Tag Archives: oceanography

This 19-Year Old Has A Plan To Clean Up Half of The Pacific Garbage Patch In 10 Years (Video)

In the middle of the Pacific Ocean, off the western coast of the United States, lies the Great Pacific Garbage Patch.

It’s tough to say exactly how widespread the island of plastic is; estimates range from 270,000 square miles (slightly larger than Texas), up to 15,000,000 square miles (twice the size of the United States).

An estimation of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. Click to enlarge

Its real size is probably somewhere in the middle, but even at the lowest estimates, the island is massive and only continues to grow every day.

Enter Boyan Slat, a 19-year-old entrepreneur and conservationist from the Netherlands. Boyan has come up with a simple yet ingenious way to clean up half of the plastic in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch in just 10 years, using the ocean’s currents to his advantage. Check out the video below to learn more about it.

Slat claims that half of the garbage patch will be equal to 70 million kilograms of plastic- that’s more than 77,000 tons.

These plastics could be used in a number of ways- we recently reported on the world’s first waste-to-biofuel facility, which converts even non-recyclable plastics into methanol, a useful building block for chemicals and a component of many gasoline blends today.

Slat first publicized his idea at a TEDx conference in his home town of Delft in the Netherlands. You can watch it below to learn more about the details of his plan.

The Great Pacific Garbage Patch is only one of five trash patches around the world. These patches form in gyres, which are basically massive vortexes that form as a result of ocean currents and prevailing winds.

All the floating trash that ends up in our waterways will eventually end up in one of these gyres.

The five gyres. Click to enlarge (Image: Wikimedia Commons)
The five gyres. Click to enlarge (Image: Wikimedia Commons)

If Boyan’s idea proves successful, we could use it worldwide to battle these ever-growing trash islands, while simultaneously turning this trash back into biofuels.

Boyan was recently named one of Intel’s 20 Most Promising Young Entrepreneurs Worldwide. Check out the homepage of his company The Ocean Clean Up.

If you’re curious, here’s a great graphic that shows how long it takes for various pieces of garbage to decompose in the ocean. Click the image to see the full size version.

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This Guy Just Used a Drone to Capture Breathtaking Footage of a Dolphin Stampede

Captain Dave Anderson is the founder of Capt. Dave’s Dolphin and Whale Safari in Dana Point, California.

The dolphins, joined by a few gray whales, are migrating down the coast of San Clemente in California.

Insane GoPro Footage Shows You What It’s Like to be Chased by a Hungry Shark (Video)

This footage was captured off the coast of Ocean City, Maryland in July 2013. Makos (the species of shark in the video) are the fastest sharks in the world, reaching speeds up to 60mph in short bursts. The corny “Jaws” theme in the background was not my idea by the way…

Blood Falls (Antarctica)

Blood Falls (Antarctica)

No, this is not a grisly murder scene. The “blood” you see is actually saltwater that is rich in iron-oxide (the scientific name for rust) seeping out of a fissure (or crack) in the glacier. The source of this reddened-saltwater is a reservoir buried under 400m of ice and located a few kilometers away from the fissure it flows from.

Government Shutdown Causing Crucial Data Gaps in Antarctica

Government Shutdown Causing Crucial Data Gaps in Antarctica

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Loss of funding due to the government shutdown has caused researchers at Palmer Station in Antarctica to basically go into sustenance mode, as they are forced to conserve resources, not knowing when or even if their funding will return. This means that there are no longer resources to collect crucial data on ocean chemistry and biology, as well as data being collected for a study on the correlation between population crashes in the local Adélie penguin species (pictured below) and loss of sea ice which has been continuously collected since the 1970s.