Montañita has held workshops focused on looking after the beaches in Ecuador.

MONTAÑITA |  The city of Montañita and the Mingas organisation for the sea have held workshops focused on looking after the beaches in Ecuador. Students from the state university of Quevedo participated in the workshops. This project aims to educate the community on the amount of rubbish that is found on beaches in Ecuador and generate a change of awareness in which we understand how the pollution of our beaches affect so that we take responsibility for this problem.

MONTAnITAIn February, we participated in the first “Great Global Nurdle Hunt” organised by the Scottish NGO, Fidra. 352 searches for plastic pellets were carried out over 9 days (from 8th to 17th February 2019), in 32 countries, on the 7 continents; in which 1,200 volunteers from 75 organisations, community groups and companies participated.

The main objective of the event was to highlight that there is a marine pollution problem due to the presence of nurdles, whose scope is global and urgent action is required by governments and the plastic industry to be solved from the source.

Mingas for the Sea was one of the organisations that joined in this global event coordinating two hunts for nurdles in our country. The first was on 9th February on La Lobería Beach, Salinas, province of Santa Elena and the second was on 17th February in Tortuga Bay, Santa Cruz, Galapagos. We found the following:

Nurdles (pellets) are small granules of plastic that are produced and used to make almost all of the plastic products we use. They contain a mixture of chemicals, can absorb the toxins present in the water and can be colonised by organisms indicating faecal contamination, such as Escherichia coli. It is estimated that 230,000 tonnes can be dumped into oceans all over the world each year. Once in the sea, the nurdles are difficult to eliminate, last for a long time and are fragmented, becoming even smaller micro-plastics. They are easily mistaken by many animals, so nurdles and their toxins can easily enter the food chain.

Nurdles are released into the environment when they are handled or transported inappropriately. This may occur at any stage of the supply and production chain: manufacture of plastic, land or maritime transportation and during the processing of the final products. They are small, lightweight and many of them float so when they reach bodies of water either directly or through drainage, they find their way into rivers and marshes, ending up in the sea.

La Lobería, Santa Elena 15 1 hora 1.168
Tortuga Bay, Galapagos 16 6 horas 9.073

Collaborators of Fidra, the NGO responsible for organising the event, were amazed by the number of nurdles found in Galapagos and published the following on the organisation’s blog: “Pollution from nurdles was seen in 28 out of 32 countries in which they were “hunted”, from the Gulf of Mexico to Abu Dhabi, from Ecuador to South Africa; the presence of nurdles was recorded in 84% of the searches. In 40% of them, more than 100 pellets were found; more than 1,000 nurdles were registered in 12.5% of them. Not even the pristine paradise of the Galapagos Islands, home to species observed by Darwin in 1835, which served as inspiration for his theory of evolution, escaped pollution from nurdles. During the hunt in Tortuga Bay in the Galapagos, more than 9,000 plastic pellets were found.”

The participation of so many volunteers from such varied organisations from around the word shows that there is growing concern for this situation and it cannot continue to be ignored by the powers that be. We trust that these citizen science initiatives will help the population in general and governments and the plastic industry in particular, to become aware and take action to resolve the problem from its source.