Environment

Ocean Cleanup project completes Great Pacific Garbage Patch research expedition

Ocean Cleanup project complete...
The Ocean Cleanup project's "Mega Expedition" is said to have been the largest ocean research expedition in history
The Ocean Cleanup project's "Mega Expedition" is said to have been the largest ocean research expedition in history
View 1 Image
The Ocean Cleanup project's "Mega Expedition" is said to have been the largest ocean research expedition in history
1/1
The Ocean Cleanup project's "Mega Expedition" is said to have been the largest ocean research expedition in history

In May, the Ocean Cleanup project announced that its first deployment would be delivered in the Korea Strait next year. That will pave the way for its ultimate goal of cleaning up the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. With that in mind, a research expedition at the Garbage Patch has just been completed.

The concept for the Ocean Cleanup project was conceived by Dutch entrepreneur and inventor Boyan Slat and announced in 2013. Slat realized that the movement of the oceans could be harnessed in order to direct floating plastic waste into the arms of a static collection system.

After a positive feasibility study, a successful crowdfunding campaign and being named a category winner in the 2015 Designs of the Year awards, the Ocean Cleanup project recently set out to gather research in the Pacific. A fleet of 30 vessels, including a 171 ft (52 m) mothership, took part in the month-long voyage, or Mega Expedition, the primary goal of which was to determine just how much plastic is actually floating in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch.

According to the Ocean Cleanup project, this was the largest ocean research expedition in history. A series of measurement techniques were employed to sample the concentration of plastic in the area, including trawls and aerial surveys. It is also said to have been the first time that large pieces of plastic, such as ghost nets and Japanese tsunami debris, have been quantified.

Slat explains that it is not just floating bits of plastic that are a problem, but what happens to those pieces over the long term. "The vast majority of the plastic in the garbage patch is currently locked up in large pieces of debris, but UV light is breaking it down into much more dangerous microplastics, vastly increasing the amount of microplastics over the next few decades if we don’t clean it up," he says. "It really is a ticking time bomb."

The research samples collected during the expedition during have to be analyzed, but preliminary findings indicate a "higher-than-expected volume" of plastic objects found at the Pacific site.

The cleanup proper of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch is expected to begin in 2020.

The video below provides an introduction to the expedition.

Source: The Ocean Cleanup

Expedition to measure plastic in Great Pacific Garbage Patch departs | The Ocean Cleanup

10 comments
Stephen N Russell
Send in submersible drones & air drones for oversight 24/7 & rig with senor bouys around garbage patch area alone for Tracking. Sub drones can plot trash & examine seabed life around trash pile.
ezeflyer
Ban toxic, non-recyclable plastics. There are better alternatives.
Lbrewer42
Wikipedia ebtry on the Great Pacific Garbage Patch: "Despite its enormous size and density (4 particles per cubic meter), the patch is not visible from satellite photography, nor is it necessarily detectable to casual boaters or divers in the area, as it consists primarily of a small increase in suspended, often microscopic particles in the upper water column." Convenient. Reminds me of the Cqrter admin fake energy crisis; the acid killer bees and acid rain terros of the 70s and 80s, and AGW. Pretty soon there will be a way to make us pay for this also, and it will turn out to be as big a scam.
Ramon Verhoeven
@ Lbrewer42, think you have to educate yourself before you blast nonsense like that. For example the acid rain problem was solved by restricting so2 emission. that worked. If a problem has been taken care of that does not mean you can call it a hoax. its called a solved problem.
Erg
Well said Ramon.
POOL PUMPREAPAIR guy longwood
Like cutting the grass with a fingernail clipper, But I respect the effort, it's a great idea.
maak
The university of Oregon had a research vessel go out and trawl this area for plastic debris and found the problem was WAY, WAY overstated. The original people who made the claim checked a VERY small portion of the ocean then extrapolated it (with no evidence) to the size of Texas. Even if true any attempt to clean up such a huge area of ocean would be ludicrous. They're asking for money knowing very few people actually understand just how big this supposed garbage patch is and how hopeless a job it would be. Also you can't just think surface area but dozens, if not hundreds, of feet deep. It would be like trying to clean Lake Michigan with a hair net. "POOL PUMPREAPAIR guy" has it right only it's much,much worse than his example. But, hey, If you like throwing money at an impossible quest I guess it makes some people feel good about themselves and gives the askers a life long, never ending, paid occupation with zero chance of ever getting it finshed.
Cuckoo
Lbrewer42, It depresses me that there are people as ignorant as you in the world. I guess it will be OK if we dump all that garbage on top of your home? It's OK, you won't be able to see it from space, so it won't be a problem.
Kirk McLoren
Of the more than 200 billion pounds of plastic the world produces each year, about 10 percent ends up in the ocean . Seventy percent of that eventually sinks, damaging life on the ocean floor. The rest floats; much of it ends up in gyres and the massive garbage patches that form there, with some plastic eventually washing up on a distant shore. -Our Encounter of the Fifth Kind, Amazon Kindle
Larry Butler
The Pacific Ocean has been dying since the THREE nuclear power plants at Fukushima-Daiichi NPP completely melted down in 2011 and CONTINUE to pour from 400-800 tons of the most toxic radionucleids man ever created into the Pacific ocean current coming off Japan, nearly perfectly at the plant's site, every DAY since 2011, unabated as nothing has been really done to stop it. They have no idea where three nuclear cores are located, somewhere underground now. So, collecting plastic from the New Dead Sea, which might make one feel good, has no effect now that the ocean is under nuclear attack continuously.