Placeholder Image

Subtitles section Play video

  • In June of 2018, long-distance swimmer Ben Lecomte attempted to become the first human

  • EVER to swim across the Pacific Ocean. The record-setting fifty-five hundred mile trans-Pacific

  • crossing not only pushed Lecomte to his very limits. It also forced the crew onboard the

  • support boat Seeker to battle the elements. And overcome one challenge. Ben, there's a

  • shark. Just right there. [email protected]#$ me. After another. I want the motion to just stop. After anotherWe

  • lost the ability to start the generator. We can run our engine, but I don't know how

  • long it's going to last.

  • It's a piece of duct tape on -- a bigger problem. Although a devastating break finally

  • forced Ben and his team to end their attempted crossing, thousands of miles short of their

  • final destination. The Swim has raised awareness for the  plastic pollution problem in our

  • oceansThe expedition also resulted in the collection of invaluable scientific data that

  • could help find a solutionThe opportunity swim gave us, at least for the scientific

  • community, was fantastic. We never had the opportunity to sample at such a high resolution.

  • It has never been done to collect data from one end of the ocean to the otherBen was

  • swimming relatively at a slow pace. I mean, very fast compared to mine. But in terms of

  • quality of data. It means that we had samples collected very close to each other. Dr. Sarah-Jeanne

  • Royer is a researcher who has been studying ocean ecology for more than a decadeMy

  • general research is all about plastic pollution and plastic in the environmentThis, of

  • course, is a relatively new field of studyPlastic wasn't mass produced and widely consumed

  • until the 1950s. But today, we find plastic everywhereAnd I mean EVERYWHEREEven

  • turning up in places we really don't want it toWe find an incredible high amount

  • of plastic discarded into the environment and the ocean on an everyday basis. In 2010,

  • about 8 million metric tons of plastic got discarded in the oceanIt's equivalent to

  • one garbage truck of plastic waste that gets discarded every minute in the ocean. Lecomte

  • and his crew encountered an astounding amount of plastic waste. Every five minutes, finding

  • a piece of plastic debrisThis isn't surprising, since one important planned stop on The Swim

  • was the infamous Great Pacific Garbage Patch which -- it turns out -- has a more scientifically

  • accurate nameThe Great Pacific Garbage Patch is actually the North Pacific Garbage

  • Patch. These are the same one, but I tend to use the geographical location of the patch.

  • It's just to make sure that we know geographically where it is located, rather than just using

  • a term that is maybe less scientific. But the confusion about the Garbage Patch involves

  • more than just its nameIt's not a patch or a solid island per se. It's more like a

  • soup, and the soup may -- become more concentrated in plastic, may -- become greater and or smaller.

  • It's always in movement. I mean, there are several measurements and estimate of how much

  • the North Pacific Garbage Patch contains plastic. It changes and it varies. But the more measurements

  • we have, the better we can have an estimate of how much plastic is out there. The ocean

  • is in peril right now. And if we don't do something that is going to reverse that in

  • the next few years, then it's going to be much more difficultIncredibly, we don't

  • even know the answer to the very basic question -- exactly how much plastic is in our watersWe

  • have very little numbers about how much plastic is floating in the ocean. A study from four

  • years ago -- estimated that we only know about 1% of the fate of the plastic discarded in

  • the environment. There's 99% of this plastic that is currently missingThat's right,

  • some experts estimate that we have only accounted for as little as ONE PERCENT of the plastic

  • in our oceans! So the opportunity to work with Ben Lecomte to establish scientific protocols 

  • for The Swim was something Dr. Royer simply couldn't pass up. I was like, "Oh, this

  • is wonderful. We can do visual survey and look at the plastic with binoculars." We

  • can also collect with the Manta Trawl and we can make microfiber measurements with sea

  • water. This just one sample from many, many, many that we will take on this trip. We were

  • so happy with all these sampes. And these are very precious for us. The crew also attached

