Specialist argues ocean debris not necessarily from missing plane




Posted on March 26, 2014 at 4:37 PM

Updated Wednesday, Mar 26 at 7:40 PM

SPOKANE, Wash.--Floating objects in the sea mistaken for pieces of wreckage have complicated the search for missing Malaysian Airlines Flight 370.

Satellites high above the earth’s surface spotted the floating objects. A marine debris specialist in town in Spokane from Washington D.C. said the objects could turn out to be a number of things.

READ: Investigator: Malaysia jet loss not an accident

Nearly three weeks into the search for the flight at the end of March, a Malaysian transport official said satellites picked up images of large sized debris floating in the Indian Ocean.

Marine debris specialist Nicholas Mallos said it remains difficult to conclude from imagery the identity of the items until a physical search provides confirmation.

“What many people don't realize, there is an exorbitant amount of stuff already floating out there on the surface,” said Mallos.

There are items like wreckage from abandoned fishing ships, crates, containers and docks floating in the sea.

“It's unfortunate that human tragedies and like the Japan tsunami often bring attention to the issue of marine debris,” said Mallos.

Mallos works for Ocean Conservancy, an advocacy group based in Washington D.C. He studies the movement of ocean debris.

Officials acknowledged the blurry objects could be aircraft wreckage, or something else.

“It is no small task that lays ahead if in fact they identify that debris as wreckage,” said Mallos.

Mallos said identifying where the plane may have gone down was beyond his organization’s scope of work.