‘What’s happened on Henderson Island shows there’s no escaping plastic pollution even in the most distant parts of our oceans. Far from being the pristine ‘deserted island’ that people might imagine of such a remote place, Henderson Island is a shocking but typical example of how plastic debris is affecting the environment on a global scale.
‘Based on our sampling at five sites we estimated that more than 17 tonnes of plastic debris has been deposited on the island, with more than 3570 new pieces of litter washing up each day on one beach alone.
‘It’s likely that our data actually underestimates the true amount of debris on Henderson Island as we were only able to sample pieces bigger than two millimetres down to a depth of 10 centimetres, and we were unable to sample along cliffs and rocky coastline.’
DR JENNIFER LAVERS
Lead author and IMAS researcher
Dr Lavers said most of the more than 300 million tonnes of plastic produced worldwide each year is not recycled, and as it’s buoyant and durable it has a long-term impact on the ocean.
She added that plastic debris is an entanglement and ingestion hazard for many species, creates a physical barrier on beaches to animals such as sea turtles and lowers the diversity of shoreline invertebrates.