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Exploring the Great Pacific Ocean Garbage Patch

Researchers are trying to find out the effects on marine life from a massive collection of plastic and other debris 1,000 miles off our coastline. Scripps Institution of Oceanography scientists have returned from a three-week trip exploring what's called the "Great Pacific Ocean Garbage Patch."

The Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego research vessel New Horizon explored the North Pacific Ocean Gyre on Aug. 11, 2009, as part of the SEAPLEX voyage.

The Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego research vessel New Horizon explored the North Pacific Ocean Gyre on Aug. 11, 2009, as part of the SEAPLEX voyage.

Credit: Scripps Institution of Oceanography, UC San Diego

A group of doctoral students and research volunteers from Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego collect plastic samples and explore the problem of plastic in the North Pacific Gyre.

A group of doctoral students and research volunteers from Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego collect plastic samples and explore the problem of plastic in the North Pacific Gyre.

Credit: Scripps Institution of Oceanography

Charting the August 2-21 expedition of doctoral students and research volunteers from Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego aboard the New Horizon to explore the problem of plastic in the North Pacific Gyre.

Charting the August 2-21 expedition of doctoral students and research volunteers from Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego aboard the New Horizon to explore the problem of plastic in the North Pacific Gyre.

Credit: Google Maps

After setting sail aboard R/V New Horizon on August 2, 2009, members of the Scripps Institution of Oceanography SEAPLEX expedition are trained in using a conductivity, temperature, and depth (CTD) instrument.

After setting sail aboard R/V New Horizon on August 2, 2009, members of the Scripps Institution of Oceanography SEAPLEX expedition are trained in using a conductivity, temperature, and depth (CTD) instrument.

Credit: Scripps Institution of Oceanography

Floating debris found by the SEAPLEX expedition. The debris at the center of the North Pacific Ocean has the potential to damage marine life and alter the biological environment.

Floating debris found by the SEAPLEX expedition. The debris at the center of the North Pacific Ocean has the potential to damage marine life and alter the biological environment.

Credit: Scripps Institution of Oceanography, UC San Diego

Sample collected by the SEAPLEX expedition by the Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego.

Sample collected by the SEAPLEX expedition by the Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego.

Credit: Scripps Institution of Oceanography, UC San Diego

Specimens collected by the SEAPLEX expedition. Garbage is being studied for its effects on marine life.

Specimens collected by the SEAPLEX expedition. Garbage is being studied for its effects on marine life.

Credit: Scripps Institution of Oceanography, UC San Diego

Garbage collected by the SEAPLEX expedition. The debris at the center of the North Pacific Ocean has the potential to damage marine life and alter the biological environment.

Garbage collected by the SEAPLEX expedition. The debris at the center of the North Pacific Ocean has the potential to damage marine life and alter the biological environment.

Credit: Scripps Institution of Oceanography, UC San Diego