This month on Stewardship Monday we are celebrating Coastal Cleanup! This month people around the world will join together in cleaning up the coasts and the ocean through this amazing event.
This summer our campers already got a head start on cleaning up (and taking data) to support this international effort. Our Ocean Explorers were on “Nurdle Patrol” with the Gulf of the Farallones, National Marine Sanctuary Foundation. Of all of the trash collected by MSI campers, 85% was “small trash”—pieces of debris smaller than a bottle cap. Most of that small trash was plastic, including 1295 nurdles.
Nurdles are pre-production resin pellets that look like opaque or translucent beads. These pellets become all sorts of plastic products—they are melted down and molded to make bottles, pens, straws and any number of plastic items. Nurdles are an important part of making the plastic products that we use every day—but they are also a cause for concern when accidentally lost into the water. These small floating specks look like food to many marine animals, and can cause animals to become ill or even die. There is also concern that these pellets may leach chemicals into the water. While difficult to spot, nurdles can be found on most beaches as they are carried by currents around the globe—so keep your eyes peeled as you comb the beach and join the International Coastal Cleanup Day on September 20.
Find an expanded edition of this article and more in our newest edition of Baylines, Marine Science Institute’s quarterly newsletter!