Kwai, the 140-foot sailing vessel, sailed from the Hawaiian port of Hilo heading towards the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, where its crew will collect more than 100 tons of plastic garbage and ghost nets.
Specifically, the project is led by California-based not-for-profit Ocean Voyages Institute. In less than four days into their journey, the crew managed to remove a variety of plastic debris along with several nets. During the 45-day voyage, the crew will collect garbage with the help of satellite beacons that have been placed on nets by crowd-sourced volunteer yachts and commercial vessels.
Drones onboard the Kwai assist the vessel to collect the debris and store it in the ship’s cargo hold for recycling and re-purposing at the end of the voyage.
The Institute joined forces with a multi-disciplinary group of NASA funded researchers (FloatEco) led by Dr. Nikolai Maximenko. The research data gathered by the vessel will contribute to understanding the dynamics of floating plastic and its interaction with open ocean marine ecosystems.
In the meantime, in collaboration with Dr. Luca Centurioni, Director of the Lagrangian Drifter Lab at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, Ocean Voyages Institute is also deploying devices which will provide oceanographic and meteorological data used in weather forecasting, calibration of satellites and scientific research.
Overall, Kwai normally sails transferring cargo and trade under sail on routes between Hawaii, the Line Islands of Kiribati and the Northern Cook Islands.