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Project Kaisei

Project Kaisei logo
Formation 19 March 2009
Type NGO
Purpose/focus Environmental
Leader Doug Woodring
Parent organization Ocean Voyages Institute
Website http://www.projectkaisei.org/

Project Kaisei ("ocean planet" in Japanese[1]) is a scientific and commercial mission to study and cleanup the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, a large body of floating debris trapped in the Pacific Ocean by the currents of the North Pacific Gyre.[2] First discovered by Charles J. Moore in 1997, the patch is estimated to contain 20 times the density of floating debris compared to the global average.[2] The project aims to study the extent and nature of the debris with a view to capturing, detoxifying, and recycling the material, and is organised by the Ocean Voyages Institute, a California-based 501c3 non-profit organisation dealing with marine preservation.[3][4 ][5]

Contents

Project launch

The project was launched on 19 March 2009, with plans for an initial phase of scientific study of the debris and feasibility study of the recovery and recycling technologies, with the eventual aim of beginning a commercial cleanup operation in the future if the initial phase proved this to be viable.[6 ] The project was to be filmed and broadcast as a two part documentary, the first part covering the initial feasibility study, the second the commercial removal.[7]

Initial voyage

In August 2009, the initial study and feasibility voyage phase of Project Kaisei began, conducted by two vessels, the 174-foot (53-meter) diesel powered research vessel R/V New Horizon, and the project flagship, the 150-foot (46-meter) tall ship Kaisei.[5][8][9]The New Horizon, owned by the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, left San Diego on 2 August 2009 on the Scripps Environmental Accumulation of Plastic Expedition (SEAPLEX), set to last until 21 August.[4 ] The SEAPLEX expedition is funded by the University of California, San Diego and Project Kaisei.[10] Two days later the Kaisei, owned by the Ocean Voyages Institute, departed San Francisco on 4 August, and was expected to undertake a 30 day voyage.[11] The Kaisei was to investigate the size and concentration of the debris field, and explore retrieval methods, while the New Horizon would join her and study the effect of the debris field on marine life.[11][12]

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Intensive sampling

On reaching the patch, 1,000 miles from the Californian coast, New Horizon began intensive sampling on 9 August.[13] The crew took samples every few hours around the clock, using nets of various sizes and collecting samples at various depths.[14] New Horizon returned on Friday 21 August 2009.[13][15] SEAPLEX reported their initial findings on Thursday 27 August 2009, declaring that the patch stretched at least 1,700 miles across, and that from 100 consecutive surface samples taken along that 1,700 path track taken through the patch, plastic was found in every one.[15] Miriam Goldstein, chief scientist of the SEAPLEX expedition described the findings as "shocking".[16] Speaking about the patch, Goldstein added, "There’s no island, there’s no eighth continent, it doesn’t look like a garbage dump. It looks like beautiful ocean. But then when you put the nets in the water, you see all the little pieces.”[14]

Return

Kaisei returned to San Francisco on the morning of Monday 31 August.[17] OVI founder and Project Kaisei co-founder Mary Crowley stated immediately following the Kaisei expeditions that the pollution was "what we expected to see, or a little worse."[18] Andrea Neal, principal investigator on the Kaisei speaking on Tuesday 1 September stated that "Marine debris is the new man-made epidemic. It's that serious".[1] Kaisei and New Horizon together had conducted tests along over 3,500 miles of the ocean.[18]

Initial findings from the voyages concluded that the vast majority of the debris is small.[14] The tiny portions of the debris field was said to be pervasive, and was found both at the surface and at deeper areas.[16] It was also described as a "nearly inconceivable amount of tiny, confettilike pieces of broken plastic", increasing in density the further they sampled into the patch.[1] Findings suggested that the presence of small debris, of a similar size to the existent marine life, could prove an obstacle to cleanup efforts.[15]

Larger debris found consisted of mainly plastic bottles, but also included shoe soles, plastic buckets, patio chairs, Styrofoam pieces, old toys and fishing vessel buoys, and a large collection of floating debris entangled in fishing net.[13][1] Various types of marine life were found on, around and within the larger types of debris.[13] Some of the garbage collected was put on display at the Bay Model Visitor Center in Sausalito, California.[18]

Goal

The initial feasibility mission aimed to collect 40 tonnes of debris, using special nets designed not to catch fish, in two passes through the field.[2][6 ] The project would later test methods of recycling the collected garbage into new plastic, or commercial products such as diesel fuel or clothing.[8][11] If the initial mission proved the collection and processing technologies to be viable, it was expected that the Kaisei would lead a full scale commercial cleanup voyage with other vessels, becoming operational within 18 months.[6 ]

