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3D rendering of the plastic-eating ship Seekuh
3D rendering of the plastic-eating ship Seekuh

LÜBECK — The scourge of plastic litter in the oceans is measured in billions of floating tons of pollution, estimated to affect some 40% of the world's waterways. But a solution to this massive environmental problem may be coming from a small shipyard in Northern Germany, where an ingeniously designed catamaran is being built to collect litter from the open ocean waters.

German news agency DPA reports reports from the Lübeck Yacht Trave GmbH shipyard where the catamaran Seekuh ("Manatee") has been commissioned by the One Earth One Ocean association, with plans to start collecting drifting plastic litter this summer.

One Earth One Ocean CEO Günther Bonin and engineer Dirk Lindenau designed the movable nets that will be suspended between the Seekuh hulls to collect up to two tons of litter per journey. The catamaran will be powered by solar panels, allowing it to go as fast as two knots. The craft can also be dismantled into eight modules to be transported across the globe.

The prototype costs around 250,000 euros, with Bonin already planning to build more vessels like the Seekuh, if it proves to be successful.

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Building the Seekuh"s hulls in Lübeck — Photo: One Earth One Ocean

Stephan Lutter, Marine Protection expert at the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), says rapid solutions such as the innovative catamaran design are needed, with estimates that up to 10 million tons of new plastic litter end up in the oceans every year. "It's a danger to birds and marine animals as some can get entangled in the plastic or mistake it for with food and swallow it," says Lutter.

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Injecting Feminism Into Science Is A Good Thing — For Science

Feminists have generated a set of tools to make science less biased and more robust. Why don’t more scientists use it?

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This focus on biological sex differences turned out to be woefully inadequate, as a group of Harvard-affiliated researchers pointed out earlier this year. By analyzing more than a year of sex-disaggregated COVID-19 data, they showed that the gender gap was more fully explained by social factors like mask-wearing and distancing behaviors (less common among men) and testing rates (higher among pregnant women and health workers, who were largely female).

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