A “nurdle” sounds like a character from a children’s TV show. And if you look at one, it seems just about as harmless. But these tiny plastic beads can cause big problems for marine life.
“Nurdle” is a nickname for plastic pellets that are no more than five millimeters across -- the thickness of a stack of three U.S. quarters. The pellets are the raw materials for making larger plastic items, from toothbrushes to cellphone cases to car parts.
Anyone who has tried to hitch a ride on a moving train knows it’s all about getting a really good grip. This is exactly what remoras piggybacking on larger fish need to do. Now scientists understand a little better how they do it.