In my hometown of Montauk New York, a huge fishing community relies on bountiful fish to maintain their livelihoods. However, global warming and increased ocean pollution have rapidly changed fishing practices that have been here for centuries and pose a threat to many people in my community. According to National Geographic, there are 5.25 trillion pieces of trash in the water as of 2015, and this number will only grow if people don’t act to preserve our oceans.
With my CSGC grant, I have been building a device that sucks in trash from the ocean, which I like to call an Aqua Cleaner. I basically attached a water pump to the bottom of a bucket and used plexiglass to create a smaller opening within the bucket and serve as a protective barrier for the pump. On top of the plexiglass and around the rim of the bucket is a net where the trash falls into. Additionally, out the side of the bucket is a hole and tube where the circulating water goes out. I tied the device onto a boat to move up and down with the tides, and it sits right below the surface.
I will have to continue troubleshooting some flaws with the design because the flow is not as strong as it can be so not as much trash is winding up being collected. Additionally, when a strong wave comes in, the device can wind up sideways and spill back out of the trash. I also am considering adding a reverse osmosis filter to the design so it can filter out microplastics. However, if the device works, I will consider expanding and installing the Aqua Cleaner in other marinas.