Scientists find 38 million pieces of trash on Pacific island - WOWK 13 Charleston, Huntington WV News, Weather, Sports

Scientists find 38 million pieces of trash on Pacific island

Posted: Updated:

By NICK PERRY
Associated Press

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) - When researchers traveled to a tiny, uninhabited island in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, they were astonished to find an estimated 38 million pieces of trash washed up on the beaches.

Almost all of the garbage they found on Henderson Island was made from plastic. There were toy soldiers, dominos, toothbrushes and hundreds of hardhats of every shape, size and color.

The researchers say the density of trash was the highest recorded anywhere in the world, despite Henderson Island's extreme remoteness. The island is located about halfway between New Zealand and Chile and is recognized as a UNESCO world heritage site.

Jennifer Lavers, a research scientist at Australia's University of Tasmania, was lead author of the report, which was published Tuesday in "Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences."

Lavers said Henderson Island is at the edge of a vortex of ocean currents known as the South Pacific gyre, which tends to capture and hold floating trash.

"The quantity of plastic there is truly alarming," Lavers told The Associated Press. "It's both beautiful and terrifying."

She said she sometimes found herself getting mesmerized by the variety and colors of the plastic that litters the island before the tragedy of it would sink in again.

Lavers and six others stayed on the island for 3½ months in 2015 while conducting the study. They found the trash weighed an estimated 17.6 tons and that more than two-thirds of it was buried in shallow sediment on the beaches.

Lavers said she noticed green toy soldiers that looked identical to those her brother played with as a child in the early 1980s, as well as red motels from the Monopoly board game.

She said the most common items they found were cigarette lighters and toothbrushes. One of the strangest was a baby pacifier.

She said they found a sea turtle that had died after getting caught in an abandoned fishing net and a crab that was living in a cosmetics container.

By clearing a part of a beach of trash and then watching new pieces accumulate, Lavers said they were able to estimate that more than 13,000 pieces of trash wash up every day on the island, which is about 10 kilometers (6 miles) long and 5 kilometers (3 miles) wide.

Henderson Island is part of the Pitcairn Islands group, a British dependency. It is so remote that Lavers said she missed her own wedding after the boat coming to collect the group was delayed.

Luckily, she said, the guests were still in Tahiti, in French Polynesia, when she showed up three days late, and she still got married.

Lavers said she is so appalled by the amount of plastic in the oceans that she has taken to using a bamboo iPhone case and toothbrush.

"We need to drastically rethink our relationship with plastic," she said. "It's something that's designed to last forever, but is often only used for a few fleeting moments and then tossed away."

Melissa Bowen, an oceanographer at the University of Auckland in New Zealand who was not involved in the study, said that winds and currents in the gyre cause the buildup of plastic items on places like Henderson Island.

"As we get more and more of these types of studies, it is bringing home the reality of plastic in the oceans," Bowen said.

Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

  • More NewsMore>>

  • As Storms Approach, Power Outages Begin To Amass

    As Storms Approach, Power Outages Begin To Amass

    Saturday, November 18 2017 10:20 PM EST2017-11-19 03:20:50 GMT

    As storms and high winds approach the viewing area, power outages are beginning to pile up. Here is a list of the hardest hit areas so far. Wayne County- 5,204  Lincoln County- 2,506 Kanawha County- 729 Putnam County- 513 Fayette County- 455 Cabell County- 406 Logan County- 395 Clay County- 100 We will continue to update the list throughout the night.

    As storms and high winds approach the viewing area, power outages are beginning to pile up. Here is a list of the hardest hit areas so far. Wayne County- 5,204  Lincoln County- 2,506 Kanawha County- 729 Putnam County- 513 Fayette County- 455 Cabell County- 406 Logan County- 395 Clay County- 100 We will continue to update the list throughout the night.

  • David Cassidy, "Partridge Family" Star, Hospitalized In Florida, Representative Says

    David Cassidy, "Partridge Family" Star, Hospitalized In Florida, Representative Says

