Tuesday, May 16, 2017

37 million bits of plastic debris found on remote South Pacific island

It seems that there is really no place to escape plastic pollution.

A study, published Monday in the US journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, documented the accumulation of plastic debris on a remote South Pacific island, and was surprised to find that the density of debris there was "the highest reported anywhere in the world."

Despite being uninhabited and located more than 5,000 kilometers from the nearest major population centre, Henderson Island is littered with an estimated 37.7 million pieces of plastic debris, it said.

Part of the British Pitcairn Islands territory, the island is so remote that it's only visited every five to 10 years for research purposes, but its location near the center of the South Pacific Gyre ocean current makes it a focal point for debris carried from South America or deposited by fishing boats.

During the most recent scientific expedition to the island in 2015, led by the British nature conservation charity RSPB, the study's lead author, Jennifer Lavers of the University of Tasmania and colleagues, found that the beaches littered by up to 672 items per square meter, the highest density ever recorded.

It also revealed that up to 4,497 items per square meter were buried to a depth of 10 centimeters on the island's East and North beaches.

In total, the study estimated that more than 17 tons of plastic debris have been deposited on the island, with more than 3,570 new pieces of litter washing up each day on one beach alone.

"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 a statement.

"Far from being the pristine 'deserted island' 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."

Currently, most of the more than 300 million tons of plastic produced worldwide each year is not recycled, and as it's buoyant and durable it has a long-term impact on the ocean.

"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," Lavers said.

"Research has shown that more than 200 species are known to be at risk from eating plastic, and 55 percent of the world's seabirds, including two species found on Henderson Island, are at risk from marine debris," Lavers added.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Only News

EL News

Blog Widget by LinkWithin