Senior Editor
Staff

The Inertia

If you’re up to date on environmental happenings, you’re aware that System 002, Boyan Slat’s ocean cleaning vessel, is currently moving around the Great Pacific Garbage Patch slurping up trash. A staggering amount of trash. Within that staggering amount is a certain piece of fishing equipment that the Ocean Cleanup workers are seeing more than anything else: eel traps.

Eel traps aren’t actually eel traps. Instead, they’re mainly used to catch hagfish, which, despite their appearance, are not eels. They’re not the most attractive fish in the sea — the Smithsonian, in fact, once called them “the slimy sea creature of your nightmares” — but just like everything in nature, they have their place. We use them for their skin and their meat, among other things, and it appears that the people catching them don’t much care for reusing equipment.

The crew aboard the Ocean Cleanup vessel are finding thousands and thousand of these traps, but interestingly, only the top part. In the video above, operations manager Glen Kissack explains how the traps work and why he suspects they’re finding such an incredible amount of them in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch.

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