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Chris Jordan, whose past photographic compositions create dizzying perspectives on the cumulative effects of consumer culture, now has a new muse: The Great Pacific Garbage Patch. Jordan visited the Midway Atoll, right in the heart of the Patch to get these sobering pictures of albatrosses stuffed with plastic detritus.
"Project Kaisei is very committed to beginning major cleanup efforts next year," she said.
Crowley said the pollution problem was "what we expected to see, or a little worse."
Some have estimated the patch to be roughly the size of Texas, but Crowley likened it to "a field of garbage," with "hundreds of tons" of plastic trash scattered thinly across an enormous expanse of ocean.
The crew felt "a real sadness" in the days after arriving at the site of the garbage patch, she said. "It hit us, actually being out there and seeing all of this garbage way off shore in the beautiful deep blue ocean."
The group's findings created "a real urgency" to begin clean-up efforts, Crowley said.
Scientists are exploring the possibility of using "passive collection devices," that are essentially floating boxes that can collect small pieces of plastic to be retrieved by boat.