The EarthSky article Great Pacific Garbage Patch now 3 times size of France links both to the newly published article in Scientific Reports Evidence that the Great Pacific Garbage Patch is rapidly accumulating plastic and to the YouTube video of one of the authors Boyan Slat - The New Picture of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch (2018), which discusses both data collection and analysis, and the possibility and scope of potential cleanup efforts of a huge patch of garbage within the North Pacific Subtropical Gyre.

Near the end of the video, after 07:00 is shown a very large structure being welded. It's been humorously named Boomy McBoomFace in reference to the RRS Sir David Attenborough story and the UAV Boaty McBoatface.

Is this boom part of a subsequent garbage collection experiment, or a cleanup prototype, or something else?

Click the screen shots below for full size display:

Boyan Slat Great Pacific Garbage Patch (2018) Boyan Slat Great Pacific Garbage Patch (2018)

Boyan Slat Great Pacific Garbage Patch (2018)


2 Answers 2


The boom* is a cleanup prototype. From the OceanCleanup website:

The Ocean Cleanup deployed a 100 meter-long barrier segment in the North Sea, 23 km off the coast of The Netherlands on the 22nd of June 2016.


To investigate the durability of our design, we deployed a system segment in the North Sea. At this test site, conditions are more severe than those in the Pacific Ocean, due to the North Sea's strong tidal currents, and the test site's short, steep wave patterns.

The objective of the North Sea prototype was twofold;

  • Test the boom design on a small-scale for survivability in extreme conditions
  • Gaining experience as an organization in the ocean deployment of a cleanup array


During an inspection of the North Sea prototype in August, we noticed the two outermost air chambers were bent out of shape. Thanks to underwater footage we were quickly able pinpoint the cause; shackles had disconnected from the mooring, which increased the forces on the ones remaining as well as the floater. After our diagnosis, we continued to closely observe the situation and decided to take the barrier back to shore after close to two months.

The design has changed since (bottom of page).

These Youtube fragments have some more shots:

Video 1
Video 2 (Dutch)
Video 3

That last video goes into detail about it's design and later versions. The comments state that

the new North Sea tests are aimed at assessing two variations of floater-screen connections as well as the application of antifouling on the screen

* A long pole, often heavy, e.g. along the foot of a sail. In this case, sheets/screens are hanging down from it.

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ This is a great description of the project, but can you describe what this boom is for specifically? Why is it so large and substantial? What is it used to support? Thanks! $\endgroup$
    – uhoh
    Mar 27, 2018 at 13:27
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Stupid question: what's a "boom" in this context? $\endgroup$
    – Gimelist
    Mar 27, 2018 at 13:33
  • 3
    $\begingroup$ @Michael 3rd definition (noun) here $\endgroup$
    – Jan Doggen
    Mar 27, 2018 at 14:00
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ it is a long floating object created to collect floating plastic from the ocean,in about ten years time there will be more plastic than fish in the ocean and this is a bad thing. $\endgroup$ Mar 27, 2018 at 15:03
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    $\begingroup$ @uhoh A boom is an implement that floats on top of the water and blocks passage of other floating contaminants (usually oil, but in this case plastic). Here's some info about different types used in cleanup operations: response.restoration.noaa.gov/oil-and-chemical-spills/… $\endgroup$
    – thanby
    Mar 27, 2018 at 19:05

Jan Doggen's answer identifies some sources that tell a bit more about Boomy itself, so I'd like to address overall what a boom actually is in this context, and make an educated guess about the purpose of Boomy.

A boom, in this context, is a large floating device intended to surround or block an area of water, keeping surface contaminants either in or out (depending on the application). Most commonly they are used in isolating oil spills, or protecting sensitive locations from oil. Oil floats on water, and a floating boom creates a surface barrier which effectively blocks the oil from spreading. This page from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), a division of the United States government, explains the various types of booms commonly used in environmental cleanup.

Some excerpts from the page:

Booms are floating, physical barriers to oil, made of plastic, metal, or other materials, which slow the spread of oil and keep it contained.


There are three main types of boom. Hard boom is like a floating piece of plastic that has a cylindrical float at the top and is weighted at the bottom so that it has a "skirt" under the water. If the currents or winds are not too strong, booms can also be used to make the oil go in a different direction (this is called "deflection booming"). Sorbent boom looks like a long sausage made out of a material that absorbs oil. If you were to take the inside of a disposable diaper out and roll it into strips, it would act much like a sorbent boom. Sorbent booms don't have the "skirt" that hard booms have, so they can't contain oil for very long. Fire boom is not used very much. It looks like metal plates with a floating metal cylinder at the top and thin metal plates that make the "skirt" in the water. This type of boom is made to contain oil long enough that it can be lit on fire and burned up.

With that in mind, and considering the context of Boomy McBoomFace having something to do with the Pacific garbage patch, I think it is safe to theorize that Boomy is being designed to help collect garbage floating at the surface in a similar manner to how the booms described above collect/block oil.

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Super! Thanks for taking the time to "lower the boom" on us landlubbers. $\endgroup$
    – uhoh
    Mar 28, 2018 at 13:28

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