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Exceptional and rapid accumulation of anthropogenic debris on one of the world's most remote and pristine islands


Lavers, JL and Bond, AL, Exceptional and rapid accumulation of anthropogenic debris on one of the world's most remote and pristine islands, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 114, (23) pp. 6052-6055. ISSN 0027-8424 (2017) [Refereed Article]


Copyright Statement

Copyright 2017 PNAS

DOI: doi:10.1073/pnas.1619818114


In just over half a century plastic products have revolutionized human society and have infiltrated terrestrial and marine environments in every corner of the globe. The hazard plastic debris poses to biodiversity is well established, but mitigation and planning are often hampered by a lack of quantitative data on accumulation patterns. Here we document the amount of debris and rate of accumulation on Henderson Island, a remote, uninhabited island in the South Pacific. The density of debris was the highest reported anywhere in the world, up to 671.6 items/m2 (mean ± SD: 239.4 ± 347.3 items/m2) on the surface of the beaches. Approximately 68% of debris (up to 4,496.9 pieces/m2) on the beach was buried <10 cm in the sediment. An estimated 37.7 million debris items weighing a total of 17.6 tons are currently present on Henderson, with up to 26.8 new items/m accumulating daily. Rarely visited by humans, Henderson Island and other remote islands may be sinks for some of the world’s increasing volume of waste.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:marine debris, plastic pollution, remote island, South Pacific, Henderson Island, Pitcairn Island Group, South Pacific Gyre
Research Division:Environmental Sciences
Research Group:Environmental management
Research Field:Conservation and biodiversity
Objective Division:Environmental Policy, Climate Change and Natural Hazards
Objective Group:Environmental policy, legislation and standards
Objective Field:Consumption patterns, population issues and the environment
UTAS Author:Lavers, JL (Dr Jennifer Lavers)
ID Code:116659
Year Published:2017
Web of Science® Times Cited:253
Deposited By:Ecology and Biodiversity
Deposited On:2017-05-16
Last Modified:2018-05-28
Downloads:47 View Download Statistics

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