Mermaid Tears are Real

Photo of woman with blue mermaid tail
So what happens when a mermaid cries?

Truth? “Mermaid tears” are not as magical as they sound. So what are they? Small plastic pellets that look like this:

Plastic pellets in hands
They may look pretty. But they are not.

These tiny little plastic balls are basically the building blocks for nearly all plastic products—soft drink bottles, computer keyboards, car components, television sets, and the list goes on. If it’s made of plastic, these little lentil-sized pellets were probably used in making it.

While doing some research on ocean life for a project I’m working on, I learned that these mermaid tears, also known as “nurdles”, are filling our seas and killing marine creatures around the world.

So, no. Mermaid tears are not magical. And “nurdles” are not nearly as adorable as they sound either.

And yes, I’m being a total downer right now. Sorry. But also not sorry because it’s important to be aware of this stuff.

Billions and billions and billions and billions (okay, you get the point) of nurdles are ending up in our oceans due to spills or mishandling. Once in the water, they absorb toxic chemicals, and then marine animals mistake them for food.

There’s more to the story, of course. And unfortunately, more damage being done by these nurdles than I’m mentioning here. They are, without a doubt, a major source of plastic pollution on our planet.

Thankfully, experts are on the case—and on the nurdle hunt! Organizations around the world, like Fidra, are working to reduce plastic pollution from these nasty little pellets. Non-experts (myself included) can also help by organizing nurdle hunts or joining a shoreline cleanup.