Plastic pileup on remote South Pacific Island

A study documents the accumulation of debris on a South Pacific island. Plastic pollution has become ubiquitous across the world’s oceans, but the extent of marine plastic pollution remains relatively unknown. Jennifer Lavers and Alexander Bond documented the anthropogenic debris—99.8% of which was plastic—on Henderson Island, a remote, uninhabited South Pacific island, during a 2015 beach survey. The authors found approximately 21–672 pieces of debris per square meter on the beach. Approximately 53–4,497 items per square meter were buried to a depth of 10 cm, and buried debris accounted for approximately 68% of debris. The authors estimate the existence of 37.7 million pieces of plastic debris weighing a combined 17.6 tons on the island. The authors suggest that high frequencies of Asian and South American plastics may reflect fishing activities in surrounding waters and oceanic current patterns. According to the authors, uncovering the abundance, diversity, and sources of marine plastic could help mitigate plastic pollution. - Read at PNAS

Article #16-19818: “Exceptional and rapid accumulation of anthropogenic debris on one of the world’s most remote and pristine islands,” by Jennifer L. Lavers and Alexander Bond.