The topic of cleaning, or the ability to clean, plastics from our Oceans is obviously a touchy subject. It drifts on and off the front pages of our news. In our continued effort here at Hobie Surf Shop Blog to bring you “Surf Science” education, we felt the need to share some enlightened thoughts on the cleaning of the five ocean gyres, also known as swirling “Garbage Patches”. We hope to get our resident Surf Scientist, Gary Larson’s, thoughts on the subject soon…..
The Surfers Journal recently ran an article called “Trash Pick Up” touting 19 year old engineering student, Boylan Slat’s, “Ocean Cleanup Array” (see photo interpretation above) as our catch all solution to the problem of plastics in our Seas. The idea behind the Array, is a simple yet complexly designed machine that is anchored in the Ocean and it just sits and waits for the currents to bring the plastics to its outstretched funnels. The plastics are then separated from the plankton and such, stored, collected, then recycled into new plastic products… simple, right?? Not a chance says Stiv Wilson….
As the policy director of the ocean conservation nonprofit 5Gyres.org, I can tell you that the problem of ocean plastic pollution is massive. In case you didn’t know, an ocean gyre is a rotating current that circulates within one of the world’s oceans – and recent research has found that these massive systems are filled with plastic waste. There are no great estimates (at least scientific) on how much plastic is in the ocean, but I can say from firsthand knowledge (after sailing to four of the world’s five gyres) that it’s so pervasive it confounds the senses. Gyre cleanup has often been floated as a solution in the past, and recently Boyan Slat’s proposed ‘Ocean Cleanup Array’ went viral in a big way. The nineteen-year-old claims that the system can clean a gyre in 5 years with ‘unprecedented efficiency’ and then recycle the trash collected. The problem is that the barriers to gyre cleanup are so massive that the vast majority of the scientific and advocacy community believe it’s a fool’s errand – the ocean is big, the plastic harvested is near worthless, and sea life would be harmed. The solutions starts on land.
Continue Reading at the link…