Some 414 million pieces of plastic, including one million shoes and over 370,000 toothbrushes, were found washed ashore on the remote Cocos (Keeling) Islands in the Indian Ocean, a new research has revealed.
The study, which was published in the journal Scientific Reports on Thursday, found that the Australian territory was littered with 238 tonnes of plastic, despite being home to around 500 people, reports CNN.
The group of mostly uninhabited 27 islands — which are 2,750 km from Perth — are marketed to tourists as “Australia’s last unspoilt paradise”.
Much of the rubbish was single-use consumer items such as bottle caps, straws, shoes and sandals, University of Tasmania marine eco-toxicologist Jennifer Lavers, who led the study, said.
“Plastic pollution is now ubiquitous in our oceans, and remote islands are an ideal place to get an objective view of the volume of plastic debris now circling the globe,” Lavers said in a statement.
Lavers said that the estimate of 414 million pieces was “conservative” as they had only sampled down to a depth of 10 cm, and could not access some beaches that were known as debris “hotspots”.
In 2017, Lavers revealed research that showed remote Henderson Island in the South Pacific Ocean had the highest density of plastic debris reported anywhere in the world.
Cocos (Keeling) Islands had a lower density of plastic than Henderson Island, but the total volume was higher than Henderson Island’s 38 million pieces which weighed 17 tonnes.