Technology aiding the ocean’s big clean up

The world’s oceans are becoming ever more polluted and are changing faster and in more ways than at any point in human history. In 2018’s desperate call for action to protect marine ecosystems, here are 3 organisations that are attempting to make a difference for the future of the ocean using technology.

The SeaBin, created by two Australian surfers Andrew Turton and Pete Ceglinski, is a bucket with a pump and water filtration system that is able to suck an estimated 1.5 kg of floating debris including microplastics up to 2mm small. The bucket includes an optional water-oil separator system that filters oil out of the ocean, releasing clean water at the other end of the pump.

 

This is such a clever idea... Introducing the Seabin, which sucks in rubbish, oil and fuel, cleaning up the ocean

Andrew Turton and Pete Ceglinski– Lion Media Production

Owners of the technology are still developing their prototype, however a small quantity has been installed at marinas around the world, including San Diego and Finland. The product went on sale to the public at the end of 2017.

The pacific Garbage patch is the world’s largest collection of floating trash situated between Hawaii and California. Products you can expect find among the waste are plastic bags, food packaging and cigarette butts.

On average, 250 million people worldwide succumb to diseases related to water pollution

When Boyan Slat first presented his plan to clear half of the patch four years ago, he was just a teenager. Now set to launch this year, the 22-year-old and his organisation, The Ocean Cleanup, have developed a V-shaped system around 1-2km in length, designed to collect the plastic pollution at the ocean’s surface as the current pushes it along. Instead of using nets, the cleanup system is to be equipped with a unique impermeable screen that will catch sub-surface debris while sea life safely passes underneath the screen with the current. The system will also function solely on renewable sources; the natural ocean currents and do not require an external energy source to catch and concentrate the plastic and all the electronics used such as lights and AIS, are powered by solar energy.

Last but not least, SoFi- the robotic fish is an ingenious example of how scientists at MIT CSAIL are finding out about life underneath the waves. With a camera on board, SoFi is able to mimic the movement of fish, taking high-resolution photos and videos in the hope to guide aquatic life from dangers and help clean up pollution below the surface. Its electrical parts are contained inside a soft silicone body and can swim at depths of 50 feet. Its coolest feature, however, may be the fact that it can move autonomously through waters or be controlled with a waterproof Nintendo controller.

Source – BBC News

BBC’s blue planet II uncovered the impact that our modern lives are having on sea creatures, witnessing albatross feeding their young discarded plastics. Scientists have also found that plastic breaks down into microplastics in aquatic environments and are digested by animals, which could potentially lead to cross-contamination exposing these pollutants to their newborn babies via the mother’s milk.

Cleaning up the ocean using conventional methods such as vessels and nets would take thousands of years and ten of billions of pounds to complete. With the development of new technology, we may actually be able to see a difference in our lifetime.

 

Jasmine Amara

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