Record Levels of Plastic Pollution on a Maldivian Island


shutterstock 1752537065 1

Plastic discarded on a beach in the Maldives

A study on an inhabited island in the Maldives has recorded one of the highest known density of microplastic pollution in the world.

Marine scientists measured the amount of microplastic (any plastic waste less than 5mm long) at 22 sites around the coast of Naifaru - the most populous island in the Lhaviyani Atoll and were stunned with the results.

Aerial Naifaru

Naifaru, The Maldives

Toby Patti, the lead researcher from Finder University in Australia, said: 'The concentration of microplastics found on Naifaru in the Maldives was greater than those previously found on a highly populated site at Tamil Nadu, India.

'The majority of microplastics found in our study were less than 0.4mm in width, so our results raise concerns about the potential for microplastic ingestion by marine organisms in the shallow coral reef system. The accumulation of microplastics is a serious concern for the ecosystem and the local community  living off of these marine resources, and can have a negative impact on human health.'

naifaru copy

Naifaru microplastic concentration. Particles per kilogramme of sediment. Credit Flinders University

Some of the waste could have been transported from neighbouring countries such as India by ocean currents. However, much is feared to have been generated locally with poor waste management across the Indian Ocean archipelago coupled with dramatic population growth and rapid commercial development.

Professor Karen Burke Da Silva from Finders University said notorious 'rubbish islands' used as landfill sites are also contributing to the high concentration of microplastic found around the island.

'Current waste management practices in the Maldives cannot keep up with population growth and the pace of development. The small island nation encounters several challenges regarding waste management systems and has seen a 58 per cent increase of waste generated per capita on local islands in the last decade,' says Professor Burke Da Silva.

'Without a significant increase in waste reduction and rapid improvements in waste management, small island communities will continue to generate high levels of microplastic pollution in marine environments, with potential to negatively impact the health of the ecosystem, marine organisms, and local island communities.'

The researchers are now looking at the stomach content of coral reef fish to see if they have bellies full of microplastics in a follow up study.



Love diving? You'll love these. Sign up today to immediately download our unique FREE gifts -

AROUND THE WORLD IN 80 WRECKS - DIVE's 70-page, beautifully illustrated, colour guide to the world’s best wrecks

SCUBA STORIES - DIVE's collection f real life stories where divers, who have got themselves into perilous situations, describe how they reacted and what actions they took to ensure they lived to tell the tale

PACIFICHighlights of the Pacific - Dancing mantas in Hawaii • The Best Diving in the World, Galápagos, Cocos, Malpelo & Socorro • Mass Spawning Events in Palau

New Upright Gift Banners 300 x 600 px

Sidebar SUBSCRIBE spring 21 large2

Destinations Spotlight

Need inspiration for your next dive trip? Try one of our featured destinations from DIVE's travel partners.

sidebar philippines sidebar bahamas sidebar mexico sidebar fiji sidebar st helena 2020 Sidebar Egypt sidebar banner sabah sidebar banner belize sidebar banner south africa

DIVE Partners

sidebar banner egypt new ceningan divers ad 300x100 LH 300 min giphy subex Wakatobi Siladen Aggressor Fisheye Dive Worldwide gozo banner Arenui

Read DIVE magazine

DIVE magazine is available to read on many devices. Simply click one one of the options below

PCMac final
Apple finalAndroid final

Like what you see?

Join us on social and keep updated daily...