‘Truly shocking’ plastic pollution washed ashore at Kimmeridge Bay

A large amount of plastic pellets known as nurdles have recently been washing onto the beach at Kimmeridge in Dorset and posing a real threat to marine wildlife.

Visitors and staff at Dorset Wildlife Trust’s Wild Seas Centre at the bay have been spotting these white nurdles along the shoreline in increasing numbers over the last few days.

Nurdles on Kimmeridge Bay
Dorset Wildlife Trust

The white nurdles at Kimmeridge

Regularly spilled from container ships into the sea

Nurdles are the form of raw plastic that is transported to factories around the world to be moulded into a number of plastic products – anything from plastic bottles and bags to window frames and sunglasses.

They are regularly spilled from container ships into the sea or escape from factories when they are washed down drains.

Dorset Wildlife Trust says that nurdles are not harmless plastic beads but instead are a danger to marine wildlife. Often eaten by fish and birds, they accumulate in their stomachs causing feeding and digestion problems which can be fatal.

Nurdles appearing in Kimmeridge Bay is not new, indeed the Wild Seas Centre has a ‘nurdle o’meter’ to monitor the number, but the sudden arrival of so many has surprised staff.

Nurdles on Kimmeridge Bay
Dorset Wildlife Trust

People are picking up handfuls of the nurdles from the beach

“Number of nurdles… has been truly shocking”

Wild Seas Centre officer, Julie Hatcher said:

“For many years, we have encouraged visitors to hunt for nurdles and hand pick them from the beach to help protect the important beach and shoreline wildlife. However, the number of nurdles currently on the beach has been truly shocking.

“We don’t know where they have come from, but many people are collecting handfuls of them and bringing them to us for disposal.”

Dorset Wildlife Trust says that apart from collecting and removing these tiny plastic pellets from beaches, people can take action against this type of pollution by avoiding single-use plastic and excessive packaging and by choosing items made from natural materials wherever possible.

Officials carry on with the major clean up at Arne on Sunday 2nd April

The removal of contamination in Poole Harbour progresses

Poole Harbour oil spill clean up continues

Further along the coast at Poole Harbour, the clean up operation from the oil company Perenco UK’s oil spill continues and due to the progress made, the advice not to swim in the harbour or at Studland Bay has been lifted.

Chief executive officer of Poole Harbour Commissioners Jim Stewart, who is coordinating the emergency response, said:

“People are able to once again use the beaches and water in the Poole Harbour area for recreational use. This includes swimming, bathing and watersports.

“Pets are now safe to walk near the water in the Poole Harbour area. The public are however requested to stay clear from Ower Bay…”

“In the Dorset Council area, signage is being removed from the Studland beaches, Knoll Beach, South Beach, Ferry Road and Shell Bay that previously advised visitors not to swim in those areas until further notice.”

Do not swim sign at Knoll Beach

Do not swim signs at Knoll Beach in Studland have now been removed in time for the Easter holidays

Oily water and contaminated beach material removed

On Sunday 26th March 2023 an underground pipeline from Wytch Farm oil field released an estimated 200 barrels of reservoir fluid, a mixture of 85 percent water and 15 percent crude oil into Ower Bay which is part of Poole Harbour.

According to Poole Harbour Commissioners, by Tuesday 4th April 2023, an estimated 160,000 litres of oily water and more than six tons of contaminated beach material had been removed from Ower Bay.

There are fears from wildlife charities that the oil ingested by birds may start to cause fatalities in the weeks to come.

Further information

  • More about Dorset Wildlife Trust is on its website

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