“Floating Islands” of Garbage in Our Oceans: Project Kaisei

Artists for A Pristine PlanetFloating islands of garbage would be the easiest to remove from our oceans. But instead, we’re dealing with tons of tiny plastic pieces, mostly floating just below the surface.

Project Kaisei, one of the expeditions to research and clean the Pacific Patch, was supported by Scripps Institution of Oceanography, and Brita.

Project Kaisei consisted of a team of ocean lovers, scientists, sailors and environmentalists who came together to study how to capture the plastic waste and also how to detoxify and recylce it into fuel.

The team used unmanned aircraft and robotic surface explorers to explore the trash vortex, measuring height and depth; and collected up to 40 tons of garbage for testing, using patented catch methods to remove the debris. A second project is set to start 18 months after the Project Kaisei mission.

The Scripps Institution also contributed to the SEAPLEX expedition: Scripps researchers spent 19 days on the ocean in 2009 researching the Patch. They were also looking at the impact of plastic mesoplegaic fish, like laternfish. They used a oceanographic research vessel, 170 ft long and aptly named New Horizon.

The Kaisei project was jointly funded by Mary Cowley, who has been sailing most of her life and ran a yacht catering business for many years.

Recently she has undertaken the collosal challenge of studying and cleaning the great Garbage Patch. Her aim is to help further scientific study of the effect plastic has on life, (marine and human) as well as to collect plastic debris and set up a recycling project.

Stay tuned to hear about another Garbage Patch project in a couple of days….

Image: Garbage Patch http://treehugger.com



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