What You Might Have Missed: Cleaning the Great Pacific Garbage Patch

Not all news about the environment is bad news: new technology for cleaning up our oceans has officially begun to work! The Ocean Cleanup recently announced that their floating plastic collecting device, called System 001/B, has successfully gathered its first portion of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch.

 

What is the Great Pacific Garbage Patch?

Image: National Geographic

According to National Geographic, “The Great Pacific Garbage Patch is a collection of marine debris in the North Pacific Ocean. Marine debris is litter that ends up in oceans, seas, and other large bodies of water.” This litter is primarily composed of discarded fishing equipment and plastic, as plastic does not readily decompose. The debris ends up collecting in a centralized area due to the ocean’s currents. Though this name often evokes an image of a floating island of trash, much of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch is actually composed of tiny microplastics.

 

What is System 001/B? How does it work?

Image: Ocean Cleanup

System 001/B is a 2,000-foot-long floating tube designed by Dutch scientists, and is entirely self-contained. It floats around the Great Pacific Garbage Patch at the mercy of the currents. Its 10-foot screen hangs below the ocean’s surface collecting debris both large and small - as small as 1mm in fact! The screen lies shallow enough so that the majority of marine life are not disturbed by its presence. System 001/B also has a sea anchor to slow its movement so that more debris may be collected. Periodically, a vessel collects the debris collected and returns it to shore to be recycled.

 

Why does cleaning our oceans matter?

Marine debris is extremely harmful to living things both in and dependent upon the ocean. Many animals mistakenly consume debris because of it often appears similar in nature to their food sources. Abandoned fishing nets often trap turtles, seals, and fish, causing them to starve. The litter also blocks sunlight from reaching photosynthetic organisms such as algae and plankton. Loss of algae and plankton can lead to loss of the animals that feed on them, and eventually affect the supply of seafood for human consumption.

 

To find out more about the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, visit: https://www.nationalgeographic.org/encyclopedia/great-pacific-garbage-patch/

For more information about The Ocean Cleanup, go to: https://theoceancleanup.com/

 

HCXO and recycle your plastic,

Rachel