For bizarre items floating in the ocean, try topping this: The upper half of a set of false teeth, seen bobbing around in the South China Sea.
“I remember thinking: ‘How on earth did it get there?”’ said Lindsay Porter, a marine scientist based in the Malaysian city of Kota Kinabalu, who spotted the item from a research vessel about 200 kilometers, or 125 miles, off China in 2009.
The teeth, gripped in their plastic gums, are part of the millions of tons of plastic trash that somehow ends up in oceans around the world every year. Mostly, it is more mundane stuff, the flotsam and jetsam of everyday life: picnic plates, bottles, cigarette lighters, toys, spoons, flip-flops, condoms.
Taken together, the virtually indestructible mass is now so large that it is causing environmentalists, government officials and the plastics industry itself to sit up and take note. Many scientists believe marine plastic pollution is one of the major issues — along with climate change — facing the planet.