A few centuries ago, a small group of pioneering Polynesian seafarers landed on the uninhabited, volcanic shores of a small island, having journeyed across the open ocean using only the stars and ocean swells to navigate. This journey is not only miraculous in that the vessel of transport was little more than a wooden outrigger canoe, but that this island represents the southernmost point of Polynesia – and lies a stunning 1,150 miles from the nearest neighbouring island. The island was re-discovered in the earth 18th century by Dutch explorer, Jacob Roggeveen, on the day of the island’s namesake, Easter Sunday.

Quick Facts
  • Name: Easter Island or Rapa Nui
  • Country: Chile
  • Date of first landing: Unknown (800 – 1200 AD)
  • Significant Features: Moai statues


Fast forward to modern day and the eXXpedition crew will land upon this same lonely island, greeted by the towering stone faces of mo’ai statues, having completed a very different, but equally as pioneering journey. After sailing 2000 nautical miles from the Galapagos archipelago, our Leg 7 crew will reach the Chilean island, having spent two weeks conducting research at sea on the ocean plastic problem.


Mo’ai Statues on Easter Island (Photo credit: Thomas Griggs)

The destructive concomitants of human activity have plagued Easter Island since the first landing. Back then, it was the initiation of rats and mass deforestation to build canoes that caused what some ecologists today refer to as ‘mass ecocide’ – total environmental destruction. Today, however, it is a modern anthropogenic threat looms over the remote island, though this time, the cause is not from visitors to the island, but rather, from the visiting tides by way of plastic pollution.

The South Pacific Gyre, or “Garbage Patch”, is an accumulation zone for marine litter; a vortex driven by the motion of ocean currents which concentrates plastic from across the ocean into a central point. Though it may be one of the most remote inhabited islands of the world, in sitting just off this gyre, Easter Island is also susceptible to plastic waste being washed ashore.

Easter Island is also a place of beauty too; its remote location has led to the evolution of unique and abundant marine wildlife. In recent years this has been recognised by the Chilean Government who have created “Rapa Nui Marine Park”, one of the world’s largest designated marine parks. When our crew will reach its shores, not only will we explore the beautiful, rugged landscape of the loneliest island in the world, but work with the local community to raise awareness about the plastic issue and how we can work together to tackle it.