Garbage Island: Deserted South Pacific Island Littered With More Than 37 Million Plastic Pieces

The growing problem of pollution is a risk to not just mankind, but to the natural world as well. A new survey reveals that even places that are located away from human settlement are impacted by the growing pollution.


Latest study shares that Henderson Island, which is located in the South Pacific and is roughly 3,000 miles away from any human settlement, has the highest plastic debris density recorded at any single location on our planet.

Henderson Island’s Plastic Pollution

Although the island is uninhabited and rarely visited by humans, it is home to 37,661,395 plastic pieces. The island is so isolated that humans visit it once every 5 or 10 years to carry out important research.

The island’s position is near the center of the South Pacific Gyre current, which makes it easier to accumulate debris coming from South America or deposited by fishing boats.

IMAS researcher and study lead Jennifer Lavers discovered roughly 671 plastic items littering per square meter of the Island’s beaches. This is the highest recorded density of plastic pollution in history.

Lavers stated that the island is far from the clean and pure location that people believe it to be. Instead, pollution is marring its natural beauty.

Further analysis suggested that 17 tons of plastic were deposited on the island, with 3,570 new items coming in each day. Lavers said that even this figure may be lesser than what the real number may be.

The Impacts Of Such Pollution

Lavers revealed that nearly 300 million tons of plastic each year are never recycled. This plastic is disposed of in certain water bodies. These pollutants then make their way to the oceans and from there reach even distant corners of the world such as Henderson Island.

The researchers claim that the plastic debris poses a health risk to animals and plants. It also causes barriers which greatly reduce biodiversity in a region.

“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.

The UNESCO categorizes Henderson Island as Outstanding Universal Value since it is home to four endemic species of land birds, seabirds, and also a variety of different plants.

The study’s findings have been published in the journal of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

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