July 31, 2015 – This weekend The Ocean Cleanup, a Dutch foundation developing technologies to rid the oceans of plastic, sets sail on the Mega Expedition. The fleet of around 30 vessels departs Honolulu, gathering data to find out how much plastic is floating in the Pacific Ocean. This operation is in preparation of the large-scale cleanup of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, which is scheduled to begin by 2020.
The fleet will be covering a 1.4 million square mile area between Hawaii and the US West Coast, creating the first high-resolution map of plastic in the Pacific. If successful, the Mega Expedition will collect more data in three weeks’ time, than was gathered in the last 40 years combined.
During the expedition, vessels will make approximately 50 crossings to conduct surveys on the amount of plastic they encounter. The crews will be using a trawling net to sample small debris and ‘The Ocean Cleanup survey app’ which will be used on smartphones to count larger debris.
Serving as the fleet’s mothership is the 171ft R/V Ocean Starr. A former NOAA research vessel, the Ocean Starr has been specially fitted with an aerial camera system and giant nets to study large objects, such as ghost nets and tsunami debris.
The Ocean Cleanup CEO and founder Boyan Slat: “To further develop our cleanup technology, it is essential to know how much plastic is out there. The Mega Expedition should answer that question for us. My sincere thanks go out to the crews of the participating vessels for making this crazy idea a reality.”