The Uninhabited Garbage Island in the South Pacific

Kamie Berry | June 2nd, 2017

In 2015, a group of researchers traveled to Henderson Island, a small atoll in the South Pacific. This uninhabited island, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, had been remarkable because its pristine beauty had been largely unaffected by humans.

What the scientists found when they visited Henderson has proved that humanity’s capacity for destroying the environment is almost unlimited. Instead of the undisturbed ecosystems they were used to studying, they encountered an estimated 38 million pieces of trash washed up on its shores.

As expected, the mess was negatively affecting the many animals that live on the island. For example, they found a sea turtle that had become entangled in a fishing net and died. They also found crabs living in various plastic containers.

According to the researchers who analyzed the piles of garbage, the vast majority of the trash was made of plastic. They found old containers, plastic toys, and even hundreds of hardhats. The most common items were toothbrushes and cigarette lighters. Altogether, they estimate that the total weight of all the trash on Henderson Island is about 1.76 tons, with most of it being buried underneath beach sand.

What makes this accumulation of garbage so extraordinary is that it is all from human activity that is thousands of miles away from the island. The nearest inhabited landmass to Henderson is Pitcairn Island, but it is home to only 40 or so people. There is no way that so few people caused the massive trash pile on their own. The nearest major population center to Henderson is over 3000 miles away, so most of the garbage must have traveled at least that far. In fact, the scientists identified pieces of trash from as far away as Europe and the United States.

The reason for the pileup of debris is Henderson’s geographical location. The island sits on the western edge of the South Pacific Gyre, a circular system of ocean currents. These currents pushed the garbage onto Henderson.

Unfortunately, Henderson’s trash problem is only the tip of the iceberg. Despite its size, the trash piles are only a fraction of the plastic that remains in the world’s oceans. Plastic in the oceans never biodegrades, so it stays there forever, harming sea creatures, birds, and, eventually, people.

As of now, there are no plans to remove all the garbage from Henderson Island. The task would be too difficult, and more garbage would find its way there anyway. It is estimated that 3500 new pieces of trash wash up on the island’s shores daily. The only solution is to slow the flow of plastic garbage by using less of it in the first place.

Next Article
  • Giant Artificial Glaciers Growing In The Desert

    One smart engineer from a small remote village in Indian has put his engineering skills to the test and decided to counter-effect the problems being caused by global warming. A global and immense problem for one engineer to tackle, but Sonam Wangchuk is up for the fight. His solution is very simple, create artificial glaciers...

    Read More
  • The Flower That Will Kill You With A Smile

    When one hears the phrase satanic grin, you may think of the DC Comics The Joker’s laugh as he executes a deadly plan. That sardonic grin is well known across the whole world, a grin that comes hand in hand with death. The corners of your mouth go up really far on each side and...

    Read More
  • The Deadly Dynamite Tree

    There is actually a tree that exists covered in poisonous spikes which is capable of dropping exploding dynamite fruit on your head. And to make matters worse the explosions launches spikes & seeds to launch out into the air at over 150 miles per hour, sending them a good 100 feet. ...

    Read More
  • Two Chinese Woman Jump Off A Bridge To Decide True Love

    A young man was put to the test and found himself facing a very difficult situation, his current girlfriend and ex-girlfriend jumped off a bridge to find out who he would save. To say he was confused that two grown women had thrown themselves into a river would be an understatement, but that is what...

    Read More
  • The Raptor Of The Skies That Views Humans As Prey

    For most people living in the western world or any relatively urban area, being eaten by an animal sounds like a story you would only read about in Africa. It sounds like a story that would only happen in a horror tale or during a fantasy story. But not so long ago, being eaten by...

    Read More
  • The Australian Bushranger Who Was A Master Prison Escapist

    One Australian bushranger by the name of Joseph Johns had a very interesting talent: no cell or prison could hold him. In fact, he escaped from prison on so many occasions the authorities became frustrated and built him a special cell that was tailored to keep him inside. The governor even came and checked the...

    Read More
  • Romania Home To The Living And Growing Rocks

    These mysterious rocks that appear to be living entities in Romania continue to grow & grow, defying all the odds and confusing biologists around the world. They really do appear to be something that is impossible: stones that move and grow. Locals refer to them as Trovants and they have confused experts all around the...

    Read More
  • Chuuk Lagoon The Biggest Underwater Graveyard

    If you happen to like diving with wrecks and skeletons then you may want to check out Chuuk Lagoon on your next trip. Previously known as Truk Lagoon, this was a main Japanese naval base during the Second World War. It was home to a huge portion of the Japanese fleet and was their main...

    Read More