In a historic milestone for oceanic conservation, the much-anticipated Ocean Cleanup initiative that was created by a Dutch teenager has successfully set sail and is now undergoing its final round of tests before it begins tidying up the Great Pacific Garbage Patch.
The ingenious vessel that has been designed to tackle the massive trash island left San Francisco Bay on September 9th and began testing on September 19th.
The vessel, which has been dubbed System 001 (or “Wilson”), traveled 350 nautical miles away from the coast to fulfill its 5-item checklist before taking on the garbage patch.
According to the Ocean Cleanup organization, one of the tests has already been successfully checked off the list. Testing is only expected to take one more week before it can tackle the patch.
Once completed, System 001 will be towed the remaining 1,000 nautical miles to the patch to begin the cleanup. The team has already started publishing groundbreaking evidence of their technology successfully in action.
“Consider it a final dress rehearsal before the main performance—cleaning plastic from the ocean,” the organization said in a statement.
“Confirming these objectives will provide us with the understanding to know if the system is up for the challenge it’s set to face in the patch. Should we encounter any issues, it is much easier to tow the system back to shore from here than it would be all the way from the patch.”
Here is the checklist System 001 needs to fulfill at the test site before it can head to the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. 1 down, 4 to go. pic.twitter.com/cYVxs9KQJR— The Ocean Cleanup (@TheOceanCleanup) September 18, 2018
This patch is a massive island of trash drifting halfway between California and Hawaii. Over a trillion pieces of debris have collected there because of the swirling vortex of current—a floating mass roughly twice the size of Texas.
After discovering the patch in the 90s, scientists said it would take thousands of years to clean it up—but Boyan Slat said in his TEDx talk that he could do it in less than ten, if he could get his special machinery built.
Though his claim caused many skeptics to raise their eyebrows, Slat dropped out of college so he could bring his plans to life. In addition to crowdfunding $2.2 million for his idea, he garnered millions more dollars through interested investors.
His nonprofit, the Ocean Cleanup Project, now employs 70 engineers, researchers, and scientists. With boats arriving to clean up the trash every six to eight weeks, Slat estimates that half of the patch will be collected in five years.
“I am incredibly grateful for the tremendous amount of support we have received over the past few years from people around the world, that has allowed us to develop, test, and launch a system with the potential to begin to mitigate an this ecological disaster,” says Slat.
You can follow System 001’s progress and location via the tracker on the Ocean Cleanup website.
Clean Up Negativity By Sharing The Good News With Your Friends – Photo by the Ocean Cleanup