HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Nearly every year since 1996, a team of scientists has traveled to a place where no one lives to survey the world's trash – and pack up tons of it to take home.
Plastic bottles. Fishing nets. Children's toys.
The annual month-long debris removal project in the Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument has produced shocking images of mountains of trash on uninhabited Pacific shores, and a better understanding of how ocean currents concentrate marine trash in particular places.
This year, you can track the progress of the National Ocean and Atmospheric Administration's Marine Debris project online over the course of the team's 33-day trip, which wraps up May 13.
The group's members are focusing their work in 2016 on Midway Atoll, the nesting grounds for millions of seabirds.
They'll also be picking up debris from Kure, Pearl and Hermes atolls, Lisanski and Laysan islands, and the French Frigate Shoals.
Last year, the project collected 32,000 pounds pounds of debris. Judging by the photos the team has posted so far, we're fairly sure they'll top that this year.