The Largest Floating Structure in History Has a Very Important Ecology Job
If you are like me, when you hear about the “largest floating structure in the world”, you might immediately conjure images of some giant floating monstrosity of a cruise liner carrying a bunch of tourists across a desolate stretch of ocean. THANKFULLY, that is not the case – in reality, the largest floating structure in history is much, much more important than being a floating hotel.
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2 years ago an 18-year-old kid by the name of Boyan Slat set out to change the world. He founded The Ocean Cleanup, with one objective in mind: to tackle the pollution epidemic that our Oceans are facing.
(from The Ocean Cleanup)
The Ocean Cleanup has designed a system that will collect the plastic trash that we have so carelessly discarded for decades. Their pilot system is 2.1 miles long, and will be in place for 2 years. According to The Ocean Cleanup Website:
“The coastal array will be the first time an operational Ocean Cleanup system is to be deployed in the ocean. Spanning 2000 meters (and with a barrier length of over 2300m), it will become the longest floating structure ever deployed on the oceans, even though this will be just 2% of the full-scale structure. Deployment is expected in Q2 2016. On May 20, The Ocean Cleanup and the city government of Tsushima (a Japanese island which lies between Japan and Korea) jointly agreed to conduct research to bring the world’s first ocean cleanup array to Tsushima Island.”
So How Does Ocean Cleanup Work?
“Why move through the oceans, if the oceans can move through you? Instead of going after the plastic using boats and nets, The Ocean Cleanup will use long floating barriers, using the natural movement of the ocean currents to passively concentrate the plastic itself.”
“Virtually all of the current flows underneath these booms, taking away all (neutrally buoyant) sea life, preventing by-catch while the lighter-than-water plastic collects in front of the floating barrier.”
“The scalable array of floating barriers, attached to the seabed, is designed for large-magnitude deployment, covering millions of square kilometers without moving a centimeter.”
(images and text via The Ocean Cleanup)
The Ocean Cleanup is far from just a concept, it has actually already been proven to work. The initial tests have all shown that the system is effective. So effective, in fact, that initial research estimates that The Ocean Cleanup could eliminate the Great Pacific Garbage Patch in just 10 years – and can do it in a manner that costs 33 times less money, and is 7,900 faster than the current boat and net methods.