Island where our team are running emergency clean-ups to help protect marine life. Our Brisbane and the Gold Coast teams didn't find any nurdles at their community nurdle hunts!

New South Wales

During the 'Scientist for a day' campaign, a supporter drew a 35cm square at Frenchman's Bay La Perouse, NSW, and recorded a shocking 162 nurdles! 

Indian Ocean Territories

Even on the Cocos Keeling Islands - a remote atoll in the Indian Ocean - nurdles were recorded on one of the idyllic beaches.

 

Take a look at images from our Aussie Nurdle Hunt events

Nurdles collected at Mulgumpin/Moreton Island.
Microplastics collected during a clean-up.
Nurdles discovered in the sand during a clean-up.
Queensland volunteers ready to clean the beach.
Volunteers hunting for nurdles.
Nurdles are usually white or clear in colour, but you can find some that are black, green or blue as well.
Western Australia volunteers collecting nurdles.
Volunteers turn out for a nurdle hunt.

Thank you to everyone who participated in the 2022 Aussie Nurdle Hunt! All the submitted locations are uploaded to our database as well as to the Global Nurdle Hunt's database of global nurdle pollution. This information reveals the scope of the problem, helping to visualise the significant magnitude of pollution of plastic raw materials – even before becoming usable plastic products. 

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