WOODS HOLE, Mass., June 10 (UPI) -- A non-profit educational group, the Sea Education Association, says it is planning the first federally funded study of plastic debris in the North Atlantic.
Officials said an oceanographic research vessel owned and operated by the organization was to sail Thursday from Hamilton, Bermuda, on a 34-day expedition to examine the accumulation of plastic marine debris in the North Atlantic Ocean.
During the cruise, the 34-person crew -- including undergraduate and graduate students, high school teachers and scientists -- will explore an area more than 1,100 miles east of Bermuda that's posited to be a region of high concentrations of plastic debris comparable to the region of the eastern North Pacific Ocean where marine debris has also been observed.
"This expedition brings SEA's extensive experience sampling marine debris to bear on cutting-edge research questions about the extent of plastic pollution and its biological and chemical impacts on the marine ecosystem," said Giora Proskurowski, the expedition's chief scientist.
Funding was provided by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, the Doherty Foundation and the American Chemistry Council in collaboration with the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution and the Woods Hole Sea Grant.
Officials said daily updates on scientific findings and notable events, including video footage, will be available at http://plastics.sea.edu.