NeverVotedBush writes: During their August fact-finding expedition, a group of University of California scientists found much more debris than they expected. The team announced their observations at a San Diego press conference The sheer quantity of plastic that accumulates in the North Pacific Gyre has scientists worried about how it might harm the sea creatures there. A study released earlier this month estimated that thousands of tons of plastic debris wind up in the oceans every year, and some of that has ended up in the swirling currents of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. Katsuhiko Saido, a chemist at Nihon University, Chiba, Japan, told the annual meeting of the American Chemical Society last week that plastic actually does decompose, releasing potentially toxic chemicals that can disrupt the functioning of hormones in animals and marine life. Plastics have entangled birds and turned up in the bellies of fish, and one paper cited by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration estimates 100,000 marine mammals die trash-related deaths each year.