SAN FRANCISCO (KRON) — Researchers say tons of plastic waste covering an area twice the size of Texas is floating far off California’s coast, where the Pacific Ocean currents swirl.
Scientist and volunteers returned to San Francisco on Sunday, after spending a month gathering information on just how much plastic garbage is floating in the waters between the West Coast and Hawaii.
They traveled on a 171-foot mother ship, carrying massive white bags filled with plastic garbage, along with two sailing boats with volunteers who helped collect the garbage samples.
Researchers say they found a 1-ton fishing net among the trash. Most of the debris collected was medium- to large-size pieces, as opposed to confetti-like plastic shards that can easily enter the food chain after being eaten by small fish and birds and are extremely difficult to clean up, said Boyan Slat, who founded The Ocean Cleanup.
“It was a good illustration of why it is such an urgent thing to clean up because if we don’t clean it up soon then we’ll give the big plastic time to break into smaller and smaller pieces,” Slat said.