"Not many people know that lots of our clothes are made of plastic," says Imogen Napper, a PhD student at Plymouth University, "polyester, acrylic."
Ms Napper and Prof Richard Thompson study marine microplastics - fragments and fibres found in the ocean surface, the deep sea and the marine food chain.
And in a recent lab study, they found that polyester and acrylic clothing shed thousands of plastic fibres each time it was washed- yet another source of plastic pollution in the ocean.
"My friends always make fun of me because they think of marine biology as such a sexy science - all turtles, hot countries and bikinis," says Ms Napper.
"But I've been spending hours washing clothes and counting the fibres."
It might not be exotic, but this painstaking laundry-science has revealed that an average UK washing load - 6kg (13lb) of fabric - can release:
140,000 fibres from polyester-cotton blend
nearly half a million fibres from polyester
more than 700,000 fibres from acrylic