When spending your holidays at the coastal regions of the Southern Cape, you may encounter various forms of pollution, including nurdles, and many marine birds.
The word “nurdle” does not conjure up an image of a dangerous, deadly thing, but sadly, when found on beaches, in our oceans or our rivers, it is exactly that! Nurdles are small (about 1-5 mm in size) and used to manufacture the majority of plastic products that we use on a daily basis.
Nurdles have become a major problem on beaches and in oceans worldwide because of accidental spillage during transfer, causing serious problems within the marine ecosystem. Containers have ended up in the ocean during stormy seas and the nurdles are then released into the water. In many instances, nurdles are seen as food and ingested by birds, fish, mammals, etc.
When walking on the beach, one might not even pay attention to the small objects seen in the debris along the high water mark or within the tide-lines. To give you an idea of scale, you can fit about 300 nurdles (weighing around 5 g) in a tablespoon. If you therefore come across a patch of nurdles or find them strewn in a high tide line, you are potentially looking at 1 000’s along one beach.
How can you help?
1. Each time you visit a beach, take a plastic bag with you and keep your eyes open for nurdles and any other form of trash. We can all make a difference if we pick up litter on the beaches. After collecting nurdles, please tie the pellets tightly in a packet and place it next to the litter drums or in the containers specifically provided for nurdles at various beaches. Place nurdles in a bottle or jar and raise awareness about this when people visit your home. You could also stuff them into an eco-brick and contribute this to a community project.
2. Watch out for any penguins or other injured seabirds. Many times, the birds are taking a breather on the rocks or sand but there are times when they need help. When you spot penguins and other injured marine birds on the beaches, immediately call SAPREC(Seabird and Penguin Rehabilitation Centre) on 071 643 2496 or 082 341 0582.
Are you stumped for a gift for Christmas? What about creating an amazing memory by arranging a visit to the SAPREC centre in Mossdustria, Mossel Bay, where you’ll be able to interact with penguins and take photos. Book a visit by calling the SAPREC numbers provided. Whilst at SAPREC, you could also hand the nurdles to them, as they will dispose of it correctly.