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How to take part

Nurdles hunts are fun and taking part is easy. By joining in you are helping end plastic pellet pollution.

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Head to a beach

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Search for nurdles 

Note: We encourage you to submit your findings whether or not you found any nurdles. A nurdle hunt that found no nurdles is important information too!

 

 

 

6162

This is the number of nurdle hunts that have been completed and submitted to our online map so far. You can be part of this. Head out today, look for nurdles and join The Great Nurdle Hunt!

When, Where, How

When and where to hunt

You can take part in a nurdle hunt anytime and anywhere. However sandy beaches are usually the best place to look for nurdles. 

If you’re heading to a beach it’s good to check tide times. After high tide is the best time to search for pellets freshly washed up from the last tide and its also the safest time to search - we don’t want you getting wet feet or becoming stranded.

If hunting on a riverbank, be sure to check weather conditions and ensure water levels and flow is safe. Use your judgement and only hunt when safe to do so. We don’t want you getting washed away!

 

How?

All you need to do it count how many nurdles you see at your chosen location. So first familiarise yourself with what you're looking for:

Colour: nurdles can vary in colour from black to blue, yellow to white. Most often they are clear or white but they become yellow over time, so keep your eyes peeled for all different types.

Size and Shape:Between 2-5mm in diameter, often shaped like a lentil, these pesky pellets are small!The image below shows the variation in different types of nurdles. 

 

Photo credit: Archipelagos Institute of Marine Conservation

How long does it take?

How long is a piece of string…? We don’t have a minimum amount of time you need to search, but we would suggest spending more than a few minutes to get an idea of whether there are nurdles at your location or not.

A bit of time is needed to get your eye in, identify if any nurdles are present and start counting! We are interested in how many you can see. We don’t expect you to collect the nurdles, but if you decide to do this, you are likely to need a lot more time.

 

Check out our top tips and downloadable resources below! 

Photo credit: Parley for the Oceans, Hawaii
Photo credit: Parley for the Oceans, Hawaii
Photo credit: Wild Oceans South Africa
Photo credit: Archipelagos Institute of Marine Conservation

Top tips

Choose a location

Sandy beaches are often the easiest place to do a nurdle hunt. The most obvious choice is a coastal ocean beach, but it could include beaches on freshwater lakes or parts of riverbanks too.

Search anywhere

Head to your local sandy beach or use our Nurdle Map and identify a beach near you where you could survey. Those without a marker haven’t been surveyed yet.

Be safe

Ensure that you and your nurdle hunting party can access the beach safely. Check tide times and weather reports if necessary.

Look carefully

Remember, take your time, get close to the ground and look carefully. Slowly walk the length of your chosen area looking for nurdles. If you dont see any immediately, choose an area to stay still in and look closely.

Nooks and crannies

Try looking in the seaweed and beach debris along the tideline. Nurdles can get caught in the nooks and crannies of driftwood, seawood or even alongside paths or blown into the dunes or grass along the back of the beach.

What we need

Count how many you find, how long you were hunting and how many people took part. Note where you are on the beach when you find nurdles.

Take notes

Note down how many you find to help you remember how many you found, so you can input it online at www.nurdlehunt.org.uk later. Or use our website on your mobile and submit data straight away!

Photo credit: Michiel P
Image

Where to look

Headlands: Nurdles often accumulate near the headlands of bays. This is a good place to start your hunt.

Paths: Look on sheltered paths/tracks at the edge of the beach. Nurdles could have been blown or swept there during very high tides or storms.

Vegetation: Swept on shore from the sea, nurdles can get caught in vegeatation at the back of the beach - they can also accumulate at the bottom of seawalls.

Tide line: The sea washes debris up the beach, creating a tide line where the last high tide reached. Nurdles can be found in amoungst the seaweed and driftwood, as well as other bits of plastic and marine litter.

Sandy beaches: It is often much easier to spot nurdles on sandy beaches. they can be harder to spot on pebbly or stony beaches.

Riverbanks or estuaries: Most nurdles enter the oceans via rivers and waterways. Check river banks for nurdles caught in vegetation, often after high water.

Inland: Spills occur across the country. Checking other water bodies such as lochs, lakes and reservoirs is also a really useful source information. Remember let us know if you dont find any nurdles too!

Know your nurdles...

Nurdles

Nurdles can be hard to spot! They are very small and their colour often blends in with the sand, so on your hunt slow down and get close to the ground.

Colour:
Most are clear or white but they become yellow over time. You do get coloured, black and grey pellets too.

Size and Shape:
Between 3-5mm in diameter, often shaped like a lentil.

Photo credit: Yvonne O
Image

Biobeads

Watch out for biobeads. These are another small pellet that you might find on beaches during your nurdle hunts. Similar to nurdles, these plastic beads are often black-grey and wrinkly or ridged in appearance and are used as an aeration aid in water treatment. The main difference to look out for is the wrinkly sides, which nurdles dont have.

You do not need to count these during your nurdle hunt, but you can let us know when you find these when you submit your information to our website.

Photo credit: Fidra
Biobeads

This picture is full of biobeads, but there are a few nurdles in the image too. Can you spot the nurdles?

Downloadable resources

Still confused? Here are some resources to help you hunt:

Download our handy ID Sheet to help you tell your biobeads from your BB pellets, nurdles from your non- plastics.

Download our nurdle flyer outlining what nurdles are, where to find them and why you should take part in The Great Nurdle Hunt.  

Download our top tips document summarsing some more handy tips for nurdle hunting. 

Photo credit: Fidra
Nurdle ID Sheet

Collecting nurdles

You don’t have to collect the nurdles you find, the most important part is the number of nurdles you think are present on the beach during your nurdle hunt!

Please remember that nurdles adsorb toxic pollutants, meaning they collect on the surface of the plastic, from the ocean. This also happens with other contaminants like bacteria, which form films on the surface of plastic too – often called biofilms it has been shown that nurdles can be covered in bacteria such as E. Coli. Not something you want to get in your mouth.

So if you want to collect them, we recommend wearing gloves and  washing your hands thoroughly with soap and water after touching any beach debris. A pair of tweezers or a handy sieve also helps separate the nurdles from the sand.

Photo credit: Parley for the Oceans, Sri Lanka
Photo credit: Parley for the Oceans, Sri Lanka

What to do with collected nurdles

  • Put them on display – store your nurdles in a jar and use them to raise awareness. Nurdles are easier to explain to people when you have a good example!

 

  • Contribute to science – some scientists in Japan have been studying toxic chemicals associated with nurdles. You can send samples of your pellets to their lab to contribute to this work. Find out more – www.pelletwatch.org. Please check the requirements of how they want nurdles to be handled before sending them directly.   ​

 

  • Send to an artist – Check out artists in your local area/country who may do work with nurdles. An artist we can recommend is Maarten Vanden Eynde www.maartenvandeneynde.com/, he is creating a growing artwork called Check mate, which visualises the scale of plastic pollution using a chess board and nurdles. Please consider sending your nurdles to Maarten after you have completed your hunt. ​

 

  • Bin securely – Unfortunately nurdles can’t be recycled so If you do decide to throw them away, sometimes the best option is to fill something sturdy with a lid so they can’t escape. Or put them in multiple plastic bags (so the bag doesn’t split and spill nurdles into the environment on the way to landfill). Not ideal, we know, but that's why we want to stop them entering our oceans in the first place.  

 

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