MARINE PLASTICS

Plastic Pollution – 37,000,000 Pieces of Trash on the Most Isolated Island on Earth

A desert island in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. What scenery can you imagine on such an island? You might come up with the images of the last paradise surrounded by an untainted ocean, far away from the bustle of a metropolitan city.

However, a research team from the University of Tasmania has reported that even on Henderson Island, an isolated desert island in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, the seashore is nothing but piles of plastic debris(Lavers & Bond 2017).

Although this desert island is located more than 5,000 km away from the closest big city, more than 37,700,000 pieces of plastic waste are estimated to be scatterd along its beaches.

Henderson Island belongs to the Pitcairn Islands, a British territory, and is basically a desert island where people visit once in 5 to 10 years and only for research purposes.

Because this island is also located in the middle of the currents of the South Pacific Gyre, the debris that is carried away from South America or discarded by fishing boats gather here.

The research team from the University of Tasmania who visited this island found an average of 671 pieces of plastic debris on 1 ㎡ of beach.

The fact that this is happening on such a remote desert island tells us that even the farthest island on Earth cannot escape plastic pollution.

According to this research, it is estimated that more than 17.6 tons of plastic debris have so far been washed ashore on this island, and more that 3,570 pieces of debris are tossed up onto only one of the beaches every day.

Furthermore, the team members consider these numbers to be far less than the actual values.

This is because they only counted pieces of debris bigger than 2mm and excluded microplastics. Furthermore, they dug only 10cm deep into the beach sand. More plastics are likely to be hidden in deeper areas.

Also, the research team only examined the beach and could not reach the cliffs and rocky areas of the same coastline. It is obvious that more plastic debris will have actually drifted onto the shore. It is sad, but there is no part of the ocean that has not been seriously affected by plastic debris.

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