Ocean cleanup update: might system 03 be the one to clean up our seas?

So for anyone who has not read my articles or seen the ocean cleanup YouTube channel (I will include their latest video below), the ocean cleanup is a company set up by a young man called Boyan Slat in 2013.

He set it up after going diving, and finding that there was significantly more plastic on the reef than fish.

Currently the company has two methods to try to deal with this problem.

Firstly: river interceptor: this vessel is a very well designed system, which is put in one of the 1000 world wide rivers which calculations show will catch 80% of the plastic that goes down the worlds rivers – this is only about 5% of the worlds rivers. Below is a video of the clip that they made to explain how the Interceptor works. There are interceptors out in the field, but at the current time, less than 10.

How we turn off the tap, and stop the majority of plastic flowing into the sea

Then the second, perhaps more complex task. When plastic sinks or breaks down it becomes almost impossible to collect (we need to keep an eye on coral reefs, mangroves and kelp forests, which naturally catch these microplastics, but if they are not removed they can on occasion wash back into the sea). It is also the case that when they have too much plastic around their base, they can be suffocated by it. As a result, around the world we need to be harvesting this naturally caught plastic, and making sure it does not find its way back into the sea.

So this second task, is to catch ocean plastic. The vast majority of ocean plastic finds its way to a series of gyres around the world. The biggest, the Pacific gyre has an estimated 79,000 tonnes of plastic. Having found a system that works, they are now scaling it up. Their solution calls for 2 boats to tow a large net through the gyre collecting the plastic in the middle.

System 3 scales this up to large size, with nets several miles long. It also adds a third boat, which is able to deal with plastic problems in the large system, but is also able to allow the system to stay at sea full time, with the boats taking it in turn to head to shore, change crew, and offload their precious cargo of plastic that they have caught.

If this succeeds, then in a few short decades at the outside, the ocean cleanup will remove the vast majority of plastic from the sea. This is a human health problem as well as a marine life issue – we already eat microplastics, if they increase much more they will start to threaten human life on a large scale

I for one am really excited. I have not visited a great number of reefs, and those I have, have been relatively small. Never-the-less even here there has been plenty of plastic. The idea that by the time my children have children of their own, this might be a problem of the past is fantastic.

There are many fascinating videos on their YouTube channel, do visit.

Boyan Slat is quite a inspirational person. While the problems that this website seeks to deal with are far more varied – trying to find ways to protect as much of the natural world as possible. It is also true that in the ocean plastics problem can in theory end – that is, if we find ways to stop new plastics getting into the sea, and deal with what is now there, the issue of ocean plastics will end.

The task that this site is trying to complete, is largely never-ending. we aim to do two things. Our hope is to simplify wildlife travel – fill our website with accurate information on many different places as well as the tools to book to visit. This ranges from “wild places” (greater limpopo, kalahari zambezi, serengeti), where generally people do not live “in the shadow of mankind” near people (wolves and bears beavers etc in Europe, cheetah and other fascinating animals elsewhere) whether these are animals that can be seen with little planning, or hides – which makes viewing bears and other animals easier to do without alarming the wildlife. I hope that like the Ocean Cleanup, we will have largely succeeded in the next few decades, though this will only happen if people help. We already have forms on this site (list your wild place) at the top menu on the front page of this website. We need the buy-in of locals, the site works on the assumption that we can pass them onto a local (though it is all readable for free) – after all one of the most important aspects of protecting wilderness is buy-in of the local population (in the same way that the ocean cleanup does). This website takes a small commission on bookings that go through us. Do consider helping us and joining us in this important work. For those particularly keen, do consider becoming a member

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