A group of Lothian mums are calling on Edinburgh residents to help them cut plastic pollution on Firth of Forth beaches.
The campaigners hope to rid local beaches of thousands and thousands of tiny, innocuous looking plastic pellets called 'nurdles', which are used as a feedstock in the plastics industry.
Although the pellets can be hard to spot, they present serious risks to wildlife, as animals often eat them thinking that they are food.
The tiny bits of plastic also attract and concentrate other persistent toxic pollutants found in seawater.
These plastic pellets were all found in the stomach of one seabird.
The group claims an analysis of nurdles collected on beaches along the Forth show high levels of these toxins.
Now, in a bid to work out which Firth of Forth beaches are most affected by the problem, people living in Edinburgh are being urged to join The Great Nurdle Hunt.
North Berwick resident Cathy Sexton is one of the Mum’s behind the project.
She explained: “The Great Nurdle Hunt is a way of finding out the extent of the nurdle problem on beaches around the Forth, and which beaches are most affected by this form of pollution.
“I’m particularly keen for Edinburgh people to help us keep an eye on the coastline between South Queensferry, Cramond and Portobello.
“We have set up a website which explains what to look for and how to do your own nurdle hunt safely. You can use the website to share your findings and check out our interactive map to see what other people have discovered.
Nurdle hunting is really addictive, anyone can do it, and you really will be contributing to our collective efforts to document and reduce nurdle pollution into the Forth”.
These nurdles were found on a beach near Edinburgh
Ultimately, the group aims to use the information gathered to pressure shipping companies to improve the way they handle the tiny plastic pellets.
According to the group’s research, just two of the thirty companies that regularly ship the plastic pellets in the Firth of Forth have signed up to the Clean Sweep industry scheme that could help cut the levels of plastic pollution on local beaches.
The Nurdle Hunt has already won the backing of a series of other larger environmental groups including Fauna & Flora International, the Marine Conservation Society, RSPB, Keep Scotland Beautiful and the Scottish Seabird Centre.
Cathy Sexton, Mum and nurdle expert
If you’d like to find out more, Cathy Sexton will be promoting the Great Nurdle Hunt at the Scottish Seabird Centre in North Berwick, at 2pm on Sunday May 24, as part of the first ever Puffin Festival.