Henderson Island: The most polluted island in the Pacific?

Toy soldiers, dominos, toothbrushes, fishing equipment and even hundreds of hardhats of every shape, size and color have overrun a small, uninhabited island in the middle of the South Pacific Ocean thanks to the 'significant quantities of plastic in our ocean' according to a new research article from Australia's University of Tasmania. 

The researchers who traveled to the small island halfway between Chile and New Zealand were astonished to see the collection lying among the sandy beaches. The report says the density of trash is unlike anywhere else in the world. 

But, why? Where does all this trash come from?

Jennifer Lavers, a research scientist from Australia's University of Tasmania, says Henderson Island is in the middle of the a vortex of ocean currents known as the South Pacific gyre - which captures and holds all the floating trash dumped by vessels, and left on beaches from across the world. 

The report, published in the Proceedings of Natural Sciences on Tuesday, said their research demonstrated a minimum estimate of 37.7 million pieces of plastic debris weighing in at 17.6 tons. The report warns that this estimate is likely lower than what is actually there, since researchers were not able to count any plastic that has been buried by the tides and sand. 

Because plastic does not degrade naturally in the environment, researchers were able to identify much of the trash located on the island. More than 27% of the items came from South America, while fishing related items also made up much of the trash. 

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