TREASURE ISLAND, Fla. — An environmental mission that began in Texas has reached the Bay Area. People on beaches across the Gulf Coast have been searching for small pieces of plastic called nurdles. They’re used to manufacture plastic products.

  • Nurdles are small pieces of plastic used to manufacture plastic products
  • Millions of nurdles believed to have spilled in Texas
  • People across the Gulf Coast are now searching for them
  • Two have been found in Pinellas County
  • SEE BELOW: Tips on searching for nurdles

In September, it’s believed millions of nurdles were spilled in Texas. People have been picking them up off beaches there, and documenting where they find them. 

Now, people all along the gulf coast are searching and so far only two have been found in Florida. 

A few weeks ago, Maya Burke, the Science Policy Coordinator with the Tampa Bay Estuary Program, found them near the Sunshine Skyway Bridge. She says they are harmful for the environment, as is any plastic.

“It’s exciting when you find something that’s the first documented, but I didn’t want to find any here,” said Burke. 

She says the nurdles she found are the only ones that have washed up on a Florida beach. She hopes it stays that way, but encourages people to head out searching for them.

“If nothing else, it gets folks out and involved and when you’re out, you can’t help but notice not just nurdles but other kinds of plastic pollution,” said Burke. She went on to say, “When they’re out there and they end up finding other types of plastic pollution like straws, bags, or cigarette butts, the more they can do to get that stuff out of environment is great for our bay and our beaches.”

Spectrum Bay News 9 Reporter Jorja Roman spent 30 minutes searching in Treasure Island, and while she didn't find any nurdles, she found plastic and litter along the beach. 

"It's certainly something that we're needing to address as a society and if nurdles is what helps us to do that, then I'm all for that,” said Burke.


Here are some tips if you want to head out in search of nurdles:


  • Begin at the water line.
  • Nurdles float, so they’re usually found at the high tide line.
  • Check in any sea grass that’s washed up on the beach.
  • If you believe you’ve found a nurdle, squeeze it. They are hard and will not squish.
  • Take a picture of any nurdles you find and post them to the Nurdle Patrol Facebook Page.
  • It’s best to spend about 10 minutes looking.
  • When documenting nurdles, include a picture, how long you looked, and the location where you found them.
  • If you don’t find any nurdles but you conducted a search, post that information as well.