Mary Crowley loves to sail. But a few years ago, she discovered a problem. A problem fondly called The Great Garbage Patch.

The [North Pacific Gyre], or area of spiraling ocean currents, is approximately twice the size of the continental United States. It isn't filled with garbage, but the region is known for accumulating large amounts of waste and debris that get trapped by its large clockwise currents between North America and Japan.

"I've been out to the same part of the ocean 30 years ago, and then, it was clean oceanic wilderness. And now, it's like a dump," Crowley said. "This is significantly worse."

Although news reports about this giant garbage dump have been circulating for years, it remains safely out of sight and out of mind. So Crowley started taking teams of scientists and fellow ocean enthusiasts out to study the mess.

Their greatest discovery? The ocean is now thoroughly infused with plastic. In fact, "it's hard to find water without it," according to her. And most of it comes from landlubbers, says Diane Sherman, director of the International Coastal Cleanup, which collected 7 million pounds of trash last year.

Crowley is full of ideas on how the world can keep its oceans clean but given the overwhelming concern people have demonstrated thus far, you should probably begin training your stomach to ingest small bits of plastic.

[More: Project Kaisei]

[Pic: Boating SF]