WWF and Sky Ocean Rescue have launched an autonomous marine robot in north Devon to help clear Ilfracombe harbour of waste. The WasteShark® will be roaming through distances of up to 5km of water, capturing plastics, microplastics, oils and other pollutants. If used five days a week the WasteShark can collect in excess of 15 tonnes of waste a year, with the plastic recycled to make products.
This is the first time that a WasteShark has been used in the UK, following successful launches in five countries. The WasteShark, which is created by RanMarine Technology, is the world’s first marine robot designed specifically to eat waste and collect data. It is designed to be harmonious with the environment. As it navigates the water the WasteShark emits no carbon, produces no noise or light pollution, and poses no threat to wildlife.
DID YOU KNOW?
Eight million tonnes of plastic are dumped in the oceans each year, with catastrophic consequences for wildlife. 90% of the world’s sea birds have fragments of plastic in their stomachs, while up to 80% of mussels taken from a number of British beaches were found to contain microplastics.
WASTE SHARK IN ACTION
Through our work with Sky Ocean Rescue we are launching the WasteShark, to improve the health of our seas. This includes Marine Protected Areas (MPAs,) which, though designated for their environmental importance, face threats from a number of issues, including plastic pollution.
Ilfracombe Harbour is within a MPA that is home to diverse species, it boasts some of UK’s most incredible and beautiful wildlife - including grey seals and pink sea fan corals. Collecting waste in the harbour prevents it damaging the immediate area and from being taken out to sea by the tide and threatening the important wildlife in surrounding MPAs.
CLEANING UP OUR SEAS
The WasteShark can roam for up to eight hours on one charge. It is programmed with GPS points to ensure that it covers hotspots where waste gathers, and its path can be programmed and monitored remotely. Along with removing waste, the WasteShark can collect important data about the marine environment.