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Watch: Swimming from Hawaii to San Francisco to clean up the ocean

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By Joseph Macey
Watch: Swimming from Hawaii to San Francisco to clean up the ocean
Copyright  Josh Munoz

Ben Lecomte is making a 300 nautical mile journey from Hawaii to San Francisco via the Great Pacific Garbage Patch to better understand how plastic is affecting our oceans.

He has just reached the 200-mile mark, and the team have estimated they have picked up 17,000 pieces of microplastic.

Sarah-Jeanne Royer, Marine Biologist, at the University of California is working with Ben and using the data collected to help future research.

Sarah-Jeanne Royer told Euronews that Lecomte is "in the North Pacific Garbage Patch, which has a high concentration of microplastics which can be found at the surface of the vortex.

"The team is currently sampling microplastics for us using a piece of equipment that will scoop the surface of the ocean, they will also collect micro-fibres, a water sample that will contain synthetic fibres to find out what the concentration is in the open ocean."

Millions of tonnes

According to The Ocean Clean Up, The Garbage Patch covers an estimated surface area of 1.6 million square kilometres, it is thought that 1.15 to 2.41 million tonnes of plastic are entering the ocean each year from rivers.

Last year Ben attempted to cross the pacific. He completed 1,500 nautical miles before he was forced to abandon the attempt.

Sarah Royer added: "We don’t have all the data yet, so it is hard to analyse, but what I heard from the crew is that they have found a tremendous amount of microplastics every day.

"In a collection of about 30 minutes in the water, they will get about three to six thousand pieces of micro-plastic which is very high.

"One very easy fix for the consumers is the need to stop using single used plastics, such as a water bottle can be easily exchanged for reusable items, we can try to find better alternatives than plastic and better materials for the sake of the ocean."

The clean up is due to finish on August 31st.

Journalist • Joseph Macey

Video editor • Joseph Macey