mission-aransas national estuarine research reserve, university of texas

YEARS:

2019, 2020

LOCATION:

Port Aransas, TX

Mission-Aransas National Estuarine Research Reserve

Developing Nurdle Patrol: A Citizen Science Project

Ambassador Grant: ELIZABETH KRATZIG

The Mission-Aransas National Estuarine Research Reserve at the University of Texas Marine Science Institute has initiated a Gulf-wide Citizen Science Project to map plastic pellets (often called nurdles) around the Gulf of Mexico. Nurdles are small plastic pellets that are manufactured as the basis for all plastic products. This project is developing an interactive mapping website, NurdlePatrol.org, where volunteers collecting nurdles can add their data and see results in real-time. The site will also be a hub for plastic pellet pollution information with the ultimate goal of raising awareness of nurdle pollution to empower change at the state and federal level.

SCOPE

  • Develop an interactive mapping website where volunteers can share nurdle data to raise awareness and be used by state and federal agencies to help find the sources of plastic pellet pollution. 
  • Expand the existing grassroots citizen science program to monitor beaches along the Gulf of Mexico for nurdles that are used by manufacturers to make plastic goods.
  • Embark on a Nurdle Expedition across the Gulf of Mexico, giving presentations and encouraging local groups to conduct nurdle surveys in communities across Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Texas.
  • Collect data at beaches that have never been surveyed for plastic pellets to fill the data gaps and create a full picture of the concentrations of nurdles on beaches across the Gulf.
  • Create a video about the Nurdle Expedition, highlighting the importance of the nurdle issue, the experience of meeting with communities, and the impact citizen scientists are having on the decision making process with their data.

About the Mission-Aransas National Estuarine Research Reserve

Founded in 2006, The Mission-Aransas National Estuarine Research Reserve is managed by the University of Texas Marine Science Institute and located in Port Aransas, Texas. The Reserve’s mission is to bring together scientists, landowners, policy-makers, and the public to ensure that coastal management decisions benefit flora and fauna, water quality, and people.

Photo credit: University of Texas Marine Science Institute

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