  • GPS buoys to debris to help track their movementAll this science--while simultaneously supporting

  • the long-distance swimmer during his grueling trans-Pacific swimJust keep swimming. Just

  • keep swimming. He's gonna keep going until his body breaks, the boat breaks, or the weather

  • stops himIt has taken countless hours to sort through all the micro-plastic samples

  • collected in the deployment of more than 40 Manta Trawls during The SwimFor one Manta

  • Trawl, which is one sample, you might have, like, up to 3,000 pieces of plastic. First

  • you need to count them. Then you need to measure them to see how big they are and to do the

  • size fractionation. Then we are looking at the color. And then we have also an index

  • that tells us more about the degradation level and also the biomass. So how much biology

  • is growing on these pieces. This painstaking work -- combined with the visual surveys and

  • GPS tracking -- allow researchers like Dr. Royer to work towards better understanding

  • our plastic pollution problemThe science behind The Swim has also led to a sobering

  • realization about how big the problem actually isKey points here is that all of the samples

  • that were collected had plastic. And the one that had the highest amount were higher than

  • 3,000 pieces of polymers we did in one towHaving seen these polymers every single day, and

  • in average every six minutes during their cruises, shows the extent of the problemAnd

  • it's SINGLE-USE PLASTICS that's proving to be a BIG problem. They are cheap plastic.

  • They are made to not last too long. This is dangerous and toxic for the environment, because

  • it's a weak polymer, it fragments quickly. And then, it becomes smaller and smaller with

  • size, it leaks all of these additives. And then, it becomes very available to more organisms

  • in the food web. The single-use plastic, they are really bad for the environmentAs disheartening

  • as this all may seem, the good news is that all the high-resolution data gathered during

  • Lecomte's one-hundred-sixty-five day swim are helping scientists work toward a solutionWe

  • are still working with the samples that were collected during the swimThere are thousands

  • and thousands and thousands of pieces. And we are trying to understand better the polymer

  • types, the chemical signature, how degraded they are. We are working with instruments

  • and different types of techniques to get a better understanding. And I hope then soon

  • we'll have a publication out and be able to share with the scientific community. Some

  • data from The Swim has already been put to good use. There's one of the publications

  • that was actually conducted by Matthias Egger at The Ocean Cleanup, where he looked at the

  • different size fractionation of different types of marine debris in the North Pacific

  • Garbage Patch. But answering the fundamental questionslike how the Great Pacific Garbage

  • Patch influences the movement of plastic waste throughout the world ocean. Or exactly how

  • much plastic is in our waters. At this moment, in 2021, we have a lot more research that

  • is trying to answer the question, where is the missing plasticFortunately, there's

  • still a lot of promising work to come out of this expeditionwhich was a huge success.

  • At least on the science side of things. I felt really sorry for Ben that he could not

  • finish the swim. But I found that Ben said, "Okay, I'm going to make something out of

  • this." And he continued then from Hawaii to San Francisco, and he decided to really dig

  • into the issue of plastic pollution and to continue measuring plastic and to bring more

  • awareness. Which only means more future collaborations between the swimmer and the scientistSo

  • Ben did call me a couple of weeks ago and he's like, "Sarah, do you want to come with

  • us to Cocos Island, close to Costa Rica so we could put together a scientific protocol,

  • and look at the concentrations of plastic." And this is so exciting. I could not say no to

  • himFor more on Ben Lecomte's trans-Pacific swim, check out the full-length documentary

  • -- The Swim -- now streaming on Discovery-plusAnd while you get set to consume all that great

  • content, we strongly urge you to stop consuming single use plastics

In June of 2018, long-distance swimmer Ben Lecomte attempted to become the first human

Subtitles and vocabulary

Operation of videos Adjust the video here to display the subtitles

B1 swim pacific patch ocean garbage discarded

How Swimming Across The Pacific Resulted in High Resolution Data on Ocean Plastic | The Swim

  • 0 0
    Summer posted on 2021/04/15
Video vocabulary