“Disenchanted”: Easter Island – A Paradise Devastated by Plastic Pollution


Arrived on the legendary Easter Island (Chile) on May 20th, the R4WO scientific teams have proceeded onto the first scientific surveys in the South Pacific Garbage Patch on the coasts of the island devastated by plastic waste. At the same time, they have also continued with different sociological studies undertaken until now with local populations.

The famous island, located in the South Pacific Garbage Patch suffers a lot from the plastic pollution © Peter Charaf / Race for Water 2015

Debris on Ovahe Beach © Peter Charaf / Race for Water 2015

In 1997, the oceanographer Charles Moore discovered the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. This zone of relative inertia, created by oceanic currents in which trash accumulates and creates a polluted zone, became the most famous of the 5 existing vortexes on the planet. Often compared to a “7th continen”, these garbage patches actually look more like a plastic soup, where debris of different size accumulates. This debris can travel long distances and for years before gathering in the middles of the gyres. For example, trash that entered Japanese waters after the 2011 tsunami now finds itself off the Canadian shores. Describing his discovery, Charles Moore later wrote:

“As I gazed from the deck at the surface of what ought to have been a pristine ocean, I was confronted, as far as the eye could see, with the sight of plastic. It seemed unbelievable, but I never found a clear spot. In the week it took to cross the subtropical high, no matter what time of day I looked, plastic debris was floating everywhere: bottles, bottle caps, wrappers, fragments”

The R4WO sailing towards Easter Island © Peter Charaf / Race for Water 2015

The Great Pacific Garbage Patch is the most famous gyre and the one that —> Read More