Low densities of macroplastic debris in the Pitcairn Islands Marine Reserve

Date of publication 3 August 2020

Authors Ryan, Peter G.; Schofield, Andy.

Sources Marine pollution bulletin : 157,

DOILink https://doi.org/10.1016/j.marpolbul.2020.111373

Abstract

Beaches on Henderson Island, one of the Pitcairn Islands in the central South Pacific, have been reported to have some of the highest standing stocks of stranded plastic recorded. Surveys of floating debris at sea show that this is not related to high densities of plastic in the area. Only 19 macroplastic items were observed during 905 km of at-sea transects (0.5 items.km(-2); 135 g.km(-2)). This low density confirms previous microplastic surveys which show that the Pitcairn group lies west of the South Pacific Gyre. Plastic loads on beaches at other islands in the Pitcairn group are not exceptional. The east coast of Henderson Island appears to be particularly effective at accumulating drifting debris, but many small plastic fragments on these beaches probably result from degradation in situ, so removing macroplastics will reduce the formation of microplastics.

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