Nurdles prove major hurdle for marine life


What’s a nurdle? A nurdle is a very small pellet of plastic which serves as the key material in the manufacture of plastic products. Countless billions of these small plastic balls are used each year to make nearly all our plastic products.

Accidental spillage and mishandling means that countless nurdles have ended up in our oceans, wreaking havoc on the environment.

Mistaken for food by our marine-life and seabirds, nurdles and other plastics can make animals very sick when ingested.

Surfrider Foundation Surf Coast has led a number of nurdle searches along the beaches of the Surf Coast over the past 12 months. Most recently, a team of 15 volunteers conducted a search at Fairhaven Beach who were surprised to find hundreds of nurdles along a small stretch of beach just north of the surf lifesaving club.

Surfrider Foundation Surf Coast President John Foss said that the amount of nurdles found washing up along the Surf Coast has proved more extensive than first thought.

“We were blown away by how many nurdles we found along Fairhaven in such a short period of time. It’s a bigger issue along the Surf Coast then we thought.”

Mr Foss said that the worst affected areas seemed to be beaches that faced directly out to sea, possibly pointing to shipping containers or pollution further afield as potential sources.

“The ‘ocean’ facing beaches seem to be catching the highest number of nurdles. I picked up half a dozen that had literally washed up on the sand in front of my eyes.”

Surfrider Foundation Surf Coast collected the following number of nurdles:

  • 13th Beach (Barwon Heads – north of Black Rock Ocean Outfall) – 700+ nurdles
  • Point Impossible (Torquay) – 100+ nurdles
  • Bells Beach – 10-20 nurdles
  • Fairhaven Beach – 600+ nurdles

SurfRider

Mr Foss has shared a sample of nurdles and other microplastics with the Great Ocean Road Coast Committee to be incorporated into the organisation’s environmental education programming.

For more information on how you can get involved with the next Surfrider Foundation Surf Coast beach clean-up, contact the group on 0408 386 812, email surfcoast@surfrider.org.au or check out their Facebook page.

For further volunteer opportunities visit the Great Ocean Road Coast Committee volunteer page at www.gorcc.com.au/volunteer.

The Great Ocean Road Coast Committee is a not-for- profit organisation that manages 37 kilometres of public land and coastline from Torquay to Lorne.  All dollars raised through our commercial operations are reinvested back into the coastal environment, caravan parks and the community.

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