'Cruise' to study Japan's tsunami debris
A new scientific expedition has been launched in the Pacific aimed at tracking the large piles of debris created by the March tsunami in Japan.
The Algalita Marine Research Foundation is offering paying tourists the chance to join scientists on a 23-day research "cruise", with prices starting from $US13,500.
The group's president Bill Francis told Radio Australia's Pacific Beat his main concern is not only for the hundreds or thousands of marine animals that die from entanglement in the debris, but the toxic materials that ultimately wind up in the human food chain.
"The issue that I see long term is for human health," he said.
"If we have toxins and other things associated with plastic that are getting in the food web, those become hormone replacement materials, endocrine-disruption materials and can affect the health of entire human population over time."
The Japanese tsunami spewed millions of tons of debris from the country's coastline into the sea following the 9.0-magnitude earthquake off Sendai in March.