Fidra is an environmental charity (named after the island in the Firth of Forth made famous by Robert Louis Stevenson) working to reduce plastic waste and chemical pollution.
The group launched The Great Nurdle Hunt in 2013 to document the pollution caused by these plastic pellets, highlighting the issues facing people across Scotland, and then further afield. Fidra uses an evidence-based approach to to encourage and enable plastics producers, users, transporters, and trade associations to introduce best practice in plastic pellet management.
Strandliners collects data each October for The Great Nurdle Hunt at Camber Sands and Cuckmere, but volunteers also look for bio-beads, plastic pellets used by wastewater treatment plants. Looking at the ratio of bio-beads to nurdles in each of our survey areas may give some indication of where they might be coming from.
We found an average of 76 bio-beads and 19 nurdles per square metre, even though the beach had just been mechanically cleaned. In our nurdle ‘race’ we found 1477 nurdles in 30 minutes.
This gave us a ratio of just under 4:1 bio-beads to nurdles.
we found an average of 1515 nurdles and 1028 bio-beads in our 50 cm square quadrats (0.25 square metres), but barely made an impact in 2 hours.
This gave us a ration of 0.7:1 bio-beads to nurdles, again slightly lower than previous years.
River Rother, Rye
(Salt marsh and grazed grass riverbank strandline)
194 biobeads, 56 nurdles
Found in pockets in grass and earth.
(Old strandline & saltmarsh riverbank strandline)
3,440 biobeads & 4,160 nurdles
Many more were present but our surveys were to specifically compare the ratio between nurdles and biobeads, as this may indicate where the biobeads are coming from.
(Sand, old and new strandlines)
1,350+ biobeads & 450 nurdles
They are present all along the shoreline, deposited by the sea and blown by the wind, washed in and out depending on tides.
Strandliners have been involved in researching the issue locally, with a report written by an MSc student from the University of Brighton as part of a collaborative activity between the university and Rother District Council. You can read the report here.