MOUNTAIN VIEW, California – The patch of garbage floating in the currents of Hawaii and California is far worse than previously thought.
A reconnaissance flight taken in a modified C-130 Hercules aircraft found a vast clump of mainly plastic debris. The density of rubbish was several times higher than Ocean Cleanup, a foundation partially funded by the Dutch government to rid the oceans of plastics, expected to find even at the heart of the patch, where most of the waste is concentrated.
“Normally when you do an aerial survey of dolphins or whales, you make a sighting and record it.” Boyan Slat, the founder of the Ocean Cleanup, told The Guardian.” That was the plan for this survey. But then we opened the door and we saw the debris everywhere. Every half-second you see something. So we had to take snapshots — it was impossible to record everything. It was bizarre to see that much garbage in what should be pristine ocean.”
Initial estimates of the experienced observer crew indicate that in a span of 2.5 hours, over a thousand items were counted.
The Ocean Cleanup Project is set to conduct further aerial surveys in preparation for the development of its strategy to begin plastic cleanup. In 2020, the foundation plans to deploy a network of extremely long floating barriers that will remain stationary in the water, enabling the ocean to concentrate the plastic using its own currents.