On August 23rd, the Ocean Cleanup successfully completed the Mega Expedition, marked by the arrival of the first vessels, which included the 171-foot mothership of the fleet in the port of San Francisco.

Via the use of a number of measurement techniques, such as aerial surveys and trawls, the almost 30-vessel fleet sampled the plastic concentration during its Great Pacific Garbage Patch voyage that lasted a month. It served as preparation for the major cleanup procedures regarding the area that are to be initiated in 2020 if all goes accordingly.

The main objective of the Mega Expedition was to accurately pinpoint the amount of plastic floating in the area by conducting the biggest ocean research expedition ever. It also marked the first time that large plastic pieces, like Japanese tsunami debris and ghost nets, were quantified.

“I have studied plastic in all the oceans of the world, but I’ve never seen an area with the amount of pollution I saw at the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. With all of the trawls we completed, thousands of miles away from any land, we discovered large amounts of plastic,” commenter Dr. Julia Reisser, one of the Ocean Cleanup’s Lead Oceanographers.

Ocean Cleanup Begins Preparing For Great Pacific Garbage Patch Cleanup

Image: Ocean Cleanup

Even though that the collected samples are yet to be put under a thorough analysis, preliminary findings make it evident that the volume of floating plastic objects is higher than initially expected.

This further solidifies the importance of the mission of The Ocean Cleanup.

“The major amount of plastic located in the garbage patch is at the moment locked up in big pieces of debris, but UV light is contributing for it to break down into more dangerous microplastics, thus greatly increasing microplastic volumes over the course of the following decades. It is a ticking time bomb that we must defuse before it is too late,” commented Boyan Slat, CEO and founder of the initiative.

“Contributing towards the proper protection of the oceans must be a top priority for all of the citizens of our planet. The Ocean Cleanup has decided to undergo this innovative approach towards preserving one of Earth’s essential resources and is trying to raise people’s attention for this global threatening challenge,” Boyan further added, while explaining that the Mega Expedition was conducted thanks to important and significant financial aids from various entrepreneur-philanthropists, such as Salesforce chairman, CEO and founder Marc Benioff.

Video: IBTimes UK