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Articles by Senior Impact Editor Catharine Smith

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This story was originally published by HuffPost and is reproduced here as part of the Climate Desk collaboration.

Ben Lecomte is swimming through tons of plastic. Pieces of it have gotten stuck to his face. He’s passed abandoned fishing nets that tangle and kill wildlife. He’s held pieces of broken storage crates blooming with algae and barnacles. And he wants us to see it all — so we know what we’ve done to the planet.

In June, the athlete and environmental advocate embarked on a swim through a highly polluted stretch between Hawaii and California. By September, he hopes to traverse 300 nautical miles of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, the world’s largest accumulation of marine plastic debris. It’s an area that’s not well understood, despite recent media attention to the growing problem of plastic waste.

A member of the Vortex Swim team photographs an abandoned fishing net bobbing near the surface. @JoshMunoz / Vortex Swim

Lecomte’s effort, called the Vortex Swim, is part adventure, part research experiment. His team — scientists, sailors, and photographers — don’t guide him in... Read more

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