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Local scientist calls on volunteers to help collect plastic pellet samples

Posted: 1:54 PM, Nov 27, 2018
Updated: 2018-11-27 19:53:24-05

In October, KRIS 6 reported about hundreds of thousands of small plastic pellets, called nurdles, washing up on the beach near Bob Hall Pier .

More were found on other beaches along the Texas coast . Now, a local scientist is asking for help to figure out how widespread the problem truly is.

In a video posted to social media, Jace Tunnell explains just how easy it is find plastic pellets washing up on nearby beaches. Tunnell, who is the director for the Mission Aransas Reserve, says collecting the pellets is easy too.

Nurdle Patrol – Training 101. Okay, I've got 18 folks who have said they would like to help with #NurdlePatrol that range from Dauphin Island in #Alabama to North Padre in #Texas. Would love to have some folks in South Padre too if anyone knows some folks down there. Anyways, this is a 5 minute video training that explains how to collect the nurdles, some of the negative impacts, and what to do after you get them collected. If someone would like in-person training, let me know and I'll meet you out at the beach. Once you email me your data at jace.tunnell@austin.utexas.edu, then I'll be able to start getting a better handle on beach preferences for people collecting and I'll create a map and spreadsheet to share with folks monthly. Would be great if you could collect monthly, but if not, no worries, we can always use the data you send. If you are collecting in a group, like Cub Scouts or a school group, each person should count their nurdles separately. Go get'em! Let me know if you have any questions!Nurdles = raw plastic; pre-production plastic.

Posted by Jace Tunnell on Monday, November 26, 2018

 

The pellets are used to make plastic products like water bottles or plastic bags. Tunnell first spotted them in early October. But now, he’s asking for volunteers to help him collect more samples from their favorite beaches. He’s also asking volunteers to send information back to him, including when and where the pellets were found, along with a photo.

Tunnell says the more samples are collected, the easier it will be to identify how many pellets are on the beaches, and how long they may stay.

Tunnell tells KRIS 6 that so far, 25 people have volunteered. Those volunteers include beachcombers from Galveston and South Padre Island, and as far away as Alabama and Mississippi.

Mare Kobie is a volunteer from Port Isabel who saw Tunnell’s video. Kobie collected her first sample on Tuesday morning.

“When I found the first one and saw next to it was another and another, it kind of made me sad,” Kobie said.

Kobie is an avid beach-goer who volunteers her time protecting sea life, like turtles. She says plastics can do a lot of damage to marine life and beach habitats. So she’s happy to help Tunnell in his efforts.

“I think it’s exciting,” Kobie said. “And I just love the sea turtles so if it helps one sea turtle not get a nurdle in their belly, I will be happy.”

Tunnell says he’ll be collecting samples throughout 2019 in hopes of getting a handle on just how many pellets are out there. He can be reached at Jace.Tunnell@austin.utexas.edu