The YRE Article Category focuses on articles addressing sustainability and climate change education, with this year’s national theme centered around “Exposing Marine Pollution” (while the global theme focused on pollution in general). Articles were asked to delve into the historical, economic, social, and political implications of the topic from an environmental perspective, while also establishing connections between local and global issues. Authors were encouraged to provide realistic solutions to environmental problems or create awareness on the topic.

Winners: Zoë Mir and Asia Robinson

We would like to congratulate Zoë Mir for her article being shortlisted for the Young Reporters for the Environment Global Competition! Zoe’s submission was one of 9 winners of the YRE National Competition and was one of 4 that qualified to be submitted into the global competition.

Article Winner Age 11-14 & YRE Global Entry

Zoë Mir
Age: 13
School: Somersfield Academy

Plastic Pollution on Nonsuch Island, the Home of the Endangered Cahows

Walking down the flourishing trails of Nonsuch Island, I was struck by both the beauty of the scenery and the connection I felt with nature. This is how Bermuda would have looked when the first settlers arrived to this uninhabited archipelago more than 400 years ago. The well-worn paths were overflowing with native and endemic plants and wildlife, and I could hear waves gliding across the rocks in the distance. As I began to make my way down a steep trail to the water with a group of Bermuda Youth Climate Summit participants, we passed an unmarked graveyard where victims of a centuries-old Yellow Fever outbreak were buried, and we saw an upturned bucket of shells, originally taken illegally from coastal areas but delivered back to nature to become hermit crab homes on Nonsuch.

Just as the path began to open up, everyone began to slow down. At first, I didn’t know why, but then my eyes widened in shock. A huge pile of junk stretched out before me on the side of the path: plastic crates, trash cans, coils of synthetic rope, bottles, toys, buoys, boat parts, fishing gear, octopus traps, tires, and so many other unidentifiable pieces of human trash. Another 20 feet down the path, the trash finally thinned out, but as we reached the beach, we were greeted by a new mound of washed-up trash as well as more plastic littered across the beach.

Nonsuch Island is one of the many islands that make up Bermuda, a 21-square-mile territory in the North Atlantic Ocean, about 650 miles east of the U.S. state of North Carolina. Located in St. George’s Parish at the east entrance of Castle Harbor, the 14-acre island is a thriving wildlife sanctuary. With beaches, open spaces, endemic forests, and a freshwater marsh, the rocky island can be described as a “Living Museum of Pre-Colonial Bermuda.” However, to keep it this way, access to the public is restricted.

I’ve spent almost my entire life within eyesight of this island, even swimming and sailing around it, yet I was never allowed to visit until this trip. There are signs around the cliffs warning that no one is allowed to dock or step foot on the island without permission, or they can be fined $5,000 and/or sentenced to 6 months in prison. Even as we walked onto the island, we had to scrub the bottoms of our shoes in water and bleach to ensure that no parasites from the mainland would disturb the delicately balanced ecosystem. Because of the precautions, when I got to the beach, I had been expecting a pristine, natural landscape. Instead, I was greeted by those mountains of foreign trash. With all of the restrictions, how is so much trash ending up on Nonsuch?

This feeling of disillusionment only grew as I got to meet some of the island’s cutest and most famous residents: the cahows. The Bermuda Petrel, or cahow, is one of the rarest seabirds on the planet. It was thought to be extinct for 330 years until it was rediscovered in 1951 by David Wingate. When he started a program to bring them back from the brink of extinction, there were only 17 known breeding pairs. Now, as of 2023, there are 167 breeding pairs, with 37 of them living on Nonsuch. Although they are making a steady comeback, no one can be sure how long it will last. In 2022, 78 cahow chicks hatched, but just one year later, even with more breeding pairs, just 71 chicks hatched. After learning how much has been done to save these birds, I felt motivated to help them and their island home. It turns out that I am not alone.

In 2017, the Nonsuch Expeditions team, in collaboration with Bermuda’s Department of the Environment and Natural Resources, started setting aside the washed-up trash for further examination. They have determined that less than 10 percent of the tons of trash collected from Nonsuch’s beaches was from Bermuda. This is a small part of the ongoing Nonsuch Plastic Project.

Aside from collecting and monitoring the plastic trash on the island, the Nonsuch Plastic Project also aims to cut off the plastic at its sources. Plastic pollution is a huge problem worldwide. When it gets into oceans, it breaks down into microplastics, which are plastic pieces smaller than 5 mm in diameter. They are then eaten by fish and are passed all the way through the food web to people, who may be even more affected by the plastic than the individual fish through a process known as biomagnification. These microplastics, along with larger chunks of plastic, are carried by global currents, meaning plastic that enters the water in one area can end up on the other side of the globe. Bermuda is in the middle of a current that circulates around the Atlantic Basin.

To find out where Nonsuch’s trash came from, the Plastic Project is releasing trackers resembling soda bottles in Bermuda and all around the Atlantic Basin through a program called Message in a Bottle. These trackers are monitored by GPS and send signals three times a day. They also record water temperature and will eventually have other features as well. In collaboration with partner organizations, these trackers will be deployed by schoolchildren around the Atlantic. They will be used to discover the areas that receive the most plastic and will help to determine where it entered the ocean.

As I collected trash on Nonsuch Island, clearing the home of the beautiful cahow, I realized the effort cannot be one-sided. Everyone needs to do their part, clearing litter, reducing use of plastics, and cutting the waste off at its source.


Article Winner Age 15-18 & YRE Global Entry

Asia Robinson
Age: 18
School: Bermuda College

The Plastic Plague: Confronting the Devastating Impact of Marine Pollution

Who, What, Where, When And How is The Looming Environmental Crisis Of Marine Pollution Threatening Our Planet’s Health?

Plastic pollution in the ocean has become a global environmental issue in recent years, causing harm to marine life and impacting the overall health of the ocean ecosystem. In this essay, we will explore the Who, What, Where, When, and How of plastic pollution in the ocean.

Plastic pollution in the ocean is a result of the actions of various individuals and industries. Plastic waste generated by households, businesses, and industries all contribute to the problem. In addition, illegal dumping of plastic waste by ships and boats is also a major contributor.

Plastic pollution in the ocean refers to the accumulation of plastic waste in the ocean waters, which can range from microplastics to larger plastic items such as bags, bottles, and fishing nets. These plastics can take hundreds of years to degrade and can harm marine life through ingestion, entanglement, and disruption of the food chain.

Plastic pollution in the ocean occurs worldwide, affecting both coastal and open ocean areas. It is estimated that there are over 5 trillion pieces of plastic debris in the ocean, with the Great Pacific Garbage Patch being one of the largest accumulations of plastic waste in the world.

Plastic pollution in the ocean has been a growing problem since the 1950s, coinciding with the widespread adoption of single-use plastics. The problem has worsened in recent years, with the production of plastic expected to double by 2050, and the continued improper disposal of plastic waste.