An estimated 18 tonnes of plastic waste has been washed up on the island of Henderson, an uninhabited coral atoll that lies between New Zealand and Peru in the Pacific Ocean.
The remote island must be a flawless and perfect paradise because of its isolation, with 3,400 miles (5,500 km) of pure ocean in both directions.
In 1988 the island became a UNESCO World Heritage Site due to its remarkable biodiversity and long stretches of unspoilt sandy beaches.
Yet Henderson has some of the highest levels of man-made pollution found anywhere in the world.
The island once greeted an environmental jewel as one of the highest concentrations of plastic on the planet due to a strange confluence of geography and ocean currents.
No less than 38 million pieces of plastic junk on the island, and more are being washed up at a speed of up to 3500 pieces per day, and scientists have now warned that little can be done to save it while a disposable culture continues.
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Floating plastic waste has flooded a remote Pacific island that was once considered an ecological jewel and scientists say that little can be done to save it while a disposable culture continues
HENDERSON ISLAND: A PLASTIC PARADISE
The uninhabited island on the Pacific Ocean, thousands of miles away from civilization, has become the most polluted place on earth, with thousands of pieces of plastic waste washing up its shores.
The island, a territory of the United Kingdom, is a refuge for a large number of endangered species, including the Henderson Petrel and Henderson Crake, and the beaches are a breeding ground for the endangered green turtle.
But human activity has turned a pristine island paradise into a garbage dump.
More than 37 million pieces of plastic junk – weighing around 18 tons – have been washed ashore and threaten the nature of the island.
In total, every square meter of beach has hundreds of pieces of plastic – including toothbrushes, buoys, old fishing nets, plastic bags and cosmetic jars that have mostly been produced in recent decades and have been deposited by people thousands of miles away.
& # 39; We've found litter everywhere & # 39 ;, said Jennifer Lavers, an Australian-based researcher who led an expedition to the island last month.
& # 39; We had bottles and containers, all kinds of fishing equipment and it came from, well, you name it – Germany, Canada, the United States, Chile, Argentina, Ecuador.
& # 39; It was a real message that every country has a responsibility to protect the environment even in these remote areas. & # 39;
Henderson is located in the middle of the South Pacific, an enormous circular ocean current running counter-clockwise along the east coast of Australia and along the west coast of South America.
The gyre should be a blessing for the 10 kilometer by five piece of land, with rich nutrients in the waters around Henderson to feed huge colonies of seabirds.
& # 39; As one of the last nearly untouched limestone islands of considerable size in the world, Henderson Island retains its exceptional natural beauty with its white sandy beaches, limestone cliffs and rich and almost undisturbed vegetation, & # 39; it said.
Three decades after it gained its UNESCO status, the gyre has become a marine conveyor belt that dumps endless waves of plastic waste on Henderson's coast, making it the hub of what is known as the South Pacific Garbage Patch.
Floating plastic waste has flooded the remote Pacific island that was once considered a jewel for the environment and scientists say that little can be done to save it while our disposable culture continues
Despite its extreme isolation, a strange confluence of geography and ocean currents means that Henderson has one of the highest concentrations of plastic pollution on the planet
A member of the beachroom team that collects waste from a beach on Henderson Island. In 1988 the island became a UNESCO World Heritage Site due to the remarkable biodiversity and the vast unspoilt sandy beaches
Dr. Lavers led her first expedition there in 2015 and discovered on the Eastern beach of the island that there were around 700 items of plastic per square meter, one of the highest concentrations anywhere in the world.
Along with the problem, the swirling waves have reduced more than half of the waste to small particles that are almost invisible to the human eye.
This makes them even more difficult to clean up, but easily digested by wildlife such as birds and turtles.
Dr. Lavers organized a cleanup during her most recent trip to the island last month and her team collected six tons of plastic waste from the beach for two debilitating weeks.
They were unable to remove the waste because their ship could not find a safe berth on the rugged coastline, instead storing it above the tide line for future disposal.
Dr. Lavers admitted that the & # 39; heartbreaking & # 39; was to make such a huge attempt just to see more rubbish ashore where they had just cleaned.
The island once greeted an environmental jewel as one of the highest concentrations of plastic on the planet due to a strange confluence of geography and ocean currents. Here, a baby turtle on a plastic container on the beach
Henderson is located in the middle of the South Pacific, an enormous circular ocean current running counter-clockwise along the east coast of Australia and along the west coast of South America. Cleanup team members collect waste from a beach
Along with the problem, the swirling waves have reduced more than half of the waste to small particles that are almost invisible to the human eye. This makes them even more difficult to clean up, but easily digested by wildlife such as birds and turtles
Here, a pile of collected fish bouys. Three decades after it gained its status, the gyre has become a marine conveyor belt that dumps endless waves of plastic waste on the Henderson coast, making it the hub of what is known as the South Pacific Garbage Patch
& # 39; We would eat our lunch and see it supplemented in real time while things like buoys and pieces of string are washed on the beach, & # 39; she said.
The marine scientist, who plans further journeys to Henderson in 2020 and 2021, said the experience underlined that cleanup was not a long-term solution to the ocean's pollution crisis.
& # 39; It only speaks about the importance of turning off the tap at the source & # 39 ;, she said, and called for stricter restrictions for single-use plastics.
& # 39; There is so much debris in the oceans, we really have to do everything we can to prevent more going outside. & # 39;
WHAT DOES DEEP-SEA RECEIVE DEBRIS DATABASE ON OCEAN PLASTIC POLLUTION?
Plastic pollution is a pest that destroys the surface of our planet. Now the polluting polymer sinks to the bottom of the ocean.
The deepest part of the ocean is in the Mariana Trench, located in the western Pacific Ocean, east of the Mariana Islands. It extends to almost 36,000 feet (11,000 meters) below the surface.
One plastic bag was found 35,754 feet (10,898 meters) below the surface in this region, the deepest known piece of man-made pollution in the world. This single-use piece of plastic was found deeper than 33 Eiffel towers, with the tip laid to the base.
While plastic pollution is sinking rapidly, it is also spreading further to the middle of the oceans. A piece of plastic was found more than 620 miles (1000 km) from the nearest coast – that is beyond the length of France.
The Japan's Agency for Marine-Earth Science and Technology (Jamstec) launched the Global Oceanographic Data Center (Godac) for public use in March 2017.
This database contains the data of 5,010 different dives. Of all these different dives, 3,425 man-made rubble items were counted.
More than 33 percent of the rubble was macroplastic followed by metal (26 percent), rubber (1.8 percent), fishing equipment (1.7 percent), glass (1.4 percent), cloth / paper / wood (1.3 percent) and & # 39; other & # 39; anthropogenic products (35 percent).
It was also discovered that 89 percent of all waste found was designed for single use. This is defined as plastic bags, bottles and packaging. The deeper the research looked, the greater the amount of plastic they found.
Of all man-made items found deeper than 20,000 feet (6,000 meters), the ratios increased to 52 percent for macro-plastic and 92 percent for single-use plastic.
The direct damage that this has caused to the ecosystem and the environment can be clearly seen, as deep-sea organisms were observed in the 17 percent of the images of plastic waste taken by the study.
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