Mega (Big) Trawler and a Tiny Boat

Ladies and Gentlemen, today’s lesson concerns ocean pollution. A group called Ocean Cleanup headed up by a young Dutch inventor, Boyan Slat, is attempting the first of its kind cleanup of the world’s oceans. Apparently, Mr. Slat presented a Ted talk and outlined his idea for a floating ocean boom that would catch plastic bits as the sea currents passed; the collected plastic would then be taken to recycling plants for reuse. In order to get information about the Pacific gyre garbage patch, Mr. Slat organized the Mega Expedition, a plan consisting of 50 private boats traveling various paths between Hawaii and the mainland each conducting systematic trawls. The information collected wold be used to determine the location of the planned collection booms. A big idea.

Laysan volunteered to be on the expedition and we are the first boat departing Honolulu with the trawling equipment, or the Mega Monster as we like to call it. When we first volunteered for the mission, we each envisioned a small net daintily skating behind the boat collecting bits of plastic. What we were delivered was a 46 pound steel and plastic behemoth measuring 7 feet long and 4 feet tall; nothing dainty about it!

I have never mentioned the Mega before this blog entry because the likelihood of it remaining on the dock at the Ala Wai was about 85%. However, Sarah, our marine scientist, persevered and we made a carpeted hammock for the monster and lashed it down securely to the swim step. The Mega Monster set out to sea.

Yesterday, Friday, we entered the edge of the ocean area of interest to the project. Dutifully we donned life jackets, shoes and gloves to try and wrestle the monster out of its hammock and into the Pacific. We were told that this is a one man or maybe two man operation. The reality is that it is a three woman, one man activity; lifting, wenching, fending off the boat, slowing the boat….Over the course of the afternoon, we managed to complete three hour long trawls. Curiously, while the ocean appears absolutely clear and blue and clean, in each trawl net we collected tiny blue and white plastic bits mixed with miscellaneous encrusted rope and fishing line. The results surprised us all. Assuming the ocean stays relatively calm, we will continue to make daily trawls. Our traverse of the garbage patch area will probably take us 10 days and we will keep you posted as we find interesting bits in the net.

Kathleen

More information on the expedition can be found at http://www.theoceancleanup.co

Mega lived on the swim step and the crew stayed in the cock pit for deployment operations.

Mega lived on the swim step and the crew stayed in the cock pit for deployment operations.

Naomi hoisted the Mega while Sarah and Kathleen worked to get it up and over the back of the swim step.

Naomi hoisted the Mega while Sarah and Kathleen worked to get it up and over the back of the swim step.

With trial and error, we learned Mega didn't right itself if upside down.

With trial and error, we learned Mega didn’t right itself if upside down.

The Mega trawled behind Laysan on a 150' line for an hour a trawl, three times a day.

The Mega trawled behind Laysan on a 150′ line for an hour a trawl, three times a day.

 

 

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8 Responses to Mega (Big) Trawler and a Tiny Boat

  1. Penny Noufer says:

    You’re all adventurers…who are also now making the world a better place. When is your TED talk scheduled for?

  2. william says:

    Maybe you will find Wilson!

  3. Steve says:

    Questions for next post. How are the seas? How is everyone feeling? I know you’ve said that usually you don’t feel on top of the world on these crossings. Seen any other boats/ships/jets? What are you guys doing for food? Enough room in the frig/freezer? Anyway, just curious having never done this kind of trip.

  4. sandie says:

    Interesting. You are good volunteers. I have read about the garbage and yet to see the reality is interesting. Thanks for the post. Love you.

  5. Penny Noufer says:

    It’s the ultimate Does It Float game.

  6. Joe and Sandie says:

    Aloha, nice to hear from you; can you get us seats for the TED talk? Same questions as Steve for me too. I had a client who was own a boat investigating the garbage patch and he was astonished when they found it. Best wishes, Joe and Sandie

  7. Kehau says:

    The Ocean Cleanup Project was featured on NPR this morning. So exciting to know someone who is actually a part of it!

  8. Laura Thielen says:

    Sara is such a good influence. She’s a keeper!

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