COVID-19 (Coronavirus) information

Take care when nurdle hunting

Across the world we are experiencing the ongoing impact of COVID-19.

In some countries rules to prevent the spread of coronavirus have been relaxed, in other parts, measures are still in place. 

We encourage you to only take part in a nurdle hunt where it is safe to do so, and always follow your local government and / or council rules.

As already encouraged, you should use gloves when nurdle hunting and wash hands thoroughly after touching any marine debris.

How to take part

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

All you need to tell us is how many nurdles you find, where you found them, how long you were hunting and how many people took part.

Check out the handy video below for a clear idea of what we need you to do. We have also put together some handy tips on this page. You might also find our ID sheet useful for identifying your finds.

There are 3 simple steps:


Head to a beach


Do a 'Nurdle Hunt' and search for nurdles 


Submit your findings online!

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!


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!

What you'll need

  • Yourself
  • A beach, riverbank or estuary
  • A pen or pencil
  • Our ID Sheet

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 later. Or use our website on your mobile and submit data straight away!

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!

But if you do want to collect them, which is sometimes helpful for counting, an old jam jar is ideal for keeping nurdles in and showing them off to your friends.

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.

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

Unfortunately nurdles can’t be recycled so if you do collect them, and don’t want to keep them, please place them in a bin. Sometimes the best option is to fill a plastic bottle with them as they are less likely to break than a bag, and therefore less likely to spill 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.

When, How, Where

When to hunt

Anytime! (Although it helps if its daylight)

If you’re heading to a beach it’s good to check tide times - after a high tide is the best time to search for pellets washed up on the last tide. Plus, 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 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, where you are and the time you take looking for the nurdles. 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.


Photo credit: Archipelagos Institute of Marine Conservation
Photo credit: Archipelagos Institute of Marine Conservation
Photo credit: Michiel P

Where to look

Headlands: Beach litter often accumulates near the headlands of bays. This is a good place to start your hunt.

Paths: Look on sheltered tracks and paths at the edge of the beach. This is where nurdles could have been blown or swept to during very high tides or storms.

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

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 left on the beach from the last tide.

Sandy beaches: It is often much easier to spot nurdles on sandy beaches where the water drains away leaving the nurdles on top, where as it can be harder to spot nurdles 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 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.

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


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

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

ID Sheet

Still confused?

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

Photo credit: Fidra
Nurdle ID Sheet


Anyone can do a nurdle hunt at any time, anywhere. So dont let us hold you back!

Now and then, however, we do ask people to take part in a mass nurdle hunt on a specific date or dates. These events are a great opportunity to be part of something on a large scale.

To find out when we do these events keep an eye on our Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Find out about upcoming and past events:

Tell people you are taking part! Click on these links to post to Facebook or Twitter

Upcoming event:

Take part in The Great Global Nurdle Hunt this October! 

Save the date: 1 - 31 October 2021 

More information coming soon... Sign up to our newsletter on the homepage to keep up to date with the latest information.

Things to remember


Your findings are really important; we need your evidence to show the global plastics industry the extent of the problem. Find out how we use your information here.

Remember to take photos! You can upload photos when submitting your data. Photos are also great to help you share your story, you can post them on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter. You might even want to post your event and photos on our Facebook page too.

Use our hastag, #NurdleHunt, when tweeting or sharing your story on instagram.

Find all this information and more by downloading some ‘Tips to help you hunt’ - this has things in it like knowing where to look, an equipment list and other useful bits of info.