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Ben Smee in the Guardian reports that researchers at the University of Tasmania have found 977,000 shoes and 373,000 toothbrushes in debris washed up on the 26 kilometres of coastline of the Cocos  [Keeling] Islands. The islands with a population of just 600 people are 800 miles south west of Malaysia in the Indian Ocean. The debris also included 414 million pieces of plastic, most of which were single use items such as bottles, cutlery, bags and straws. The 238 tonnes of debris was found up to 10 centimetres  beneath the surface and was 26 times more than the amount that was visible.

Jennifer Lavers the leader of the research team says ‘“Islands such as these are like canaries in a coal mine, and it’s  increasingly urgent that we act on the warnings they are giving us. Plastic pollution is now ubiquitous in our oceans, and remote islands are an ideal place to get an objective view of the volume now circling the globe.”