Back in 1997 Capt. Charles Moore discovered the Great Pacific Garbage Patch during a sailboat race from Los Angeles to Honolulu. Since then, many have tried to reduce the size of the patch, which is said to be the size of Texas. Unfortunately, Moore recently returned to the area and has discovered that permanent islands of plastic now exist within the patch.

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Moore’s return to the garbage patch was designed to track its extent and study its impact on marine life. The expedition is part of Moore’s organization, Algalita Marine Research Institute, a nonprofit focused on reducing marine plastic pollution. However, whilst trawling for trash with nets through a 4.5 mile section of the ocean, Moore was shocked at what he and his team found.

Related: Even If We Stopped Polluting Today, Ocean Garbage Patches Would Linger For Hundreds Of Years

As well as vast quantities of plastic waste, the team found “permanent fixtures in the garbage patch’s landscape”. Among these fixtures was a “trash island” more than 50 feet (15 meters) long, with “beaches,” a “rocky coastline,” and “underwater mountains” and reefs made up of ropes, buoys and other plastic debris.

Not just that, but mussels, clams, sea anemones and seaweed were found sheltering on this artificial island, reinforcing the findings that 35 percent of the fish sampled were found to have swallowed some form of plastic. Must of the waste that makes up the island is believed to have originated in Japan during the 2011 tsunami with much of the debris coming from aquaculture farms that were harvesting mussels and oysters.

“It’s showing signs of permanence,” Moore said. “There will be a new floating world in our oceans if we don’t stop polluting with plastics.”

Via Live Science

Images via Kevin Krejci