The Ocean Clean Up Crew Unveil The “Interceptor”

Born in July 1994, Boyan Slat is a Dutch entrepreneur and inventor who uses technology to help combat global problems. In February 2013, he founded The Ocean Cleanup at a remarkably young age. The organization has since expanded to a team of around 80 people, of which Boyan is currently the CEO. 

In 2018, Boyan led his team to the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, a massive vortex in the Pacific Ocean utterly loaded with pieces of floating plastic and other garbage. It is, in fact, the largest collection of plastic in all the oceans. 

In their efforts to clear the mess away, The Ocean Cleanup launched its first ever plastic-cleaning device. It was a 2,000-foot U-shaped array known as “System 001,” nicknamed “Wilson.” Unfortunately, Wilson’s sensors and satellite system began to malfunction, and its collected plastic began to leak back into the garbage vortex. Although the device was still successful in clearing out some of the plastic from the vortex, and it thankfully did no environmental damage of its own, ultimately it brought back to port for repairs. 

In summer of 2019, The Ocean Project tried again with a newer and better cleanup device, “System 001/B,” which used an underwater parachute to slow the device’s movement through the water, as well as inflatable bags to speed it up. 

Alas, the new design ran into another problem. It used a cork line to help contain the plastic, in a similar manner to lines that divide the lanes of a swimming pool. As it turned out, the line wasn’t tall enough to prevent plastic from passing over. It will be necessary to improve upon this and make the cork line taller to ensure the device works correctly. 

The Ocean Project still has not given up, and is determined to continue their clean-up efforts at the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. In the meantime, they have focused their efforts on clearing up river pollution. On October 26th, 2019, they unveiled their latest invention, called “The Interceptor.” Having been in development since 2015, it too is built around cleaning up plastic, capable of extracting anywhere from 50,000kg to 100,000kg of trash per day. 

In fact, multiple Interceptors have been built. Two of them are already active in Jakarta (Indonesia) and Klang (Malaysia) respectively. A third Interceptor will be set up in Can Tho in the Mekong Delta (Vietnam) while a fourth will be set up in Santa Domingo (Dominican Republic). There has also been an agreement made to set up another Interceptor near Bangkok, and an in-progress agreement for another one in LA Country (USA). 

While there has been some trial-and-error, everyone at The Ocean Project deserves praise and recognition for their innovative methods and for all the hard work they’ve done to make this planet a brighter, cleaner, and safer place. We all could take some inspiration from them, both in their good cause and in their refusal to let their setbacks stop them. 

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Thailand’s Skies are Raining Seed Bombs

Deforestation is a growing problem across the globe as humans are cutting down trees, and forest fires are occurring at an alarming rate. The earth is unable to sustain itself and produce the regrowth required for a balanced ecosystem. Consequently, additional initiatives are necessary due to the severe loss of the earth’s vegetation.

The nation of Thailand is aiming to fix damages caused by the impact of large industries and land being used for agriculture and livestock. Thailand officials had been reminded of the concept of seed bombing. Seed bombing is a concept that originated from a Japanese farmer.

The ancient practice of “tsuchidango” or “earth dumpling,” now referred to as seed bombing, was discovered in the 20th century. Masanobu Fukuoka, a farmer, also known as an advocate of “Do Nothing Farming,” propagated the idea. The earliest known record of seed bombing goes back to 1930 when planes were used to reforest certain areas in the mountains of Honolulu.

Trees in Phitsanulok, Thailand.

Thailand officials fancied the idea and believed seed bombing was a viable solution. Their answer to deforestation was wrapped in a mixture of earth, clay, and compost, to facilitate germination. The government put together a five-year plan implementing a reforestation pilot project, with the aid of the Thai military.

The first mission was in May of 2019, in the forested region of Phitsanulok, in lower northern Thailand. The government used military transport planes to release a series of “seed bombs.” These seed bombs consisted of pits and germs from native plants being dropped from the sky, like a bomb into degraded forests and vegetation.

The reforestation from the air will be monitored and evaluated by Environmental Specialists, with expectations of positive results. As the missions continue throughout the year of 2019, this new technique expects the seed bombs to aid in the planting of thousands of trees. As a result of using the plane, approximately 950,000 trees can be planted in a day.

Location of Phitsanulok region, in lower northern Thailand.

The Thai people anticipate the recovery of their degraded forests and yearn to re-green their country again. Dropping seed bombs from planes is not the only effective way. Humans can collect seeds and kernels and wrap them up in clay, dirt, and leaves. Once completed, throw it into an area which is lacking trees or green space.

Perhaps one should consider this as a future goal. Go for a walk, play in the dirt, pick up seeds, and throw them around.

Rare Pink Dolphin Gives Birth to Pink Calf

“Pinky” A rare pink dolphin in Louisana.

A rare pink river dolphin named “Pinky” has given birth to an extremely rare pink dolphin calf in Louisiana’s Calcasiey River. The pink river dolphin, also known as The Amazon River dolphin, or boto, is commonly found in freshwater rivers and lakes in the Amazon and South America. Conversely, Pinky has been a resident of the Louisiana River for the past ten years. The locals adore her. The citizens are ecstatic to watch Pinky and her calf swim down the river and hopefully produce a pod, which is a group of dolphins.

A local charter boat captain in Louisiana, Captain Rue said, via The Sun:

“The mammal is entirely pink from tip to tail and has reddish eyes. The skin appears smooth, glossy pink, and without flaws. Surprisingly, it does not appear to be drastically affected by the environment or sunlight as might be expected considering its condition, although it tends to remain below the surface a little more than the others in the pod. I feel very fortunate to have seen this incredible mammal and lucky to be able to work and live in the area where such a fantastic creature frequents. Our guests are always thrilled at the opportunity to spot such a unique mammal, and we look forward to it being around for some time to come.”

Pinky and her young calf

Photographs and videos of this dolphin have been widely circulated due to the rare occurrence of albino dolphins. This River Dolphin is often referred to as a “pink” dolphin because of its pink coloration. In actuality, it is an albino, and albino dolphin calves are typically born dark gray, but slowly turn pink as they age.

Several influences on their final color are their behavior, capillary placement, diet, and exposure to sunlight. When the dolphins get excited, they can flush bright pink, similar to humans blushing. 

Unfortunately, the population of these warm-blooded mammals is on the decline. There are approximately 9,000 pink dolphins left in the world. According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), in its latest Red List published in November 2018, River Dolphins habituating in the Amazon River are endangered. 

They are incredibly vulnerable in certain areas due to dams that fragment and threaten specific populations. Additional threats such as contamination of rivers and lakes are also hazardous to the survival of the boto dolphin. Humans have played a part in the declining population due to sometimes accidentally killing a dolphin when they are fishing in the deep waters. There are a variety of delicate reasons that are leading to the decline of the pink dolphin population.

Humans must work together to save endangered ecosystems such as the Amazon rain-forest and its rivers that run throughout Latin America. There are more species than just the river dolphins, which need saving. These are the critical moments in our time to step up and take action.