Henderson Island is a tiny landmass in the middle of eastern South Pacific.
It is uninhabited, merely a rock in the ocean, a coral atoll far away from any populated areas.
Yet, a recent expedition found that Henderson Island has been turned into a sort of ocean dump covered in almost 18 tons of plastic waste.
Scientist believe that no less than 38m individual pieces of plastic litter every corner of the island. A large percentage of this amount is buried in the subsoil.
Henderson Island is part of the Pitcairn Island group. It is also listed as a Unesco World Heritage Listed site, and due to its remoteness, it was believed that the ecosystem would remain mostly untouched by human activity.
Despite this, the sight was one far removed from an idyllic paradise island with long, sandy beaches and azure waters.
The level of plastic pollution in the world’s oceans has been steadily rising over the last decade, and the recent discovery at Henderson Island is only a sign that it’s getting worse.
Depending on its composition, plastic material can take up to 1,000 years to completely degrade. Thus, most of the plastic ever made is still present on the planet, and will be around after many generations have come and gone.
There are environmental concerns that plastic pollution will soon reach intolerable levels, and places prior considered ‘safe’ from human activity may not be so, after all. Last February, underwater research found staggering levels of pollution in the 10km-deep Mariana Trench, for instance.