ASTORIA, Ore. — Marine debris researcher Mark Ward is leading a charge to clean up a tidal inlet near the mouth of the Columbia River.
The inlet is littered with millions of tiny pieces of plastic called micro-plastics.
Ward has even nick named the area “Mega Sink.”
He says most of the micro-plastics come from the “North Pacific Plastic Patch,” a giant swirling garbage dump out in the ocean.
The plastics are swept into the inlet at high tide, sometimes in mounds.
“I’ve been doing this research for 15 years, this is the worst site I’ve ever come in contact with. It’s completely on a different magnitude,” Ward said.
Hundreds of seabirds and other wildlife die every year by eating plastic pieces, many of which are toxic.
Ward estimates in just the one inlet there are more than ten thousand pounds of plastics.
This past weekend he brought 55 volunteers to the site to clean it up.
They picked up more than a quarter ton of debris, but Ward said that made only a dent.
Ward says to get the area back to how it should be, he needs a lot more than volunteers.
He’s now looking to get either corporate or federal funding to handle what will be a massive job.