This is the most polluted island on the planet
No one lives on Henderson Island but its beaches are covered by about 38 million pieces of plastic
One of the most isolated islands in the world, located in the Pacific, accumulates the highest density of plastic waste on the planet, reveals a study that shows the magnitude of the pollution of the oceans by waste, which threatens marine ecosystems.
Although Henderson Island is deserted and over 5,000 kilometers of the first major urban center, its beaches are boarded up for about 38 million pieces of plastic, estimated the researchers whose work was published Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) USA.
Another study recently published in the journal Science Advances revealed that the ocean Arctic, also sparsely populated, is the final destination of plastic waste floating in the North Atlantic.
Henderson Island is one of four British Pitcairn Islands, with a total area of 47 km2. It is so isolated that it is hardly visited every five or ten years by scientific expeditions.
But it is close to the turning center of the South Pacific, a giant whirlwind where debris is carried by sea currents from South America or from ships.
During the most recent expedition to Henderson Island, conducted in 2015 by scientists at the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, a British NGO, the lead author of the study, Jennifer Lavers, counted up to 671 pieces of plastic per square meter in the Beaches.
This represents the highest residue density measured so far.
“Based on our samples taken from five sites, we have estimated that more than 17 tonnes of plastic waste have been deposited on the island and more than 3,570 new wastes are laid daily on only one of its beaches,” he said.
According to this researcher, “these calculations are likely to underestimate the magnitude of the accumulation of waste on this island.”
Lavers found hundreds of crabs living in the trash, such as bottle caps and cosmetic jars, and have seen one live inside the head of a wrist. In addition to fishing related items, toothbrushes, lighters, razor blades and hard plastic hats were found, among others.
“This plastic is old; it’s fragile, sharp, and toxic. It was really very tragic to see these magnificent crabs digging, living in our trash,” he told The Guardian newspaper. And he added: “No one is saved. We have found bottles from Germany, contenders from Canada and I think a fishing box from New Zealand.”
The largest island of the four island group of Pitcairn Island, Henderson Island is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.