May 5th, 2009 by Jeff Pecaro
A group of intrepid activists are making a bid to be the first to undertake a clean-up mission to the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, also know as the Plastic Vortex.
Project Kaisei will sail to out of San Francisco to attempt to remove 40 tons of plastic waste from the 4 million tons believed to be clumped together in the patch. While others have traveled to the north Pacific gyre to raise awareness about plastics before, Project Kaisei is the first to attempt to bring back and recycle the waste on a large scale.
Discovered nearly 13 years ago by Captain Charles Moore, the floating mass of plastic trash sits in the Pacific ocean, around a point approximately forming a triangle with San Francisco and Hawaii, and taking up an area of ocean about the size of Texas, though some estimate it to be much larger.
As the plastic dissolves down into smaller pieces, it chokes fish, sea turtles, and migratory birds. Additionally, as the plastic’s composition breaks down, the patch leeches toxic chemicals into the water column.
Unfortunately, it is unclear how so much plastic garbage could ever be removed from the oceans, and there are concerns that any attempt to pull out the plastic would kill too much wildlife in the process. Even Captain Moore said“Trying to clean up the Pacific gyre would bankrupt any country and kill wildlife in the nets as it went.”
Photo Credit: cesarharada on Flickr under Creative Commons license.
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