An instrument is developed in the fight against plastic pollution in the Galapagos

First modification: 04/28/2021 – 18:02

A volunteer holds a plastic bottle collected on Isabela Island of the Galapagos archipelago, in the Pacific Ocean, 1000 km off the coast of Ecuador, on February 17, 2019 Rodrigo BUENDIA AFP / Archives

Paris (AFP)

A group of scientists developed an instrument equipped with artificial intelligence to predict where and when plastic waste floating in the ocean will reach the Galapagos Islands, an ecosystem unique in the world that is currently threatened.

Every year, more than eight tons of plastic waste are collected on the beaches of this archipelago in the Pacific Ocean, located about 1,000 km off the coast of Ecuador, said Stephanie Ypma, a researcher at the University of Utrecht (Netherlands).

Driven by currents, waste from the mainland and from the huge international fishing fleets end up on the beaches of these islands classified as a World Heritage site by UNESCO.

This contamination represents a “great threat to wildlife”, since the plastic microparticles often end up in the stomachs of animals, said the scientist during the meeting of the European Union of Geosciences that was held virtually this week.

And surely “there is much more than eight tons of waste,” since only 1% of the coastline is cleaned due to lack of financial resources, she added.

For this reason, the Utrecht Institute for Oceanographic and Atmospheric Research developed a digital instrument to “optimize” this cleaning.

Promoted by the Galapagos Conservation Trust, a UK-based wildlife safeguarding body, the invention was developed to determine where waste will go.

It is a simulation instrument that integrates multiple parameters, from oceanic flows to the composition of plastic particles, and has floating sensors equipped with GPS, which allow measuring the movement of water towards land.

The compiled data will be combined with artificial intelligence simulations to provide a reliable forecast. The first observation is scheduled during the boreal summer.

“Our first results are promising,” said Ypma, who is confident that this model will also serve to fight pollution in other Pacific islands.

Read the original coverage from France24 here:

Informing and sharing news on marine life, flora, fauna and conservation in the Galápagos Islands since 2017
© SOS Galápagos, 2021


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