News

SET reading

Ready, SET, Go!

October 14, 2020

Monitoring the growth and distribution of our coastal estuary vegetation, marshes, mangroves, and seagrass beds, is an important component of the Reserve’s stewardship and land management efforts. Another critical measurement is the sinking or gaining of elevation of these habitats in relation to sea level rise.  Understanding how estuary habitats can “keep up” with sea level rise is an essential coastal management question. Not only is the health and wellbeing of coastal habitats important to the natural ecosystem, it is important to the thriving human communities and economies

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Dr. Chris Biggs holding an acoustic receiver.

Listen In: Sounds of the Estuary

October 9, 2020

Estuaries may appear to be quiet sanctuaries perfect for a meditative retreat or an escape from the hum of the city, but they are anything but silent. The Mission-Aransas Reserve, along with partners from North Inlet-Winyah Bay and Rookery Bay Reserves and researchers from The University of Texas at Austin, the University of South Carolina Beaufort, and the Florida International University are monitoring ecosystem change by studying the sounds within the estuary seascape. With support from the National Estuarine Research

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Melanie Quan

New Research on Nurdle Batches and Distribution

October 5, 2020

Melanie Quan is a senior from Las Lomas High School in California. Over the past few years, Melanie has done science and engineering projects concerning different areas of plastic pollution, such as their interactions with heavy metals, the removal of microplastics, and the up-and-coming concept of algal bioplastics. Plastic pollution, an issue that is important to her, was her topic of choice once again this summer. Under the guidance of Jace Tunnell, Reserve

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Nurdle Patrol startup kit

New Nurdle Patrol Startup Kits

August 17, 2020

Organizations can now create their own local Nurdle Patrol citizen science project! Nurdle Patrol is a project where volunteers conduct 10 minute surveys looking for tiny plastic pellets (nurdles) along waterways around the country in an effort to identify high concentrations that could lead to the source of plastic being released. With funding from the Matagorda Bay Mitigation Trust

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Alaska nurdling

Alaskan "Sweet Spots" for Nurdles

April 29, 2020

Alaska, nicknamed “The Last Frontier,” is one of the most interesting, and paradoxical, US states. It’s the largest state by area, over twice the square mileage of Texas and four times that of California. And yet, it is less populous than Rhode Island. It has more coastline than all other states combined, with coasts facing the Arctic Ocean, Pacific Ocean, and Bering Sea, but the Nurdle Patrol map has never before displayed surveys from one of its beaches. However, there is someone in this sparse state who happens to know a lot about nurdles, and this year, he reached out to help the

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jace tunnell crowd

Nurdle Patrol Needs You, Citizen Scientists!

April 8, 2020

Citizen scientists, Nurdle Patrol needs your help! Nurdles are tiny plastic pellets that are used to make almost every plastic item we use, so they’re everywhere! Ships, trucks, and trains all carry them, and when they spill out on their way to manufacturing facilities, they reach the ocean and wash up by the millions on beaches across every coast. The issue with nurdles is that they are harmful or even deadly for sea creatures, and if we clean them up from beaches, new ones will simply find their way back. That’s why the Nurdle Patrol is determined to make a permanent change. 

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Nurdle Jar

What do you do with your nurdles?

March 26, 2020

If you’ve been a citizen scientist for Nurdle Patrol, you’re probably familiar with the collection process: going out to your local shores, picking up plastic pellets from the waterline, and logging the data. But you may have wondered, what’s next? Clearly, you wouldn’t just fling them out into the ocean again. So, what do you do with these newly collected nurdles to make sure they don’t end up polluting a different beach?

Jace Tunnell, reserve director at the University of Texas Marine Science Institute, gets this question all the time. His suggestion is to “put the

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Jace Tunnell

Nurdle Patrol Methodology Published

March 9, 2020

We are excited to announce that the Nurdle Patrol sampling methodology was published in February 2020 in the science journal Marine Pollution Bulletin. The paper identifies not only how sampling is conducted, but how the data can be used in helping to guide policy. With the paper being open access, this means it can be downloaded and shared for free, by anyone! We are hoping this paper helps communities across the country use the Nurdle Patrol data for future research and litigation against companies that are releasing plastic pellets into the waterways. Anyone in the world can add data

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number of nurdles to make plastic grocery bag

How many nurdles does it take?

December 24, 2019

Ever wondered how many plastic pellets (nurdles) it takes to make every day house hold products? Well, we sat down with a scale to find out. These numbers are not exact due to various factors, but they give us a good estimate for how many nurdles it takes to make certain items. Some of the factors that make this not exact are that most of the nurdles we used for this are low density polyethylene (PE) found on shorelines. Some of the items we were weighing were made of polypropylene or PET, which have slightly different densities that PE. Other factors are that depending on where the

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