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Can this massive invention save our oceans?

How can we solve the problem of plastic pollution in our oceans? Watch this video to find out how a giant ocean 'snake' could help!

jeudi 6 mai Il y a 22 mois
Can this massive invention save our oceans?
Difficile
+20
5 min

If you close your eyes and squint a bit, you could pretend this 600-metre-long tube is some kind of giant ocean snake. It's not, though. It's a device with a very special mission – to catch the ocean's rubbish, or at least some of it.

It's being towed out to a part of the Pacific Ocean known as the Great Garbage Patch. The water currents here happen to make lots of plastic rubbish drift together, and I mean lots – an area almost the size of Queensland.

Until now, it's been too difficult, too big, and too expensive to do much about it. That was until this guy came along, Boyan Slat. This snake thing was his idea, and it all started when he was still at school.

'I realised, back in high school, there might be an alternative.'

For a school project, he designed a system of floating barriers that would be up to 100 kilometres long. They'd sit in the path of ocean currents, in a V-shape, to capture and funnel any floating plastic. Then these giant towers would suck it all up.

'Instead of going after the plastics, you could simply wait for the plastic to come to you.'

We've spent a lot of time telling you about plastic pollution on BTN.

'Yup, a recent study found that Aussies discard more than 9 billion pieces of plastic every year. Unlike paper or cardboard, plastic takes a really, really long time to break down.'

'I've come to realise that our precious marine life are getting killed by the so-called innocent plastic bag.'

But finding solutions hasn't been easy, and with so much plastic already in our oceans killing our marine life, Boyan and his organisation, Ocean Cleanup, are hopeful they can tackle the problem, one giant snake at a time.

'I mean, this is pretty incredible. I mean, something that we've been working towards for five years. And just having it seen from the early conceptual sketches to, you know, now the first unit actually going through the Golden Gate and heading to the Garbage Patch is pretty incredible.'

It's aiming to trap some of the 1.8 trillion pieces of plastic that scientists estimate are swirling around here, while still letting marine life safely swim beneath it. It's fitted with solar-powered lights, cameras, sensors and satellite antennas, and the design will make it easy for boats to fish out the collected plastic every few months and transport it to dry land where it will be recycled.

Boyan is now 24, and despite the years of work that have gone into this, he says the system will still get some more tweaks in the coming months.

The hope is to take it even further, by letting 60 of these giant snakes loose on the Pacific Ocean by 2020.

That's a lot of hungry snakes who surely won't be going hungry. But hopefully they do, at some point.

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