HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The size and scope of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch is even worse than expected, an aerial survey conducted this week has found.
The Great Pacific Garbage Patch is a massive area of ocean between Hawaii and California where plastic is known to accumulate.
Ocean Cleanup, a Dutch foundation, conducted the low-altitude survey of the garbage patch using a modified C-130 Hercules. The airplane was equipped with plastic scanning equipment and other state-of-the-art tools.
The survey is being called an "essential milestone" in the lead-up to cleaning up the garbage patch, something the foundation hopes to do before the end of the decade.
The survey found that the area of the garbage patch was larger than expected. The size of trash in the patch had also been underestimated, the aerial survey found.
Survey flights are continuing through the week, and researchers plan to produce a scientific paper based on their findings in early 2017.
"The aerial expedition -- our final reconnaissance mission -- brings us another step closer to the cleanup of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch," said Boyan Slat, CEO and founder of Ocean Cleanup, in a news release. "The initial findings of the expeditions again underline the urgency to tackle the growing accumulation of plastic in the world's oceans."