"Plastic Pollution in Ocean Likely Underestimated, Researchers Say"

"The cause célèbre of plastic litter in the ocean is the Texas-sized, swirling island of plastic debris thousands of miles off the coast of California in the Pacific Ocean. But researchers from the Universities of Washington and Delaware and the Sea Education Association in Woods Hole, Mass., say the story is much bigger, and scarier, than that."

"They say scientists have only skimmed the surface on the devastating pollution caused by plastic debris in the ocean, and the research community is likely underestimating the amount of plastic in the ocean.

According to new research, natural ocean processes such as wind, drag, turbulence and wave height can push the plastic deep down, where it floats along, suspended underwater and unobserved by people examining the ocean's surface.

The research is published in the journal Geophysical Research Letters.

Giora Proskurowski, the University of Washington researcher, said his eureka moment happened while working on a research sailboat 2,000 miles off the West Coast."

Susanne Rust reports for California Watch April 30, 2012.

Source: California Watch, 04/30/2012