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The World’s Most Polluted Island Is also One of the Most Remote
By Ian Bongso-Seldrup, May 16, 2017 @ 07:00 AM (EST)
Source: Live Science


According to a new study, Henderson Island in the South Pacific Ocean, one of the most remote islands on the planet, is also the most polluted—with plastic debris that is. The finding is particularly disturbing given that the island is a World Heritage Site described by UNESCO as “one of the few atolls in the world whose ecology has been practically untouched by a human presence.”

Visited only five to 10 years by scientists, the isolated island’s beaches have become dumping grounds for the plastic trash that starts life in South America and accumulates in the center of the South Pacific Gyre—near to where Henderson Island is situated. Shockingly, the new research estimates that 37.7 million pieces of plastic—or 17 tons of plastic garbage—are strewn across the island’s beaches. That’s 62 pieces of debris per square foot—the densest plastic pollution anywhere on Earth.

“Far from being the pristine ‘deserted island’ that people might imagine of such a remote place,” says lead author Jennifer Lavers, from the University of Tasmania’s Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies, “Henderson Island is a shocking but typical example of how plastic debris is affecting the environment on a global scale.”

The plastic trash presents a huge threat to the island’s many animal species, including huge colonies of seabirds, which inadvertently ingest the debris or become entangled in it.

Read more here.

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