Fundraising

Ocean Voyages Institute raised $500,000 for the Project Kaisei initial voyages.[1] The SEAPLEX expedition cost $387,000, funded with $190,000 from UC Ship Funds, $140,000 from Project Kaisei and $57,000 from the National Science Foundation.[16] Project Kaisei is also partnered with the California Department of Toxic Substances Control.[18]

See also

References

  1. ^ a b c d e "'Pacific Garbage Patch' expedition finds plastic, plastic everywhere". Silicon Valley Mercury News. 2009-09-01. Archived from the original on 2009-09-30. http://www.webcitation.org/5kB6VsX7f. Retrieved 2009-09-30.  
  2. ^ a b c "Pacific Bin". The Times. 2009-05-02. http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/comment/leading_article/article6207231.ece. Retrieved 2009-08-05.  
  3. ^ "Who is behind Project Kaisei?". project website. Project Kaisei. undated. http://www.projectkaisei.org/background.html. Retrieved 2009-08-05.  
  4. ^ a b "The Mission". project website. Project Kaisei. undated. http://www.projectkaisei.org/index.html. Retrieved 2009-08-05.  
  5. ^ a b "Voyage to study plastic 'island'". BBC News. 2009-08-04. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/8184397.stm. Retrieved 2009-08-05.  
  6. ^ a b c Project Kaisei (2009-03-19). "Project Kaisei Launches Mission to the Plastic Vortex" (pdf). Press release. http://www.projectkaisei.org/press/031909%20Project%20Kaisei%20Launches%20Mission%20to%20the%20Plastic%20Vortex_FINAL.pdf. Retrieved 2009-08-05.  
  7. ^ "The Documentary". project website. Project Kaisei. undated. http://www.projectkaisei.org/documentary.html. Retrieved 2009-08-05.  
  8. ^ a b "Giant Ocean-Trash Vortex Attracts Explorers". National Geographic. 2009-07-31. http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2009/07/090731-ocean-trash-pacific.html. Retrieved 2009-08-05.  
  9. ^ McFeely, Megan, "Earath's Eighth Continent," common groundJuly/August,2009, pp. 16-17.
  10. ^ "SEAPLEX The Mission". Scripps Institution of Oceanography. undated. http://sio.ucsd.edu/Expeditions/Seaplex/. Retrieved 2009-08-05.  
  11. ^ a b c "Tall Ship Sets Sail for ‘Great Pacific Garbage Patch’ (Update1)". Bloomberg L.P.. 2009-08-04. http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601130&sid=a5yzD_9Ce4EM. Retrieved 2009-08-05.  
  12. ^ "Expedition Sets Sail to the Great Plastic Vortex". Time.com. 2009-08-01. http://www.time.com/time/health/article/0,8599,1914145,00.html. Retrieved 2009-08-05.  
  13. ^ a b c d National Science Foundation (2009-08-27). "Scientists Find "Great Pacific Ocean Garbage Patch"". Press release. Archived from the original on 2009-09-30. http://www.webcitation.org/5kAyP3jps. Retrieved 2009-09-30.  
  14. ^ a b c "Sailing on the Plastic Seas". This Week @UCSD Top Stories. University of California, San Diego. 2009-09-28. Archived from the original on 2009-09-30. http://www.webcitation.org/5kAzmoIT7. Retrieved 2009-09-30.  
  15. ^ a b c "Plastics patch found across 1,700 miles of Pacific". Reuters UK. 2009-08-28. Archived from the original on 2009-09-30. http://www.webcitation.org/5kAx7wmnL. Retrieved 2009-09-30.  
  16. ^ a b c "‘Shocking’ amount of plastic pollutes oceans". San Diego News Network. 2009-08-27. http://www.sdnn.com/sandiego/2009-08-27/news/‘shocking’-amount-of-plastic-pollutes-oceans. Retrieved 2009-09-30.  
  17. ^ "Vessel Kaisei Returns From Voyage to Study Plastic Garbage at Sea". Bay City News. 2009-09-01. Archived from the original on 2009-09-30. http://www.webcitation.org/5kB2JgBWH. Retrieved 2009-09-30.  
  18. ^ a b c d "Sausalito Scientists Display Plastic from Sea Garbage Patch". KCBS (AM). 2009-09-23. Archived from the original on 2009-09-30. http://www.webcitation.org/5kB1AapiK. Retrieved 2009-09-30.  

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