Scientists and volunteers track trash in ocean In this Aug. 2, 2015, photo provided by The Ocean Cleanup shows, Mega Expedition crew members, Mario Merkus, left, and Serena Cunsolo on mother ship R/V Ocean Starr with the results of trawling with one 6 meter-wide net for one hour in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. (The Ocean Cleanup via AP)
Scientists and volunteers track trash in ocean
Lexile

Far away from California's coast, where the Pacific Ocean currents swirl, the blue of the sea was replaced. It was switched with fishing nets, buckets, buoys, laundry baskets and unidentifiable pieces of plastic. They floated past the Ocean Starr. It is a ship that was carrying a team of scientists and volunteers. They were gathering data on plastic garbage.
 
"We were surrounded by an endless layer of garbage," sad Serena Cunsolo. She is an Italian marine biologist who works for The Ocean Cleanup. "It was devastating to see."
 
Cunsolo who is 28-years-old, was one of a team of 15 researchers and volunteers aboard the Ocean Starr. The ship set out this summer from San Francisco. It headed out to study the plastic waste. The trip was part of the "Mega Expedition." The trip was a major step in the organization's effort to eventually clean up what's known as the Great Pacific Garbage Patch.
 
The 171-foot mother ship carried massive white bags. They were filled with plastic garbage. The vessel returned to San Francisco along with two sailing boats with volunteers who helped collect the garbage samples.
 
Most of the trash they found, including a 1-ton fishing net, is medium to large-sized pieces, as opposed to confetti-like plastic shards. The smaller pieces can easily enter the food chain. That is after being eaten by small fish and birds. They are extremely difficult to clean up, said Boyan Slat. He founded The Ocean Cleanup and has developed a technology. He says it can start removing the garbage by 2020.
 
"It was a good illustration of why it is such an urgent thing to clean up. Because if we don't clean it up soon, then we'll give the big plastic time to break into smaller and smaller pieces," Slat said.
 
Volunteer crews on 30 boats have been measuring the size and mapping the location of tons of plastic waste floating between the West Coast and Hawaii. According to some estimates, the area is twice the size of Texas.
 
Slat said the group will publish a report of its findings by mid-2016. After that, the group hopes to test out a 1-mile barrier. It would collect garbage near Japan. The ultimate goal is the construction of a 60-mile barrier in the middle of the Pacific.
 
The expedition was sponsored by The Ocean Cleanup. It's an organization founded by Slat. He is a 21-year-old innovator from the Netherlands. Slat has envisioned using long-distance floating barriers that will attach to the seabed with an anchoring system used by oil-drilling rigs. The devices will target ocean currents full of waste. The barriers would skim garbage from the surface. Meanwhile, aquatic life and the currents themselves pass underneath.
 
He first became passionate about cleaning the oceans of plastic while diving in the Mediterranean Sea five years ago. "I was diving in Greece and realized that there were more plastic bags than fish. And I wondered why can't we clean this up," Slat said.
 
After dropping out of university after his first six months, Slat dedicated his life to developing the technology the group will start testing next year.
 
He decided to launch a Kickstarter campaign and raised about $2.27 million that helped to launch his organization. Soon, his ground-breaking solution got the attention of major philanthropists in Europe and Silicon Valley. One was Salesforce.com CEO Marc Benioff. The philanthropists are helping pay for the data-gathering efforts and the technology's development.
 
The Pacific expedition will end in mid-September. It will gather data that will be more extensive than what has been collected in the past 40 years. It also will give a better estimate of the how much plastic waste is in the Pacific Ocean.
 
The boaters are using GPS and a smartphone app to search for and record the plastic. They take samples. Then they ship them to the Netherlands. There, the plastics are counted and recorded.
 
The Great Pacific Garbage Patch was discovered by Charles J. Moore in 1997 as he returned home from the Transpacific Yacht Race, which starts in Los Angeles and ends in Honolulu.

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CRITICAL THINKING QUESTION
Why is it important to track the trash?
Write your answers in the comments section below


COMMENTS (131)
  • TaylorSeifert-Ste
    9/11/2015 - 10:50 p.m.

    It's extremely disappointing that humans have let the world get this bad. The Earth provides people with everything they need to live, yet people take all that for granted and choose to care only for themselves and not the environment. There are those who and trying their best to fix the mess we have made, but sadly it seems like there are just too many people who could care less.

  • payack,brian-cas
    9/12/2015 - 06:46 p.m.

    It is important to track trash because it can lead us to where all the trash is and so we help clean the ocean out so we don't kill any more marine life. My opinion about this article is that they are doing a great thing by collecting trash near Japan, Hawaii, and Greece. I also think they did a great cause by helping out wild marine life so they don't eat any of the plastic.

  • melissaj-Ste
    9/12/2015 - 07:59 p.m.

    I have previously heard about this giant gathering of trash bigger than Texas in the middle of the ocean. The idea that people deliberately release their plastic objects to the wind's command, which then end up in the ocean, is sickening. I might have my own carbon footprint, but I at least try to keep it to a minimum.

  • emilyb-kne
    9/14/2015 - 10:09 a.m.

    I think it is important to clean and track the trash because if the trash breaks up into smaller pieces the fish will eat it and get sick. If the fish get sick there will be know more fishing otherwise if you eat a fish you will get sick.

  • Jason0421-YYCA
    9/14/2015 - 01:09 p.m.

    I think that it is great for volunteers and a team of scientists to have been able to collect samples of the garbage. I believe that if they were to do more research, they will one day figure out how to get rid of the plastic in the ocean. I think that what Slat did, is something inspiring.

  • john-hym
    9/14/2015 - 02:12 p.m.

    It is important to track trash becaus if you leave the trash it will hurt the sea animals.

  • christopher-hym
    9/14/2015 - 02:14 p.m.

    It is important to track the trash because sealife will think that the trash is food and eat the trash and die

  • teanna-hym
    9/14/2015 - 02:15 p.m.

    So it does not go into the ocean

    • student2-tho
      10/05/2015 - 02:43 p.m.

      yes it goes into the ocean


  • giovanni-hym
    9/14/2015 - 02:16 p.m.

    It is in portent to clean up plastic because the animals will think it is food.????

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