Addressing Plastic Pollution in the the Aldabra Atoll

Aldabra, located in the Seychelles archipelago off the coast of East Africa, is the second largest coral atoll in the world. The World UNESCO World Heritage site is home to rare biodiversity – including two-thirds of the world’s giant tortoise population.

Although Aldabra is fairly remote – 265 miles from the nearest shore – large amounts of plastic pollution have accumulated along the shore of the atoll, carried by currents of wind. The giant tortoises have been seen ingesting plastic, birds have been entangled in fishing line, and nesting endangered green turtles are facing the plastic as a barrier to their nesting sites.

April Burt, a conservation biologist at Oxford University and a research associate to the Seychelles Islands Foundation, has been awarded a Flag Carrier grant by WINGS. She will carry the WINGS flag to Aldabra where she will lead a clean-up of the plastic pollution.

Her team consists of six Oxford graduates and six young Sechellois conservationists. They aim to remove more than 200 tons of plastic from the shoreline and develop strategies to mitigate future pollution in Aldabra.

The team has successfully crowdfunded £73,285 – or nearly $97,000 – for the project.

April wants the clean-up to have far-reaching impact.

“Beyond the clean-up expedition, I want the project to produce a legacy of change,” she said. “Aldabra has a history of threats being overcome by the actions of us humans. Aldabra’s history tells us that we can have a profound influence on the trajectory of our natural world, both for good and evil. This new insidious threat of plastic pollution is no different.”

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