"WELLINGTON, New Zealand — 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."