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Finding Nurdles

Nurdles? Sounds as if it could be the name of a comic character in a Dickens’ novel. Well, nurdles aren’t so funny, albeit they are useful and, consequently, ubiquitous in our modern world.

Yesterday, we (Adventurers) ventured to Crooklets beach to meet Fiona, a member of the The 2 Minute Foundation and its Beach School Co-ordinator. The aims of the foundation are to see a world without plastic litter and pollution, and to inspire and to enable people to change the way they interact with outdoor spaces.

Fiona outlined the activities for the day. First, we undertook a two-minute beach clean. The beach was divided into three sections, with a group allocated an area. Unsurprisingly, we were looking for plastic waste, in particular nurdles. The best place to find nurdles is along the strandline.

So, what is a nurdle? Nurdles are pellets of plastic, each less than 5mm in diameter and weighing around 20mg. It is from nurdles that plastic items are made; for example, it takes about 600 nurdles to make a small plastic disposable water bottle. Unfortunately, not only do the finished products end up in the oceans of the world but so too do nurdles.

Each year, an average of over 200,000 tonnes of nurdles end up in the oceans, circulating for decades, eventually washing ashore – at the moment, they seem to find Scotland’s coasts particularly attractive places in which to end their oceanic odysseys. 

Our next activity was exploring the rock pools of the inter-tidal zone. We were delighted to see that these were teeming with life. We were even lucky enough to find some Beadlet anemones and some Strawberry anemones; also, we found a rare Pink velvet crab lurking in one of the larger pools. After lunch, we tested our map-reading skills.

Fiona had placed some painted stones at various locations on the beach and our task was to navigate our way to them. As well as a picture painted on it, each stone had an interesting, ocean-related fact written on it. For example, nineteen out of every twenty animals on the planet lives in the oceans; and over half of the oxygen produced on Earth evolves from phytoplankton in the seas.

Our day on the beach in Fiona’s company was an interesting learning experience. We look forward to increasing our knowledge of pollution and recycling over the next few weeks as Fiona leads an after-school club.

To coin a phrase: every little helps!