    Saturday, November 18 2017 8:00 PM EST2017-11-19 01:00:17 GMT
    NEW YORK -- "Partridge Family" star David Cassidy has been hospitalized in Florida.  His publicist, JoAnn Geffen, told CBS News that Cassidy is "currently conscious and surrounded by family." TMZ first reported that Cassidy had been hospitalized due to organ failure. His brother, Shaun Cassidy, posted on Facebook that the messages of support "mean the world to all of us." The 67-year-old said earlier this year that he wa...
    NEW YORK -- "Partridge Family" star David Cassidy has been hospitalized in Florida.  His publicist, JoAnn Geffen, told CBS News that Cassidy is "currently conscious and surrounded by family." TMZ first reported that Cassidy had been hospitalized due to organ failure. His brother, Shaun Cassidy, posted on Facebook that the messages of support "mean the world to all of us." The 67-year-old said earlier this year that he wa...
  • ‘Cone Weed’ Gets Christmas Makeover In North Carolina Town

    ‘Cone Weed’ Gets Christmas Makeover In North Carolina Town

    Saturday, November 18 2017 1:57 PM EST2017-11-18 18:57:29 GMT
    HUNTERSVILLE, N.C. (AP) — At first, it was an orange traffic cone with a weed growing out of it. Now, the roadside attraction dubbed “Cone Weed” is something of a Christmas miracle to locals. WBTV reports someone decorated the “Cone Weed” with tinsel and ornaments last week. The weed has been growing unencumbered across from the Huntersville Fire Station for a year and has amassed a cult following. The fire station tweeted pictures of Cone Weed deck...
    HUNTERSVILLE, N.C. (AP) — At first, it was an orange traffic cone with a weed growing out of it. Now, the roadside attraction dubbed “Cone Weed” is something of a Christmas miracle to locals. WBTV reports someone decorated the “Cone Weed” with tinsel and ornaments last week. The weed has been growing unencumbered across from the Huntersville Fire Station for a year and has amassed a cult following. The fire station tweeted pictures of Cone Weed deck...
  • Most Popular StoriesMost Popular StoriesMore>>

  • Downed Power Line Has Traffic And Street Lights Off On Corridor G

    Downed Power Line Has Traffic And Street Lights Off On Corridor G

    Saturday, November 18 2017 10:04 PM EST2017-11-19 03:04:25 GMT
    A downed power pole on Corridor G near Fledderjohn Road has traffic and street lights out. A live power line is currently draped across Corridor G and has traffic shut down in both north and south bound lanes. AEP and law enforcement are currently on scene and in route to handle the situation. We have a crew in route and will bring you the latest information as it becomes available. 
    A downed power pole on Corridor G near Fledderjohn Road has traffic and street lights out. A live power line is currently draped across Corridor G and has traffic shut down in both north and south bound lanes. AEP and law enforcement are currently on scene and in route to handle the situation. We have a crew in route and will bring you the latest information as it becomes available. 
  • SLIDESHOW: 15 Arrested, 3 Wanted in Major West Virginia Heroin Trafficking Bust

    SLIDESHOW: 15 Arrested, 3 Wanted in Major West Virginia Heroin Trafficking Bust

    Friday, November 17 2017 8:27 PM EST2017-11-18 01:27:15 GMT
    West Virginia has worst overdose death rate in the nation.West Virginia has worst overdose death rate in the nation.

    PARKERSBURG, WV (WOWK) - The Parkersburg Narcotics Task Force (PNTF), with assistance from the FBI, concluded a year-long investigation involving the trafficking of heroin into the Wood County area. According to a release from the Parkersburg Police Department, at approximately 6 a.m. Friday, an operation to arrest 18 people involved in this investigation began. This operation was conducted in three states, Parkersburg, West Virginia, Marietta, Ohio, and Detroit, Michigan. As a res...

    PARKERSBURG, WV (WOWK) - The Parkersburg Narcotics Task Force (PNTF), with assistance from the FBI, concluded a year-long investigation involving the trafficking of heroin into the Wood County area. According to a release from the Parkersburg Police Department, at approximately 6 a.m. Friday, an operation to arrest 18 people involved in this investigation began. This operation was conducted in three states, Parkersburg, West Virginia, Marietta, Ohio, and Detroit, Michigan. As a res...

  • Man Found Dead Of Suspected Overdose At Marmet Kroger Identified

    Man Found Dead Of Suspected Overdose At Marmet Kroger Identified

    Saturday, November 18 2017 11:05 PM EST2017-11-19 04:05:33 GMT

    On November 17, 2017, at approximately 6:45 pm, Kanawha County Detectives were requested to assist the Marmet Police Department with investigating a suspicious death on the Kroger’s parking lot in Marmet. 

    On November 17, 2017, at approximately 6:45 pm, Kanawha County Detectives were requested to assist the Marmet Police Department with investigating a suspicious death on the Kroger’s parking lot in Marmet. 

Powered by Frankly