3 Oct 2019 - Floating boom finally retains debris from the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, creator says.
A huge floating device designed by Dutch scientists to clean up an island of rubbish in the Pacific Ocean that is three times the size of France has successfully picked up plastic from the high seas for the first time.
Boyan Slat, the creator of the Ocean Cleanup project, tweeted that the 600 metre-long (2,000ft) free-floating boom had captured and retained debris from what is known as the Great Pacific Garbage Patch.
Alongside a picture of the collected rubbish, which includes a car wheel, Slat wrote: “Our ocean cleanup system is now finally catching plastic, from one-ton ghost nets to tiny microplastics! Also, anyone missing a wheel?”
About 600,000 to 800,000 metric tonnes of fishing gear is abandoned or lost at sea each year. Another 8m tonnes of plastic waste flows in from beaches.
Ocean currents have brought a vast patch of such detritus together halfway between Hawaii and California, where it is kept in rough formation by an ocean gyre, a whirlpool of currents. It is the largest accumulation of plastic in the world’s oceans.
The vast cleaning system is designed to not only collect discarded fishing nets and large visible plastic objects, but also microplastics.
The plastic barrier floating on the surface of the sea has a three metre-deep (10ft) screen below it, which is intended to trap some of the 1.8tn pieces of plastic without disturbing the marine life below.
The device is fitted with satellites and sensors so it can communicate its position to a vessel that will collect the gathered rubbish every few months.