Technology That Will Save The Ocean
Although this might sound make-believe, I assure you that it is 100% true. Located in the Pacific Ocean, gently floating to wherever the sea takes it, lies a patch of land. This landmass is estimated to cover an area stretching more than 1.6 million square miles. This mass is 2 times bigger than the state of Texas and 3 times bigger than France. However, it is not exactly a patch of land floating in the ocean between California and Hawaii. It is a floating mass of garbage!
The Mass Of The GPGP
The Great Pacific Garbage Patch or GPGP is the largest out of the five patches of garbage that are floating in the world’s oceans. It is estimated that anywhere between 1.15 and 2.41 million metric tons of plastic are making their way into the ocean each year. One metric ton is equal to 2,205 lbs. That is a lot of plastic waste! And most of that plastic is less dense than the ocean water. This means that the plastic won’t sink. And this is how the Great Pacific Garbage Patch was formed. And why it is two times larger than Texas.
The Great Pacific Garbage Patch is one big floating island of plastic and waste. It is estimated that the GPGP has a weigh of 80,000 metric tons. That is 176,400,000 lbs of plastic. So the GPGP weighs more than 500 jumbo jets. It is estimated that there are 1.8 trillion pieces of plastic that form the GPGP. This is sadly equivalent to every human being on this planet throwing 250 water bottles into the ocean each. Researchers have found items dating back as late as the 1970s. And with the earth’s population continuing to litter, the GPGP is just going to keep growing and growing.
The GPGPs Impact On Humans And Wildlife
With the GPGP floating out in the middle of the ocean, you would think that it would only have a negative effect on marine wildlife. The GPGP not only affects marine wildlife, but it affects humans as well. There is 180 times more plastic than there is marine wildlife. Studies have shown that about 700 different species have encountered debris in the ocean. And a lot of these species are on the IUCN red list of threatened species. A lot of the plastic making up the GPGP is toxic. And there are a lot of surface feeding marine animals that eat this toxic plastic.
So how does this affect humans? It affects humans through a process called bioaccumulation. Bioaccumulation is the process where chemicals found in plastics will enter into the body of the animal that eats it. As these animals become prey, either by a larger animal or by humans, the toxins from the plastic can transfer over. So humans can be affected by the GPGP and could possibly fall ill because of the toxins in the plastic. So are we supposed to just watch this toxic island float around in the Pacific Ocean? The answer is absolutely not!
The Tech That Will Clean The Ocean
The ocean is big, very big. Using boats and nets to clean up the Great Pacific Garbage Patch would take thousands of years, as well as millions of dollars. However, a system has been created that will be able to remove half of the GPGP in about 5 years and at half the cost. This ocean cleaning system consists of a 600-meter long floater that sits on top of the water. This floater has a tapered 3-meter long skirt that goes under the water. The floater gives buoyancy to the system and prevents the garbage from flowing over it. While the skirt under the water stops the debris from escaping underneath.
The oceans current pushes both the plastic debris and the system floating at the surface. However, because the floater is sticking partly out of the water, the wind allows the floater to travel faster than the plastic. This allows the system to trap all the plastic. This system can trap the plastic floating on the ocean’s surface without hurting any marine wildlife. The name of this plastic catching system is The Ocean Cleanup System 001.
The Ocean Cleanup System 001 is an amazing invention that is equipped with a lot of technology. This state of the art technology consists of 2 satellite pods, 2 navigation pods, a camera pod, 9 lanterns, and over 50 sensors. The 2 satellite pods allow the Ocean Cleanup team to communicate with the system. They can remotely retrieve images and GPS locations and get the information sent back to their headquarters in the Netherlands. There is a navigation pod located on each end of the system. These pods are very important. Each one is equipped with a weather station and an AIS, which stands for Automatic Identification System. The Automatic Identification System shares the location of the System 001 with other ships, to prevent any collisions.
Located in the middle of the system is the camera pod. Attached to the pod are 2 high definition cameras that can give a 360-degree view. The 9 lanterns are attached to the system every 100 meters. These lanterns make sure that the system is visible to other vessels that may be in the area. The 50 sensors are placed all along the system, their job is to monitor the integrity of the system.
The Ocean Cleanup System 101 is an amazing invention. And the creators are constantly looking for ways to improve it so they can continue the fight to remove all the plastic from the oceans. There are ways that you can help in this fight as well. Recycling your waste is a great step that you can do to help the oceans. Another is to stop buying bottled water and get a reusable bottle. This will help stop a lot of plastic from entering the ocean. And every little bit counts.