Updated: Feb 24, 2019
A remote, isolated island that holds a significant history has a "litter-strewn" beach.
We Want a Clean Beach
Kure Atoll (/ˈkʊəriː/; Hawaiian: Mokupāpapa) is a northernmost coral reef in the shape of an oval, around 100 miles (160km) east to the International Date Line. It is one of the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands archipelagoes This uninhabited land is encompassed by 6 miles (10km) of the barrier reef and has a tropical savanna climate all year.
The history of Kure has to do with World War II, for it was visited frequently by the U.S. Navy that safeguarded the Hawaiian Islands from Japan's attacks. Before this event, during the 19th century, Russian navigators named and dubbed this atoll until, in 1924, it was officially named 'Kure Island.' 63 years later, however, its name changed into 'Kure Atoll.'
Located very near the GPGP, or the Great Pacific garbage patch (read more about this in my article), vigilant researchers study plastic trash like fishing nets, sneakers, tub toys, and soccer balls. This presents entanglement risks to the island animals like boobies, Hawaiian monk seals, and albatrosses. In only 2003, 2700 pounds (1225kg) of ocean garbage was removed from Kure.
Increasing the severity of the problem in Kure Atoll, a ship called Paradise Queen II spilled approximately 4,000 gallons (15140 liters) of diesel fuel, causing flotsam that polluted the wildlife for a long period of time. Luckily, the recent Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument protects Kure from the perils, but plastic and trash are always trouble-makers.
Another Island in Danger
On another Hawaiian island called Tern, located by the center of the Hawaiian Islands, is a home for over 15 species of sea birds. This rectangular island has connections to World War II as well. It acted as an emergency landing place for the U.S. Navy., being built a Naval Air Station.
Tracking Trash Together
Researchers and beachcombers have collected debris found on its beach for a decade and made a staggering discovery. "Even though you eliminate plastic with a switch somehow, you would still have plastic floating in the oceans for thirty or forty years. I think our society is misbehaving badly," said Dr. Curtis Ebbesmeyer in 1999, an oceanographer/expert on flotsam and jetsam, while visiting the Tern Island. "We humans must change the production and consumption of plastics and hope the ocean can clean itself up in the next centuries," Captain Charles Moore, a marine researcher who found the GPGP while sailing his vessel Alguita, agreed.
Charles's Algalita Marine Research Foundation plans to continue tracking trash in the Eastern Garbage Patch as well as in the North Pacific and Indian Ocean Gyres. The foundation's work is to connect fledglings with experts to discuss plastic consumption and provide hands-on experiences to inspire future leaders to resolve the issue. The founder of the gigantic trash vortex and his colleagues hope to inspire creative solutions to the possibly-everlasting problem.