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Will the Oceans Soon Be Clean?

Every year, over 8 million tons of plastic trash gets dumped into the ocean. The trash is not only unsightly, but also a serious hazard to marine life. Animals get stuck in bags and other bits of plastic; others try to eat the garbage thinking it’s food, and many end up hurt or worse. This information may cause one to ask if this is the legacy we’re leaving for future generations.

Ocean Cleanup
 
Ocean Cleanup

Knowing this, Boyan Slat – a 20-year-old man from the Netherlands, has been trying to find a solution. Finally, he came up with an ingenious way that will allow the ocean to clean itself (with a little help).

Ocean Cleanup

The plan is to set up specially-designed floating barriers in key locations around the globe. These locations are gyres – large system of circular ocean currents that are formed by global winds and the Earth’s rotation. The gyres circulate the ocean water around the Earth, making them the ideal location to trap all of the garbage.

Ocean Cleanup
 
Ocean Cleanup

Slat created a non-profit organization called Ocean Cleanup, to aid in the funding and deployment of these oceanic barriers. The barriers aren’t nets since nets trap and kill marine animals. Instead, they are large V-shaped buffers. To stay in place, they are anchored not by heavy objects, but rather by large, floating buoys.

Ocean Cleanup
Ocean Cleanup

Water can freely flow under the buoys, allowing animals to pass freely while plastic gets trapped and funneled upwards making it easy to collect and remove.

Ocean Cleanup

Despite many setbacks, it was announced in May of 2015 that the Japanese government decided to deploy the first system in 2016, near the island of Tsushima. The first system will be a 6,500 feet (1.9Km) wide, and it will be the largest floating system in the world.

Ocean Cleanup

The most incredible part of this story, is that Slat raised the funds for his organization over the internet, and his team calculated that by deploying a 62 mile (100km) array, the system will be able to clean up as much as 42% of all of the ocean’s garbage within a decade. If you’re trying to understand the sheer numbers of that, those 42% equals 70,320 tons of waste.

Ocean Cleanup

 

A short video explaining the Ocean Cleanup mission and history:

 
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Related Topics: nature, animals, ocean, marine, clean, plastic, garbage, slat
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