Using 30 boats, the team of scientists spent a month collecting samples and measuring the dimensions of the patch which they hope to clean up in the future. According to those findings, the cleanup effort could take much longer than previously anticipated, as the collection of discarded plastic waste is nightmarishly big.
The stretch of accumulated pollution is roughly twice the size of Texas.
"I've studied plastic in all the world's oceans, but never seen any area as polluted as the Great Pacific Garbage Patch," said Ocean Cleanup's lead oceanographer, Dr. Julia Reisser, according to Newser.
"Based on what we've seen out there, the only way to describe the Great Pacific Garbage Patch is a ticking time bomb," Slat said during a news conference.
The researches, however, haven't given up hope. Despite its massive size, most of the trash in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, including a one-ton fishing net, has not broken down yet.
Current cleanup methods usually involve large nets which are swept across the water to collect garbage, but Slat finds this method inefficient. He is working on new technology to defuse the "bomb." Using floating barriers which are fixed to the seafloor, he believes the cleanup can be carried out in as little as 10 years.
"By using floating booms instead of nets, much larger areas will be covered," he explained. "Not using mesh means that even the smallest particles will be diverted and extracted."
Slat said the group will publish a report of its findings by mid-2016. Soon after he hopes to test one of the one mile-long trash barriers near Japan. The ultimate goal is the construction of a 62 mile barrier in the middle of the Pacific.