Not So Nice Nurdles

By Lillian Ngotshane, 26th February 2021

My name is Lillian Ngotshane and I am the housekeeper at the Save Our Seas Foundation Shark Education Centre.

Lately, we have been collecting something called nurdles on the beaches around False Bay. Nurdles are the raw material used in the manufacture of all plastic products. They may be small, but they can be extremely hazardous to the environment. Because they are so small they can difficult to see and hard to collect.

Nasty little plastic nurdles © SOSF Shark Education Centre

I think that when you collect them you should take your time and get as many as possible.  The purpose of collecting these nurdles is to protect sea animals.  The nurdles are clear or slightly white so they look like tiny eggs, they could easily be mistaken for food by sea animals like fish.  The fish swallow the plastic and this can kill them.

We are not sure how so many of them have ended up in the sea.  We think it’s from a container that fell off of a ship a long time ago, but we can’t be sure.

Separating nurdles from sand in tubs of water © SOSF Shark Education Centre

When the team first collected the nurdles and brought them back to the Shark Education Centre I spent a long time sorting them out of the sand and the plants that came off the beach.  The easiest way to do this is to add the sand to a bucket of water, as the little plastic beads easily float to the top.

I am so happy that I am helping to save the lives of sea creatures by taking the nurdles out of the natural environment.  I am so proud of everyone who is trying to help and collect the nurdles off the beaches.

Happy to have removed plastic nurdles from the environment © SOSF Shark Education Centre

If you go to the beach and collect nurdles you can drop them off at the Shark Spotters office in Muizenberg in a container with the date and the beach you found the nurdles on.