Boaters map­ping Pa­cific garbage re­turn to land

The China Post - - LIFE GUIDE POST -

Sci­en­tists and vol­un­teers who have spent the last month gath­er­ing data on how much plas­tic garbage is float­ing in the Pa­cific Ocean re­turned to San Fran­cisco on Sun­day and said most of the trash they found is medium to large-sized pieces, as op­posed to tiny ones.

Vol­un­teer crews on 30 boats have been mea­sur­ing the size and map­ping the lo­ca­tion of tons of plas­tic waste float­ing be­tween the U.S. west coast and Hawaii.

“It was a good il­lus­tra­tion of why it is such an ur­gent thing to clean up be­cause if we don’t clean it up soon then we’ll give the big plas­tic time to break into smaller and smaller pieces,” said Boyan Slat, who has de­vel­oped a tech­nol­ogy that he says can start re­mov­ing the garbage by 2020.

A ship car­ry­ing fish­ing nets, buck­ets, buoys and bot­tles, among other items, and two sail­ing boats with vol­un­teers who helped col­lect the garbage sam­ples ar­rived in San Fran­cisco’s Piers 30-32. The boats went on a 30-day voy­age as part of the “Mega Ex­pe­di­tion,” a ma­jor step in an ef­fort to even­tu­ally clean up what’s known as the Great Pa­cific Garbage Patch.

The ex­pe­di­tion was spon­sored by The Ocean Cleanup, an or­ga­ni­za­tion founded by Slat, a 21-yearold in­no­va­tor from the Nether­lands.

Slat said the group will pub­lish a re­port of its find­ings by mid-2016 and af­ter that they hope to test out a 1.6-kilo­me­ter bar­rier to col­lect garbage near Ja­pan. The ul­ti­mate goal is con­struc­tion of a 100-kilo­me­ter bar­rier in the mid­dle of the Pa­cific.

He first be­came pas­sion­ate about clean­ing the oceans of plas­tic while div­ing in the Mediter­ranean Sea five years ago. “I was div­ing in Greece and re­al­ized that there were more plas­tic bags than fish, and I won­dered why can’t we clean this up,” Slat said.

Af­ter drop­ping out of univer­sity af­ter his first six months, Slat ded­i­cated his life to de­vel­op­ing the tech­nol­ogy the group will start test­ing next year.

He has en­vi­sioned us­ing longdis­tance float­ing bar­ri­ers that will at­tach to the seabed and will tar­get swirling ocean cur­rents full of waste and skim garbage from the sur­face while aquatic life and the cur­rents them­selves pass un­der­neath.

Af­ter a 2012 Ted Talk about his idea was viewed more than 2 mil­lion times, Slat de­cided to launch a kick starter cam­paign and raised 2 mil­lion eu­ros (about US$2.27 mil­lion) that helped to start his or­ga­ni­za­tion. Soon, his in­no­va­tive so­lu­tion got the at­ten­tion of ma­jor phi­lan­thropists in Europe and Sil­i­con Val­ley, in­clud­ing Sales­force. com CEO Marc Be­nioff, who are help­ing pay for the data-gath­er­ing ef­forts and the tech­nol­ogy’s de­vel­op­ment.

The Great Pa­cific Garbage Patch was dis­cov­ered by Charles J. Moore in 1997 as he re­turned home from the Tran­spa­cific Yacht Race, which starts in Los An­ge­les and ends in Honolulu.

(Left) In this Aug. 2 photo pro­vided by The Ocean Cleanup, Mega Ex­pe­di­tion crew mem­bers Mario Merkus, left, and Ser­ena Cun­solo pose on mother ship R/V Ocean Starr with the re­sults of trawl­ing with one 6me­ter-wide net for one hour in the Great Pa­cific Garbage Patch. Sci­en­tists and vol­un­teers who have spent the last month gath­er­ing data on how much plas­tic garbage is float­ing in the Pa­cific Ocean say most of the trash is medium to large-sized pieces, as op­posed to tiny ones. Vol­un­teer crews on 30 boats have been mea­sur­ing the size and map­ping the lo­ca­tion of tons of plas­tic waste float­ing be­tween the U.S. west coast and the is­land state Hawaii. Three of the boats, in­clud­ing this 52-me­ter mother ship, re­turned to San Fran­cisco on Sun­day, Aug. 23. (Right) In this June photo pro­vided by The Ocean Cleanup vol­un­teers de­ploy manta trawls, which col­lect plas­tic, dur­ing a test in the North Sea. A team of re­searchers, spon­sored by The Ocean Cleanup, an or­ga­ni­za­tion founded by a 21-year-old in­no­va­tor from the Nether­lands, are study­ing plas­tic waste in an ef­fort to even­tu­ally clean up what’s known as the Great Pa­cific Garbage Patch.

AP

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