The abundance, composition, and potential sources of marine debris were investigated on remote Alphonse Island, during the austral winter 2013. A total of 4743 items, weighing 142 kg, were removed from 1 km of windward beach, facing the prevailing southeasterly trade winds. Our study demonstrates the prevalence of plastic debris as a world-wide marine contaminant. Characteristics of the debris suggest it originated primarily from land-based sources. To determine their potential geographic sources we used the Surface Current from Diagnostic model of near-surface ocean currents, forced by satellite sea level and wind data. While preliminary evidence indicated the Southeast Asia to be the main source of the flotsam, the model highlighted Somalia as another potential primary source. Our study concludes that most of the collected debris entered the sea as a result of inadequate waste management and demonstrates how anthropogenic waste can negatively impact even the most remote environments.
Aurélie V. Duhec, Richard F. Jeanne, Nikolai Maximenko, Jan Hafner, Marine Pollution Bulletin, Volume 96, Issues 1–2, Pages 76–86, 15 July 2015