A citizen science project to identify plastic-degrading microbes
As part of our ongoing research on microbes living on and possibly consuming plastics in marine environments, we are inviting you to send us microplastics that you find in the environment. We have received funding from Swansea University’s Greatest Need Fund to broaden our study on degradation of plastics sent to us by members of the public.
To help our study, we are asking you to send us 'nurdles’, which you can usually find on sandy beaches if you look closely. Nurdles are small plastic pellets used in the process of making plastic materials. They are usually spherical, smaller than a pea, come in a variety of colours and you can often find them on the beach.
Billions of these plastic nurdles are littered in the marine environment every year from plastic production and manufacturing sites, with large quantities of them occassionally being released from cargo ships. Nurdles float far and wide, often landing on beaches where they can be found at the high water mark.
The charity FIDRA organises 'The Great Nurdle Hunt'. This involves going to a nearby beach, counting nurdles and adding an entry to their map, which is used to raise awareness of this issue. We are asking you to take one further step - can you send us some of the nurdles that you collect?
We will then study whether microbes found on your plastic could feed on it and help managing plastic pollution.
Our address is:
Marine Microbial Ecology Research Group
Wallace Building, rm. 110
Swansea, SA2 8PP
Please post the following to us or bring by latest by 30th Nov 2023:
- at least a handful of nurdles in a small bag or envelope
- the location where they were collected (GPS or address)
- any other observations at the site (e.g. wildlife, pollution, recent weather)
- your email address, if you are happy for us to keep in touch about the study
You can contact Matt by email if you have any questions or if you would like to share pictures of your nurdle hunt.