World's Most Remote Island Polluted With 37 Million Pieces of Plastic

By KM Diaz, | May 17, 2017

Henderson Island is polluted with approximately 37.7 million pieces of plastic. (YouTube)

Henderson Island is polluted with approximately 37.7 million pieces of plastic. (YouTube)

The beaches of one of the world's remote island have been found to be polluted with almost 37 million pieces of plastic, according to a study published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Even though the island remains uninhabited, located 5000 kilometers away from the major population center, Henderson Island, which is a part of UK's Pitcairn Islands territory, has been polluted with approximately 37.7 million pieces of plastic.

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The island is considered to be isolated as it was only visited every five to ten years for research purposes. However, because it is located near the center of the South Pacific Gyre, the flow of the ocean makes it as a focal point for debris from South America and waste from fishing boats.

In the new study, Dr. Jennifer Lavers, the lead author of the research, found that the beaches on the island are littered with more than 671 plastics per square meter, the first ever highest density recorded. Dr. Lavers said that the findings show that there is no escaping when it comes to plastic pollution, even from the most remote island and distant parts of the oceans.

The research team observed five sites. Based on their sampling, about 17 tons of plastic debris was stored on the island, and more than 3570 new pieces of plastics are deposited every day on one beach alone.

The majority of the 300 million tons of plastic produced each year are not recycled, and since plastics are often weightless and durable, they have a long-term impact on the ocean, Dr. Lavers noted.

Plastic waste is dangerous to many species. Researchers say that more than 200 animal species are at risk of eating plastic. About 55 percent of the world's seabirds - two species are from Henderson Island - are at risk due to marine debris.

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