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5.25 trillion pieces of plastic are floating in the ocean, so it’s no wonder why some people have started to lose faith in seeing clean water again. But many are working hard to reverse the damage humans have done to the seas and to marine animals. Bright inventors have developed machines, techniques, and technologies that are sure to give back hope to the most hopeless and we want to share this good news.
Bright Side will show you how change is real and how with research and effort we can reclaim our oceans.
1. ECOncrete that has repopulated coral reefs
Concrete is the second most consumed product, after water, but it’s not exactly good for the environment. Concrete that is continuously in contact with marine life tends to harm it because of its chemical components. But the company ECOncrete offers a good solution to the problem. They’ve created some products that are manufactured only partially with concrete that have a different and eco-friendly composition and design. When placed inside oceans, these concrete blocks allow small fish and coral to live inside their small holes, helping to repopulate the ecosystem.
2. Edible 6-pack rings for marine mammals
Saltwater Brewery is a company from Florida owned by ocean lovers who don’t want any of their products to end up contaminating the sea or harming marine animals. They were well aware that many marine species confuse plastic 6-pack rings with food and that they usually end up hurting them. That’s why they came up with packaging that’s safe for marine animals to eat. This way they work together with their consumers to reduce plastic waste and feed animals, instead of harming them.
3. A robot that can identify and capture microplastics in the ocean
This invention was designed by Anna Du, a 6th grader that became a finalist in the Discovery Education 3M Young Scientist Challenge. Her robot is a remotely operated vehicle (RAV) that employs infrared light to detect and hunt microplastics. It’s composed of 2 different systems, a navigation system that guides it through water, and a detection system that uses a high-resolution infrared camera to find the plastic.
The Seabin Project looks almost like a regular trash can and does exactly what a regular trash can does, it collects garbage. However, it does it in the ocean. Designers created it to absorb the pollution left around docks, ports, and marinas. The Seabin sucks in water and, in an inside bag, it catches debris, oil, plastic, fuels, and detergents, releasing clean water afterward. The bins capture almost 2 tons of garbage per day.
The SeaVax is a robotic boat that is able to absorb plastic waste from the water. It’s still a prototype, but the future system will be capable of holding up to 150 tons of plastic rubbish. It will run on solar energy and wind turbines, making it an even more perfect environmentally-friendly solution.
The Great Pacific Garbage Patch that lays between Hawaii and California is so huge, some call it a garbage continent. However, its days are numbered. Boyan Slat, a young Dutch scientist, spent 5 years creating The Ocean Cleanup, a massive system that will clean the oceans. The system, which is called Wilson, consists of screens that are attached to polyethylene pipes that float while capturing every piece of plastic under the water’s surface. This giant pipe has already started working on the Great Pacific Garbage Patch and it projects that it will be able to reduce it by 50% in 5 years. Read another Bright Side article about it here.
4. A bin that collects garbage wherever you place it on water
5. A robotic boat that can vacuum up to 150 tons of plastic from the ocean
6. A machine that is cleaning up the colossal amount of plastic waste in the ocean
7. An ultra-thin sun shield that protects coral reefs from intense sun rays
The Great Barrier Reef, yes, Nemo’s home, is threatened by sun rays that elevate the water temperature. Warmer water increases the ocean’s acidity, which in turn bleaches the corals. But now, scientists from the University of Melbourne and the Australian Institute of Marine Science have developed a biodegradable formula to fight this. The solution is made from calcium and can be sprayed onto the water creating a film that keeps water cool and minimizes sunlight exposure.
These cubes are artificial, eco-engineered marine habitats created by a company called ARC Marine. The cubes are made of environmentally friendly materials that mimic the features of a coral reef and provide multiple species of marine animals with food, shelter, better water quality, and more. They’re introduced inside the ocean and placed in areas where reefs have been damaged, to reconstruct the natural ecosystem.
Australian scientists are reseeding damaged coral reefs that are located in Philippine waters and on the Great Barrier Reef by using new in vitro fertilization (IVF) methods for corals. Samples of coral larvae are taken from the ocean and reproduced by the millions in laboratories. They are later placed on damaged reefs and secured by nets to prevent the current from taking them away. This is an innovative way to repopulate the marine area that has been affected by climate change and the El Niño phenomenon, both of which elevate water temperatures.
8. Reef cubes that are reconstructing marine habitats for animals
9. The use of in vitro fertilization to repopulate coral reefs
Bonus: Zero plastic packaging
Skipping Rocks Lab is a sustainable packaging company that has created Hoola, a packaging product that’s meant to disappear. The packages are made from Notpla, an innovative material created using seaweed and other plants that degrade in water naturally. It can even hold liquids.
For those who feel hopeless about our ocean’s pollution, these inventions can make their day. Many see real change down the road. Tell us, do you see it too? Do you think these solutions are going to be able to solve the problem? What other inventions have you heard about that deserve to be on this list? Share in the comment section!
Preview photo credit Missouri Dept. of Conservation / Facebook, saltwatbrewery / Instagram