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Great Pacific Garbage Patch – yikes, eek, wtf?

Posted by pwl on May 28, 2009

The Great Pacific Garbage Patch, also described as the Eastern Garbage Patch or the Pacific Trash Vortex, is a gyre of marine litter in the central North Pacific Ocean located roughly between 135° to 155°W and 35° to 42°N estimated to be twice the size of Texas. The patch is characterized by exceptionally high concentrations of suspended plastic and other debris that have been trapped by the currents of the North Pacific Gyre. Despite its size and density, however, the patch is not visible from satellite photography.

Vessel KAISEI is a brigantine, a two-masted vessel square rigged on the foremast, with fore-and-aft sails on the mainmast Over the years she has visited 15 nations with crews from 26 countries and covered 40,000 nautical miles (around 80,000 km) Purchased and operated in 1991 by the Sail Training Association of Japan and renamed KAISEI, which means “Ocean Planet”.

In 1992 sailed with the Columbus fleet, flying the UN flag. KAISEI’s maiden voyage lasted 16 months throughout Europe, East Coast US, Caribbean, Panama Canal, West Coast US and Pacific Islands covering 57,000km. During this time period, the vessel flew the United Nations flag. Under Japanese flag she traveled throughout the Pacific and Asia. Carried over 10,000 trainees during the 14 year period.

OCEAN VOYAGES INSTITUTE Currently operated by Ocean Voyages Institute (Sausalito, Calif.) a non-profit 501(c)3 organization formed in 1979 by a group of international sailors, educators and conservationists whose mission is to teach maritime arts and sciences through the researching and preservation of the world’s oceans.

KAISEI has been operated to promote the preservation of the world’s oceans and maritime arts and sciences and has been involved in variety of educational and awareness projects over the past years which has seen her sailing in British Columbia, Canada, along the West Coast of the United States and Mexico.

Project Kaisei will utilize the vessel Kaisei as the figurehead and focal point in an innovative research expedition to the North Pacific Gyre.

Ocean Voyages Institute in conjunction with a team of international innovators, ocean lovers, sailors,scientists and environmentalists collaborated to launch Project Kaisei. Project Kaisei is seeking viable solutions for the problems associated with plastic waste in the Pacific Ocean’s “Plastic Vortex”, in area estimated to be twice the size of Texas.

This initial expedition will document and systematically examine refuse materials for identification while testing the best catch methods which can be utilized in collecting the waste in the Plastic Vortex for future reprocessing while at the same time maintaining the integrity of the ocean environment and without endangering sea life.

Project Kaisei has been Recognized by the United Nations – Environment Program and recently selected as one of less than ten global “Climate Heroes” in the lead up to the Copenhagen talks on climate change this December. Project Kaisei also has been endorsed by National Geographic who will be collaborating on the distribution of the documentary film. Project Kaisei is currently looking to continue the ground swell of support from individual donations, family foundations and corporations to further this necessary goal.

5 Responses to “Great Pacific Garbage Patch – yikes, eek, wtf?”

  1. One way to prevent plastic waste piling up in our oceans is to encourage people to use oxo-biodegradable plastic for all their day-to-day needs.

    ‘Oxo-bio’ plastic, as it is known, is the only form of degradable plastic which is guaranteed to disappear completely to a pre-set timespan. In other words, you can ‘tell’ it when to degrade and you can do so while it is being manufactured.

    Once it has degraded, it leaves nothing behind: no fragments, particles, or debris of any kind. It is also free of any metheane emissions, even if buried in a landfill. It can also be recycled.

    If the Great Pacific Garbage Patch had been comprised of oxo-biodegradable plastic, there would be no ‘patch’ to speak of, as the material would have already degraded before it could reach any significant size.

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