Nature Blog Network Future Earth: Nurdles in paradise

Tuesday, 28 December 2010

Nurdles in paradise

So, if you thought of nurdles at all, it may have been as a benign cricketing term ('nurdling into the gap' can be a good move for batsmen). Not so benign in this form. Take a good look at the small (approx 3mm across) pellets of plastic in this (8cm high) bottle. Look around you wherever you are and you are likely to see the same colours of plastic in household or garden goods.

These are 'nurdles' - mostly pre-production plastic pellets - collected in 20 minutes from a random metre square of remote beach on the eastern shoreline of Scotland. They are washed out of transport tankers and off docksides straight into the ocean and journey around the globe. Nurdles join micro-plastics from cosmetics and the many items of plastic garbage from our disposable society that are polluting our seas. They have been found choking small marine creatures that mistake them for food - and carry an additional payload of hydrophobic chemicals that attach to them in the ocean.

Suddenly "nurdling into the gap" takes on an altogether more sinister meaning for humans dependent on marine productivity. And if only plastic could be converted to Ashes as easily as the English cricket team's nurdles are in Melbourne this week.

1 comment:

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