SA beaches

Plastic pellets on SA beaches set to leave numerous animals dead

These SA beaches are being inundated with washed up pieces of plastic. As a result, the local animals are set to suffer and even lose their lives.

SA beaches

Employees from the SA Association for Marine Biological Research have been left frantically cleaning harmful plastic pellets that have washed up on KZN and Eastern Cape beaches.

TimesLIVE spoke to various environmental organisations who have labelled the plastic pellets “An ecological disaster and an environmental emergency”. The pellets are known as “nurdles” and have been washing up on KZN beaches over the past two weeks.

The pellets have spread fast and have also made their way to the Eastern Cape and Richards Bay.

Ushaka Seaworld’s director of education, Jone Porter, said the distance spread makes them even more devastating.

“We know they have reached Mbotyi in Eastern Cape. They have reached Richards Bay‚ and we are predicting they will go further north.”

A container of nurdles is believed to have fallen off a ship during the storm in KZN in early October. The Department of Environmental affairs has been referred to the issue.

“It is not merely a provincial problem. It is now of national concern‚” said Porter. “Currently the nurdles are floating on the tide. They look just like food and are being eaten by birds‚ fish and turtles. These animals will face digestive obstructions.”

“In the long term‚ the effect will be far more shocking. If these plastic pellets stay in the sea‚ they will break down into even smaller bits‚ and absorb toxins. These will be ingested by even more marine creatures‚ many of which end up on our plates.”

Locals in the area have even been asked to make time on the weekend to go to a beach and gather as many of the pellets as possible.

“Each cup of nurdles the public removes form the beach means a few more animals that are not going to die‚” Porter said. “They are small‚ so they need to be strained. We suggest shadecloth or a sieve.”

Locals are encouraged to all head to and meet at their beaches on Sunday.