A little more than six months after he first entered the water in Japan, the frenchman Benoît “Ben” Lecomte stepped onto a beach on Oahu, Hawaii (bad weather forced Lecomte and his support boat the Discoverer to make the stop). Although his attempt to swim across the Pacific Ocean is over for now, “his campaign to warn the world about the dangers of plastic pollution in the ocean continues.”1
According to Lecomte, there were times during his swim that he saw one piece of plastic about every three minutes. And his support crew collected about 100 pieces of plastic- in thirty minutes– each time they threw a net into the water.
Lecomte, 51, and his support crew reported that during their six months on the Pacific, they encountered a lot of plastic.
He told a CNN affiliate KHON:
“Sometimes we’re swimming with whales around and then boom, 10 minutes later, a big floating plastic, a blob. A lot of it is something that we all use at home. To see that with sea life, that was very disturbing.”2
Researchers from 12 scientific institutions, including NASA and the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, conducted studies and gathered samples during his journey, focusing on eight areas of interest, some of which included, plastic pollution, radiation from the Fukushima disaster and the swim’s effects on Lecomte’s heart and psychological state.
Despite the setback with the weather, Lecomte said he still hopes to eventually finish his swim to San Francisco and continue to sound the alarm about plastic pollution, “The mission doesn’t ever stop. It will carry on with the same ideas, bringing as much awareness on ocean pollution, on plastic, to try to inspire people to change their habit. It’s the way we live on land, the way we don’t recycle, the way that we use single-use plastic also contributes a lot, so we have to change that.”3