Dec. 31 (UPI) -- A new survey shows 10 times more trash ends up on the shores of Texas than any other state along the Gulf of Mexico.
Over the last two years, scientists at the Dauphin Island Sea Lab and the Mission-Aransas National Estuarine Research Reserve have been documenting debris along the Gulf of Mexico coastline.
The research, published in the journal Marine Pollution Bulletin, revealed the majority of trash washing ashore is plastic -- between 69 and 95 percent. Researchers also determined more debris is deposited along the Gulf coastline during spring and summer, perhaps because more people are on the beach and the water -- and littering.
Every month from February 2015 to August 2017, researchers counted the trash that had washed ashore at 12 test sites on nine barrier islands, stretching from Texas' North Padre Island to Florida's Santa Rosa Island. Scientists sorted the pieces of debris by size, material and position.
The patterns of plastic debris deposition recorded in the Gulf, researchers said, are similar to those observed all over the globe.
"Marine debris is an economic, environmental, human health and aesthetic problem posing a complex challenge to communities around the globe," researchers wrote in their paper.
Not all debris ends up on shorelines. Some collect in large gyres in the middle of the ocean. Earlier this year, researchers confirmed that the Giant Pacific Garbage Patch is getting bigger. Studies have also shown that plastic debris continues to accumulate in the Arctic.
Not all the plastic debris that ends up in the ocean is easily countable. Much of it is broken down into smaller pieces by microorganisms, and lab tests suggest microplastic particles can sink into the deep sea.