One of the best ways to determine how much plastic is polluting a region of the ocean is, unfortunately, to autopsy dead birds in the region. One species of bird in particular, the Northern fulmar, eats nearly anything, rarely regurgites plastic, and is populous enough to die in large numbers over a broad area. So scientists scour the beach for dead Northern fulmars and cut them open.
As you might have read in previous about plastics, plastic in the ocean is one of the things that really freaks me out and motivates me to attend City Council meetings and drop literature at my nieghbors' houses. Here is more evidence of why we have got to stop using so much plastic. I think I may start a new group: People for Using Plastic Appropriately!