Can We Stop "Growing" the Great Ocean Garbage Gyres?

By PSU EcoMerge Capstone - 8:25 PM


Not only can we stop them from growing--we can eliminate them altogether, according to Boyan Slat (pictured above), by simply gathering and skimming them off in the Great Ocean Cleanup, scheduled to begin in Fall 2017.


As we continue to feed the Great Pacific Garbage Patch (big surprise--the Atlantic has one,
too), an issue remains: to stop trash from entering our oceans, its place of origin must be identified. According to theoceancleanup.com, the number one major source of trash in our oceans is rivers.

Would it be preposterous to suggest skimming the trash off the water’s surface? Boyan Slat (http://www.boyanslat.com/), a 23-year-old inventor from the Netherlands, thinks it’s not. In fact, he has invented something that no one believed would work...yet, according to his article at boyanslat.com, Slat has devised a system that is powered by the ocean’s currents, and through this action does the preposterous: the plastic concentrates itself into precise areas and is then easily removed, “reducing the theoretical cleanup time from millennia to mere years” (boyanslat.com). His invention is a skimming apparatus, which spans multiple miles of ocean and picks up concentrated plastic debris--even small particles--without disturbing oceanic wildlife. While it appeared that this idea would cost far too much to realistically operate, the opposite has proven true: the collected plastic is sold off (to be made into other products), and, since there is so much of it, profits from its sale entirely offset the cost of operation. The Great Ocean Cleanup, as it has been named, is a major game changer; a miracle we never thought we’d see. And it isn’t years off. The Great Ocean Cleanup actually begins this fall.
A simulation of The Great Ocean Cleanup, slated for Fall 2017! Sourced at http://www.marinescene.asia/rivers-emit-millions-of-metric-tons-of-plastic-to-oceans/13543

According to the Smithsonian page, Ocean Portal: “An estimated 5 tons of plastic are fed to albatross chicks each year at Midway Atoll” (www.ocean.si.edu). This single species is the unwitting representative of what is consumed by those countless species we don’t see, which either live below the ocean’s surface, which live part-time on land, or have died due to the contents of their stomachs. The need for Slat’s innovative solution to this mounting problem is clear and urgent. He has provided hope for all of us--especially those who cannot tell the difference between a tasty morsel and a death warrant.

        


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