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  #1  
Old 02-14-2009
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i need a boat!

Dear Mr./Mrs,
I am looking for a boat and a captain who wants to sail to the North Pacific Gyre to look for the plastic garbage patch. I want to fish out as much plastic as possible and after returning I want to melt it into a giant plastic coral reef. Do you think there is someone within your company that would be interested in doing so or knows someone that would? I will take care of all the expenses.
Iím in LA untill the 23rd of February.
Hope to hear from you soon,

Sincerely,

Maarten Vanden Eynde
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Old 02-14-2009
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It wouldn't be a "coral" reef. It would be a "plastic replica" of a coral reef.

My suggestion would be to haul a barge behind you with a processing unit on it - that way you don't have to come all the back to make the reef. Pick the garbage out, process it, sink the reef, do it all over again.

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Old 02-14-2009
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What's wrong with land based plastic? There seems to be plenty if that around and it's got to be cheaper.
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Old 02-15-2009
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Last time I sailed in the Pacific we spent 48 days offshore and covered 7500 nm and we saw ONE plastic bottle the entire time.

Good luck, Don Quixote!
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Old 02-16-2009
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Your thread got me thinking, and doing some research on the gyre, and it's accumulation of (mostly) plastic trash.
I think it's a great idea to go and get some of the trash, especially if you want to publicize the environmental impact.
However if you want to go out there and process the stuff in place, there are some big decisions to make.
Unfortunately, despite the amazing resource that the internet is, there is very little in the way of information on the density and make-up of the mass of flotsam.
This makes designing a harvesting mechanism for the mass rather difficult to conceptualize.

From what I have gathered in a morning's web surfing, the plastic in question is mostly ground up bits bobbing just below the surface. The flashier bits are attractive to some seabirds and small fish, and wind up in their stomachs. the big stuff is few and farther between and floats better, apparently. (Please, anyone that has a better understanding of th makeup of this stuff, enlighten me, and set this thread straight)
That it is not a big thick mass on the surface makes it harder to collect, and makes any harvesting mechanism invasive to the local marine wildlife.

A cool idea though. I envisioned a combine-type mechanism on a large barge with a massive solar array atop it to power the machine. some sort of propulsion would be required. It could melt and blend the plastics, as it would be impractical to have it sorted out by types in such a ridiculously remote location. It could be designed to continuously extrude plastic cylinders or injection mold large stackable large blocks, or even molded into building blocks for a modular floating island that could be put together at sea.
potentially it could be mostly unmanned, and steer itself to the richest of resources.
It would need to be a robust design, considering the long-term need for such a harvesting mechanism. It would need to be incredibly seaworthy, all but hurricane proof, easily maintained, and mostly self-contained.
As far as making a reef out of the plastic, it's possible, if you can get it to sink.
I'd rather it didn't stay water-borne, as it seems to act like a toxin-sponge. Better to return it to land where it could be re-used, or find a deep dark hole in the ocean to drop it where it can't hurt anything or anyone-- No sense turning a danger to birds and fish into a danger to shipping.

Who wants to underwrite a pilot project to harvest the gyre?
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Old 02-16-2009
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it's almost akin to spice mining on a remote planet
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Old 02-16-2009
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The gyre isn't all bad either. Large numbers of smaller sea creatures have taken up residence, creating a nursery for numerous types of organisms, and a hunting ground for others!
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Old 02-16-2009
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I don't profess to be an expert on marine biology or even marine ANYTHING, but I distinctly remember reading somewhere this morning that plastic granules outnumber plankton 6 to 1 in the plastic soup.

If it is providing a habitat for wildlife, it's not a safe one for them or for us, because the wildlife is ingesting the ground up plastic, and the toxins that it has attracted and concentrated. Then all of a sudden it's in the food chain-the food chain that WE are at the end of. I don't mean to be a gloomy gus, but it seems like we've shot ourselves in the foot with this one.
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Old 02-16-2009
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OK I'll bite. didn't say it was good, just not all bad, per National Geo special I watched last week on the guy who has been studing it for the last ten years. And the Sargasso to plankton is greater than 6 to 1. But to say it again plastic in OCEAN=BAD---Don't do it!
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