Tons of plastic cover pristine beaches on remote Pacific Island,

In Science
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Millions of pieces of colorful plastic cover the once pristine beaches on a remote South Pacific island.

Scientists were astonished when they visited tiny, uninhabited, located between New Zealand and Chile, and found 38 million pieces of garbage, mostly plastic, strewn along the sandy shores.

During the recent scientific expedition to the island, which researchers visit only every five to 10 years, they measured the  per square meter ever recorded.

The report on the expedition was published this week in the .

Lead author, Jennifer Lavers, is a research scientist at the  in Australia.


The huge volume of garbage littering the beaches on remote and uninhabited Henderson Island is mostly plastic. A photo here shows an example of the piles of plastic trash on the island. Scientists say Henderson is the most polluted place on Earth.
Jennifer Lavers

“What’s happened on Henderson Island shows there’s no escaping plastic pollution even in the most distant parts of our oceans,” Lavers said in an article on the .

“Far from being the  that people might imagine of such a remote place, Henderson Island is a shocking, but typical example of how plastic debris is affecting the environment on a global scale,” she said.

on the beaches of Henderson, because it is located in the center of what’s called the South Pacific Gyre, a vortex of ocean currents that carry debris from South America and garbage thrown overboard from fishing boats, Lavers explained.

Lavers estimated more than 3,500 pieces of trash wash up on the island every day.

“Plastic debris is an entanglement and ingestion hazard for many species, creates a physical barrier on beaches to animals such as sea turtles, and lowers the diversity of shoreline invertebrates,” she said.

More than 200 species are known to be at risk from eating plastic and more than half of the world’s seabirds are at risk from , according to scientists.



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