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Concerned citizens unite to clear beaches of dangerous plastic pellets

Have you ever heard of a nurdle? They are tiny plastic pellets used in the process for making plastic products. They look harmless, but they can be deadly for animals.

A group in Collier County formed Nurdle Patrol to clean up beaches and raise awareness toward these tiny objects.

“I want to go out and try because it seems like a challenge like a detective hunt,” said. Jace Tunnell said.

Tunnell wants your help to find these small plastic beads all around the Gulf of Mexico.

“Going along every 10 to 30 miles of the Gulf of Mexico,” Tunnell said. “And we’re looking at concentrations of plastic pellets that we’re finding on the beaches.”

Manufactures use nurdles to create plastic products, but they are often lost in the transfer process and collect in our waterways.

“Shipped all over the world to companies that melt them down to make our plastic products like sunglasses, water bottles,” Tunnell said. “I got an email another day where a lady found 250 in a 10-minute period.”

Tunnell said nurdles can be dangerous, especially when sea turtles, birds and fish eat them.

“If they ingest enough of them, it could block their digestive track,” Tunnell said. “These things absorb toxins.”

Nurdles are giving hundreds of volunteers like Morgan Zeleny an excuse to hit the beach to help.

“Those things can be affected and fixed,” Zeleny said. “So when we’re involved and we’re aware, it’s in the higher ups will be more involved in more aware.”

By picking up the plastic pellets at your closest beach for 10 minutes, taking photos and emailing Nurdle patrol the data.

In June, nurdlepatrol.org will be online. It will provide an interactive map where users can login from their phone, add data and zoom into local beaches to see how many nurdles were found there.

For more information, visit the Nurdle Patrol Facebook page.

“There are some real outcomes because a lot of this data is going to state and federal agencies to be able to try to figure out where these are coming from,” Tunnell said.

 

Reporter:Anika Henanger
Writer:Jack Lowenstein
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