A study recently published in Nature Research [see reference below] indicates that, ‘… one of Australia’s most remote paradise Island chains and home to our best beach’, has been covered with 400 million pieces of waste.

 Jennifer Lavers from the Institute of Marine and Antarctic studies (IMAS) says that despite the community of the Cocos (Keeling) Islands being small, the soft beaches are “inundated with plastic”.

The study looked at the rubbish accumulation across 25 beaches on seven of the islands. Taking samples reaching from the water’s edge to the line of vegetation and up to 10 cm deep, and additional surveys inside the vegetation line, the researchers extrapolated their findings to the islands as a whole – and the numbers are staggering. They estimate that around 414 million pieces of plastic have been washed onto the soft beaches, accounting for over 95% of the rubbish discovered. According to Lavers, the plastics were largely single use products. More than 60% of the rubbish was micro-debris – small pieces of larger items measuring 2 to 5 mm across. Micro-debris poses a particular risk to fish and other marine wildlife. Disposable items such as food packaging, drink bottles, straws and toothbrushes made up close to 25% of the waste.

Terrifyingly visible waste may just be the tip of the iceberg. The researchers estimate there may be nearly 314 million rubbish items buried 1 to 10 cm underground – significantly more rubbish than the 12.8 million items visible on the surface.

 The buried waste creates a further problem as it can’t be removed without creating major disturbance to the environment. This, in turn, would impact the local wildlife even more.

 Source:   https://australiascience.tv/plastic-waste-has-trashed-one-of-australias-most-remote-islands/

Credit: Australia’s Science Channel: last updated May 21, 2019.

Note:  The South Australia government, along with others, is seeking ways to curb the use of single use plastics.  Consumers SA has commented on the government’s discussion paper on this issue {see the 13 March article posted below].

As this latest article shows, this is an area which is greatly concerning for all dwellers on the planet.

AuthorRay Dennis