These are were taken from the blog of the Oceanographic Research Vessel Alguita detailing their travels this year. They have eye witness accounts of the plastic garbage. It turns out the plastic is not even close to a island, or anything island like. The plastic that is out looks like the byproduct of a will-it-blend episode.
To get any detectable and easily studied plastic they set out a small net and trawl for the plastic:
"[T]rawls today were the highest plastic concentration we have seen yet"
... "The pictures are from 2 ea. 2 hour trawls covering 1 meter wide by 6 miles long."
Regarding the difficulty seeing it:
"Then when I went up to sit on the boom to get a higher vantage point for spotting bigger pieces, the first thing I noticed was, I could no longer see the small fragments, so if you are on the deck of 300 ft ship, you will not even see the real problem. I tried to film the small bits, but I don't know how well it came out."
"[T]he plastic we have accumulated from the trawls-these are the tiny fragments which we will not be able to quantify and classify until we get them back to the lab.
Hmm... I should probably post this to wikipedia...