One of the world’s most remote places has been turned into a garbage dump as thousands of pieces of plastic debris daily wash up on its shores, a new study revealed on Monday.
Henderson Island, the largest of the four islands of the Pitcairn Island group is located in the eastern South Pacific. The island, prized for its biodiversity, was named a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1988.
A report published on Monday by Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, a peer-reviewed US journal, found that the island contained an estimated 37.7 million items of debris together weighing 17.6 tonnes.
About 27 percent of the items were identified as being from South America, including beach equipment and fishing gear.
Since humans do not live there, the pollution on the island has also never been cleaned up. Plastic can harm fish, turtles and seabirds. Experts say hundreds of species are at risk from ingesting it.
A separate study out last month found that some seas in the Arctic are heavily polluted with plastic because of an Atlantic Ocean current which dumps debris there, particularly in the Greenland and Barents seas.
Experts say such findings underline the importance of properly managing plastic litter at its source, and preventing it from entering the ocean through storm drains or poor waste management practises.