roject Kaisei expeditions to the North Pacific Subtropical Convergence Zone (the North Pacific Gyre) were filmed by a world class production team. The documentary is currently in its final editing phase. The goal is to generate an educational series for international distribution to assist with raising the awareness of the marine debris/ocean trash global ocean problem. The footage will highlight the following:
- The volume and variety of the trash in the North Pacific Gyre
- Identification of the marine debris layers
- The daunting task of collecting samples for research and data gathering
- Identify techniques for catching and retrieving marine debris
The documentary is supported by several award-winning writers, as well as personalities who can use their networks and audiences to further increase awareness about this pollution problem and commitment to the efforts of Project Kaisei.
Scientific Testing During the Mission
Project Kaisei works with some of the leading scientists and technologies in ocean research. Teams of scientists and researchers participating in the expedition are supported by several research institutions and agencies, including the Scripps Institution of Oceanography. We look at issues including the effects on marine life, microorganisms, new satellite imagery studies and also marine mammal research with low frequency sound detection devices. Many of these are world-first studies with regards to marine debris in this area of ocean.
Study on Toxins and the Food Chain
It has been estimated that the composition of marine litter globally now consists of 60-80% plastic polymers and in some areas it elevates to numbers as high as 90 – 95% (1, 2). Marine biologists, ocean lovers, and water sports enthusiasts Andrea Neal, Ph.D. (Ocean Futures Society) and Joel Paschal (Sea of Change and Algalita), have joined Project Kaisei to help further our understanding of the scope and impact that plastic marine pollution has on our oceanic environments. With the amount of plastic pollution in our environment continuing to increase, we are not only concerned about the quantity of this prevalent pollutant but the biological impacts that these synthetic organic polymers may have on aquatic species as well as ourselves. We know that Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) like PCB’s (polychlorinated biphenyl’s), PAH’s (polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons) and DDT (dichloro-diphenyl-trichloroethane) are attracted to synthetic polymers which make up the plastic debris at sea, and create a sink for these harmful toxins in aquatic environments.
Project Kaisei expeditions accomplishments are targeted to these three areas of concern:
- Bringing attention and understanding to the general public of this emerging environmental and health impact issue of plastic pollution and their associated sinks for harmful toxins in oceanic environments, and how this may be entering our food chain.
- Developing creative solutions for wise use and re-use of our natural resources.
- Encouraging a full range of waste management strategies including the proper handling of plastic wastes through recycling, reduction in the production and consumption of plastic products, and the reuse of products to reduce all wastes.
Programme 1 – Mission Impossible
We will follow the first leg of a journey to the North Pacific Gyre and will be introduced to and get to know the team of scientists, explorers, conservationists and filmmakers. We get to know the fantastic vessel the Kaisei – Japanese for ‘Ocean Planet’ – a 151-ft brigantine, packed to the gunnels with equipment. From experimental devices to the latest in underwater filming, we will learn exactly what the crew is hoping to achieve and why it is so important that they succeed.
From the ocean giants, such as whales, dolphins and sharks, to the tiny fish that shelter under the floating flotsam and even the plankton that drifts with the currents – all sea life is under threat from the pollution of the ocean.
The crew will analyze this problem face-on and begin their work. We’ll follow their triumphs and challenges as they begin to test the different devices designed to capture the debris collected during the expedition.
Programme 2 – Removing the Debris
Once the first mission has been completed and some innovative solutions are identified, Project Kaisei will plan to secure more data and research plus testing of innovative collection equipment devices for major ocean clean-up.
Many fishermen have lost their jobs as relentless, high-tech fishing methods have depleted fish stocks leaving little hope of survival. We meet the men whose boats have been decommissioned as the pressure to produce more and more fish each day has been too great. Now these fishermen have the chance to give something back to the ocean and we watch their boats being transformed into specialized plastic-consuming machines to collect the waste and turn it in to fuel. If successful, the vessels will be fueled entirely by the waste they collect and they will become part of a team undertaking the biggest clean up Earth has ever witnessed.