June 6, 2019
The Mission-Aransas National Estuarine Research Reserve embarked on a 10 day tour of the Gulf states to survey concentrations of nurdles washing up on beaches across the Gulf. Jace Tunnell, director of the Mission-Aransas Reserve, and Sam Sugarek, director of water quality programs at the Nueces River Authority, drove over 3,700 miles, surveyed for nurdles at 65 beaches with over 126 surveys from Corpus Christi, Texas to Key West, Florida from May 19 to 28, 2019. They collected over 5,000 nurdles over the 10 day period with the highest concentrations in Texas. Some of the highlights of the trip include presentations at three other Reserve's around the Gulf, very few nurdles on the west coast of Florida, higher concentrations in the Florida Keys, including the Dry Tortugas, and finding nurdles along the Mississippi River under the bridge in Baton Rouge. The maps created from citizen science data and from the Nurdle Expedition data cover almost every accessible beach in the U.S. Gulf of Mexico, showing where highest concentrations of nurdles can be found. These areas might also be regions where regulatory agencies could target investigations on where the source of pellets might be coming from.