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article imageMega Expedition to set sail for Great Pacific Garbage Patch

By Robert Myles     Apr 21, 2015 in Environment
Los Angeles - On Monday, environmental campaigning organization, Ocean Cleanup, founded by young Dutchman, Boyan Slat, unveiled its Mega Expedition, a massive research undertaking to assess the Great Pacific Garbage Patch.
Mega Expedition has the combined support of Transpac, the Trans Pacific Yacht Race and the Port of Los Angeles. This year’s Transpac is scheduled to depart Aloha, Hawaii in mid-July.
In conjunction with Transpac, Mega Expedition promises to be the largest research expedition in history. It will see up to 50 vessels set off in August 2015 to examine the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, a gyre of marine debris, plastic particles and chemical sludge that now covers a vast area of the central North Pacific Ocean.
The flotilla of small vessels will collect more plastic measurements in the space of just three weeks than have been gathered in the past 40 years. The Mega Expedition fleet will survey an area of ocean extending to 3,500,000 square kilometers between Hawaii and California in parallel. The aim is to create the first high-resolution map of plastic in the Pacific Ocean.
Ocean Cleanup is the brainchild of 20-year-old Dutchman, Boyan Slat. Despite his youth, Slat is something of a veteran environmentalist. When still a teenager in high school, Slat devised a means of cleaning up the world’s oceans.
Slat’s since gone on to found environmental campaign group Ocean Cleanup, where’s he’s CEO. Last year, as earlier reported in Digital Journal, Slat became the youngest ever winner of the United Nations’ top environmental accolade, the Champions of the Earth Award for his inspirational work to clean up the world’s oceans.
Slat’s invention was simplicity itself. Instead of going after the plastic, which would take many thousands of years and billions of dollars to complete, Ocean Cleanup proposed the deployment of a 100 kilometer long floating barrier. This would let the ocean currents do the heavy-lifting of plastic collection since ocean currents would then concentrate the plastic themselves. Computer modelling indicates that a single system of this kind, in place for 10 years, would eliminate almost half of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. Ocean Cleanup hopes to start the first sea trials of this passive cleanup technology in the first half of 2016.
Explaining the Mega Expedition concept, Slat said, “When you want to clean the oceans, it is important to know how much plastic is out there. Right now, estimates vary orders of magnitude, due to the small amount of measurements, which furthermore have been taken over very long period. The Mega Expedition will allow us to produce the first-ever high-resolution estimate of the amount of plastic inside the Great Pacific Garbage Patch”.
The Mega Expedition has the support of Transpac which will assist in the recruitment of vessels for this huge undertaking. The City of Los Angeles expects to welcome the novel expedition to its port by end-August.
Welcoming Monday’s Mega Expedition announcement, Eric Garcetti, Mayor of Los Angeles, said, “Increasing our scientific understanding of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch is essential to developing effective solutions. It's this type of creative and large-scale thinking that we need to tackle problems like this. We're proud to be welcoming the Mega Expedition to the Port of Los Angeles this year."
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