Experts are now using robot drones to scour beaches surrounding North America’s Great Lakes in order to clean away microplastics.
The five Great Lakes, which are found on the border between the USA and Canada, and after bigger than some nations, have long since had a problem with microplastic pollution.
One company is taking to be the world’s first coastal waste management range. The Searial Cleaners, want to restore waters and shores for a pristine environment and have set to combat marine pollution on the coastline with disruptive technologies.
Two robot inventions are being used to clean the sand and water. The BeBot crawls along the beaches to filter the sand, while the swimming PixieDrone looks after the water. InvisiBubble is a bubble curtain that purifies water, deflects debris and sediments, quarantines hydrocarbons and preserves the surrounding fauna.
Across the five lakes, there is an estimated 22 million pounds of plastic being added each year, according to the Rochester Institute of Technology. This can have a devastating impact on the 137 species of fish that live within the North American waters, as well as the health of the humans who consume them.
Microplastics, or petroleum plastics, are unhealthy to ingest and can also act as concentrates for a number of other pollutants found within the water.
It is estimated that the Great Lakes have a higher concentration of microplastics than the world’s oceans. These pollutants contain fragments of plastic from objects, microfibers, synthetic fabric, and microbeads.
Mark Fisher, the CEO of Council of the Great Lakes Region, who recently received a $1m investment from Meijer to clean up the microplastic problem, said:
“A lot of people don’t know that there is a plastics challenge or problem in the Great Lakes. And so this is an important tool for raising awareness. But we’re also talking about what actions we can take together to make sure that plastic never becomes waste or litter in the first place.”
The Council of the Great Lakes Region provides a binational, multi-sector forum for exchange and collaboration on the region’s key risks and opportunities.
Canadian Harbour Pollution Finally Improving After 150 Years
Although there is still plenty of work to be done, Canadian harbours are finally showing signs of improvement after a 150-year pollution problem.
Garbage dumping, fuel spills, sewage, industrial waste, stormwater leakage, chemical pollution… despite these problems occurring a long time ago, Canada is still fighting to undo the damage caused.
OceanWise’s Pollution Tracker has revealed that the harbours in Victoria contain some of the most dangerous levels of pollution in the country. OceanWise collect shellfish and sediment from harbours along the coast of British Columbia in order to test for contaminants.
How polluted is our ocean?
A worrying trend is that, between 2018 and 2020, Victoria Harbours ranked at the top for pollution in most of the following categories: mercury, lead, flurans, dioxins, PCBs, detergents, microplastics, pesticides, flame retardants, water repellents, plasticizers, and more.
Over time, these pollutants have settled in the mud and sand on the floor of the harbours, posing a risk to natural wildlife and humans alike.
One of Canada’s most polluted bodies of water around Rock Bay (Rock Bay Marine Provincial Park is an awesome park in Johnstone straight that consists of a headland and 2 bays on either side of Chatham Point.) took $500 million of investment and 40 years to fix. However, similar projects are now underway across Canada, including the Esquimalt Harbour.
So far, 12 sites have seen completed work, with another four set to have their contamination reduced in the next few years. One prime example of improvement is the return of the Olympia Oyster, hinting that the waters around Portage Inlet and Gorge Waterway are returning to healthier levels.