Marine Litter on Henderson Island (East Beach)

The above photo was taken by John Salmon on uninhabited Henderson Island in June, 1997. There is an astonishing amount of garbage washed up on the shores of this otherwise pristine environ.

A study of this problem was done by T.G. Benton and the abstract of his article, "From castaways to throwaways: marine litter in the Pitcairn Islands", Biological Journal of the Linnean Society (1995) 56:415-422, is given below:

Pollution of the oceans by garbage is a serious problem. Worldwide, as many as 8 million items of garbage may enter the seas on a daily basis. These items may survive some time, drifiting in the oceans and give rise to other environmental problems such as causing hazards to wildlife (through ingestion and entanglement) before being washed ashore. Surveys of beaches on Ducie and Oeno Atolls in the Pitcairn Islands were compared with a similar survey on a beach in SW Ireland. The three beaches were similar in the density and major categories of garbage to be found, but differed in subtle ways. For example, the Pacific beaches had a greater proportion of bottles and buoys, whereas the Irish beach had a greater proportion of sweet wrappers and polythene bags. Although these remote islands may be thousands of miles from industrial centres their beaches are apparently as dirty as those in Europe.

Three more photos from 1997:

20 years later there is even more trash >>>> New York Times, May 16, 2017: A Remote Pacific Island Awash in Tons of Trash.

Exceptional and rapid accumulation of anthropogenic debris on one of the world's most remote and pristine islands study by Jennifer L. Laversa and Alexander L. Bond published in PNAS, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

For more info see the Global Marine Litter Information Gateway.

Lynn Garry Salmon <>{

Last updated: January 29, 2020