NeverVotedBush writes with an update to a story we discussed early this month about an enormous accumulation of garbage and plastic debris in the Pacific Ocean, a thousand miles off the coast of California. The team of scientists has now returned from their expedition to examine the area and say they "found much more debris than they expected." The team will start running tests on the samples they retrieved, and they are preparing to visit another section of ocean they suspect will be full of trash. "The Scripps team hopes the samples they gathered during the trip nail down answers to questions of the trash's environmental impact. Does eating plastic poison plankton? Is the ecosystem in trouble when new sea creatures hitchhike on the side of a water bottle? Plastics have entangled birds and turned up in the bellies of fish, and one paper cited by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration estimates 100,000 marine mammals die trash-related deaths each year. The scientists hope their data gives clues as to the density and extent of marine debris, especially since the Great Pacific Garbage Patch may have company in the Southern Hemisphere, where scientists say the gyre is four times bigger. 'We're afraid at what we're going to find in the South Gyre, but we've got to go there,' said Tony Haymet, director of the Scripps Institution."
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