US Fish & Wildlife Service


Date of this Version



Marine Pollution Bulletin 64 (2012) 1726–1729;


Baseline measurements were made of the amount and weight of beached marine debris on Sand Island, Midway Atoll, June 2008–July 2010. On 23 surveys, 32,696 total debris objects (identifiable items and pieces) were collected; total weight was 740.4 kg. Seventy-two percent of the total was pieces; 91% of the pieces were made of plastic materials. Pieces were composed primarily of polyethylene and polypropylene. Identifiable items were 28% of the total; 88% of the identifiable items were in the fishing/aquaculture/ shipping-related and beverage/household products-related categories. Identifiable items were lowest during April–August, while pieces were at their lowest during June–August. Sites facing the North Pacific Gyre received the most debris and proportionately more pieces. More debris tended to be found on Sand Island when the Subtropical Convergence Zone was closer to the Atoll. This information can be used for potential mitigation and to understand the impacts of large-scale events such as the 2011 Japanese tsunami.