A RECENT clean- up at Minim Cove in Mosman Park uncovered a staggering 25,000 nurdles in just 10sqm and it could be just the tip of the iceberg, claim Sea Shepherd Australia.
Nurdles are tiny plastic pellets that leak toxins into the environment and look like food for unsuspecting marine life.
Once consumed they can release toxins which mimic the sensation of a full stomach, leading to the animal dying of starvation. The plastic can also be passed onto humans and other animals if they eat an affected organism.
The banks of the Swan River have become a hotspot for these lentil-sized pellets after millions were spilled into the river along North Fremantle and Mosman Park in 2016.
Recently Sea Shepherd volunteers did its annual clean-up at Jenalup Beach on Point Walter, picking 2000 nurdles from the riverbank in a couple of hours.
Marine debris coordinator Karolina Strittmatter says the nurdle problem is getting worse, not better.
“We removed 7000 nurdles from different locations on the Swan River in 2022, but this is more than we have ever found here,” she says. “It’s extremely concerning for local marine life.
“Nurdles are transported internationally by road, rail and sea as the building blocks of all plastic items. This wide-reaching supply chain gives them many opportunities to escape into the environment.
“The risk of these spills is compounded by little regulation concerning their transport around the world and that they are small, light and mostly float.”
Throughout March, Sea Shepherd Australia holds its annual Aussie Nurdle Hunt with teams of volunteers removing the tiny plastic pellets from the environment.
Strittmatter says they are aiming to report their findings to the UK environmental charity Fidra, which is lobbying for stricter rules on shipping nurdles.
“There must be stricter regulations for the transportation of nurdles globally,” Strittmatter says.
“The impact of spills and leaks is just devastating and it needs to be addressed.”
To find out more or to volunteer visit seashepherd.org.au
by STEPHEN POLLOCK