Point Nemo is so remote that those on the International Space Station, hundreds of miles above Earth, are usually the closest humans to this isolated place. Located nearly 1,700 miles from the nearest island, Point Nemo is the oceanic point farthest from land on our planet. Despite its secluded location, Point Nemo is plagued with plastic pollution. Sea vessels participating in the eight-month-long worldwide Volvo Ocean Race took seawater samples from Point Nemo, which contained up to 26 microplastic particles per cubic meter.
In 1992, survey engineer Hrvoje Lukatela discovered Point Nemo by using a computer program to determine the planet’s most remote oceanic point. The isolated Point Nemo is also one of the most lifeless areas of the ocean due to its proximity to South Pacific Gyre current, which pushes away nutrient-rich water. Turn The Tide On Plastic, the Volvo Ocean Race team that gathered the seawater sample from Point Nemo, collaborates with Sky Ocean Rescue to raise awareness of plastic pollution and organize action to reduce it. The plastic-contaminated samples, which were gathered during leg seven of the race from New Zealand to Brazil, represent the first instance in which Point Nemo water has been assessed for plastic content.
The seawater was first analyzed by Dr. Soren Gutekunst of the GEOMAR Institute for Ocean Research Kiel in Germany. “This means that even if I put a plastic bottle in the River Thames, maybe at some point I will find microplastics from this bottle down in South Africa,” Gutekunst told Sky News. While the news of plastic pollution in even the most remote locations is concerning, the level of pollution is still far below that of areas such as the Mediterranean or the South China Sea, which contain the highest levels of microplastic pollution.