Nurdle Patrol Needs You, Citizen Scientists!

April 8, 2020
jace tunnell crowd

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. 

Nurdle Patrol, led by reserve director Jace Tunnell, is a citizen science project that was started by the Mission-Aransas National Estuarine Research Reserve at the University of Texas Marine Science Institute. If you’re like us and care about the environment and sea creatures, and you would be excited to conduct science that will make a lasting impact, this is where you come in. Go to your local beach, find an area with an abundance of nurdles, and collect these small plastic pellets for just 10 minutes at a time. If you want to know more about the process or what to look for, check out our YouTube videos below! To submit data to the project, enter the collection time, location, and amount in a Nurdle Report, found on our website Our objective is to map out data submitted by citizens like you (yes, you!) to find areas of high concentration, and ultimately address the sources of this pollution by presenting cases to U.S. federal agencies, state environmental agencies, and environmental groups.

Conducting a nurdle survey is a small thing that can make a huge difference for environmental conservation and protection of marine life. The best part is, anyone can do it! As shown in our YouTube videos down below, Nurdle Patrol is relevant and open to citizen scientists of all ages, from beaches across America and beyond! Although Nurdle Patrol plans to make the biggest impact within the U.S., Tunnell says that thanks to the website’s mapping system, citizens from all over the world could “show the problem in their country, print up the maps, and make a case to their environmental agencies that a change needs to be made.” In fact, Nurdle Patrol data is already being implemented into the world-wide Great Nurdle Hunt Map by Scottish environmental charity Fidra. To date, we’ve had over 2,000 volunteers remove a total of 305,388 nurdles from beaches spanning from Brazil to Canada. Nurdle Patrol is the intersection of scientific research and public policy, all completely in the hands of citizens like you and me.

To find out more about the problem with nurdles, possible solutions, and how you can help, check out our YouTube videos, produced by Carlos Haney of Enlightened Images, and paid for through a grant from 11th Hour Racing. You can find them on the Mission-Aransas National Estuarine Research Reserve We have a new video that was released just last month, providing a great overview of the issue and our project. Plastic pollution may seem like an overwhelming problem, but by entering data for the Nurdle Patrol, we can help make a permanent change to stop nurdle pollution. Make sure to share our videos with your friends and family to let them know about our project, and show them that we can end nurdle pollution together! Stay safe, and happy nurdling!

I JOINED Nurdle Patrol to Help Stop Plastic Pollution


Nurdle Patrol Looking for Plastic Pellets! 

To see who is able to conduct surveys, hear what people are finding, and receive news and information about the project, get involved on our Facebook page 


About the author: Arya Das is a high school student from the San Francisco Bay Area. She is currently a junior, and plans to major in environmental engineering and work in pollution prevention or renewable energy after college. Arya works with reserve director Jace Tunnell to write articles for the citizen science project Nurdle Patrol.