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Nurdles, mermaid’s purses and a lot of litter

Published: March 10, 2017

Falmouth Marine School

A beach clean organised by students proved the perfect opportunity to conduct research on mermaid’s purses and at the same time tackle the problem of nurdles.

More than 30 people turned up at Polhdu Beach last Sunday for the event organised by Ben Jones and Owen Michael, both 19 and studying Marine Science at Falmouth Marine School.

The volunteers collected eight bin bags worth of rubbish, 20 egg cases, which are also known as a mermaids’ purses, and a lot of nurdles.

Owen from St Ives explained that nurdles are small plastic pellets about the size of a small pea.

They affect the marine ecosystem, attracting pollutants and potentially entering the food chain when mistaken as prey by marine animals and seabirds,” he continued.

“We haven’t counted them yet, but one participant Ben Porter collected 805 in 30 minutes.”
Before the clean, the students contacted Surfers Against Sewage, who provided them with collection materials, while The Shark Trust supplied ID guides so the volunteers could collect empty egg cases.

The empty egg cases provide information on the whereabouts of skate and ray nursery grounds, which enable the Shark Trust to propose conservation measures where needed.

As part of the students’ Personal, Employability Skills Development (PSED) module, they are tasked with organising an event.

Ben said there was a desire to “use the time to make a difference and do something for the environment”.

“The beach clean was a great way to do that. We didn’t want to go too far away from Falmouth, but Falmouth beaches are relatively clean so we did some research and Poldhu came up as a strong contender as one that needed a bit helping hand.”

Ben added that the PSED module is “all about employability skills, so it’s a great element of the course as we got to work with the community and professional organisations”.

“The beach clean was a great way to do that. We didn’t want to go too far away from Falmouth, but Falmouth beaches are relatively clean so we did some research and Poldhu came up as a strong contender as one that needed a bit helping hand.”

Ben added that the PSED module is “all about employability skills, so it’s a great element of the course as we got to work with the community and professional organisations”.

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