The Project Kaisei expedition to the Plastic Vortex will be filmed by a world class production team who will produce a documentary series designed for international distribution. The documentary will aim to show the various impacts that marine debris have on our oceans and the marine life that lives there. The footage will also show the challenges the expedition faces, the daunting task of eventual debris clean-up, and the options available for providing real solutions to this global problem. The production will show if some techniques for catching and retrieving marine debris are feasible at sea, and how new options or variations can aid in this operation.
The documentary will be distributed internationally for maximum exposure. The intention is to make a series that can also be used as an educational tool and distributed to schools and universities. The expedition 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 will be working with some of the leading scientists and technologies in ocean research. The team of scientists and researchers participating in the expedition are supported by several research institutions and agencies, including the Scripps Institution of Oceanography. We will be looking 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.
In this expedition we want to accomplish three things;
- Bring 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.
- Develop creative solutions for wise use and re-use of our natural resources.
- Encourage 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 Plastic Vortex and will be introduced to and get to know the team of scientists, explorers, conservationists and filmmakers. We get to know their 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.
By the end of the film they must achieve this first goal.
Programme 2 – Removing the Debris
Once the first mission has been completed, and some solutions have hopefully been shown to exist, Project Kaisei will plan for a clean-up mission 12-18 months later. When she sets sail for the second time, the Kaisei will be joined by a fleet of other vessels that would carry out the heavy operational work in order to capture some of the plastic debris.
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 fuelled entirely by the waste they collect and they will become part of a team undertaking the biggest clean up Earth has ever witnessed.