CONCERNS have been raised about the vast quantity of nurdles being found on Dorset beaches.

The small plastic pellets are melted together and used in industries to make nearly all of our plastic products.

A local dog walker reported that thousands of the nurdles, each about the size of a lentil, had been washed onto the beach at Weymouth during recent storms, while Dorset Wildlife Trust state that almost half a million have been discovered in Kimmeridge Bay.

"It's hard to describe, but it really is shocking to see these pellets completely littering the beach," says Julie Hatcher, marine awareness officer at Dorset Wildlife Trust. "Other than by hand, there is no safe way of removing the nurdles without damaging the wildlife, some of which is incredibly rare and only found on the shoreline."

With billions used each year, spills and mishandling means nurdles and other micro-plastics can easily escape into the environment, only to be swallowed by fish, crabs and lobsters who mistake the pellets for food. Nurdles also soak up toxins from their surroundings, accumulating in the tissues of the animals that ingest them.

"Nurdles are particularly dangerous for seabirds, who scoop them up from surface of the sea, not understanding that what consume isn't organic," Julie continues. "The impact on the population is devastating. Chicks are ending up with stomachs full of plastic."

Because of the durability of the material, nurdles are simply ground down and washed back out to sea. Unless they are physically removed, they will remain in the environment for hundreds of years.

Dorset Wildlife Trust is encouraging people to reconsider the products they buy, especially if they are made of or wrapped in plastic. Other ways to reduce the quantity of nurdles in the ocean is by using zero waste shops, refillable bottles and old containers.

Dorset Free Litter and Sea is also asking everyone, at any time of the year, to take part in a two-minute beach clean. There are 10 beach cleaning stations in Dorset, including Chesil Beach, Swanage and Studland, all of which provide bags and litter pickers.

Visit for more tips on protecting the environment and details of upcoming beach cleans.