New river monster feasts only on rubbish

Do we have a throwaway culture? Rivers overflowing with litter have a new robot protector; WasteShark wants to take a bite out of the pollution problem.

It’s a shark attack! But you don’t need to be afraid — unless you’re a plastic bottle or a crisp packet.

In the fight against the rubbish that chokes its rivers, New York City has turned to a robot shark.

WasteShark is a drone that floats on the surface of the water, gathering trash into its hollow insides.

It is called WasteShark because, even though it looks more like a lawnmower, the design is inspired by the whale shark.

These sharks are the biggest fish in the world, but unlike their great white cousins, they are harmless. They eat by swimming with their giant mouths open, and filter the food they eat out of the water.

WasteShark is only one-tenth as big as its role model. But in a day, it can take about a tonne of trash out of the water.

Millions of tonnes of plastic flow from rivers into the sea, harming marine life at every stage of their journey.

Even a shiver of WasteSharks cannot fix the plastic problem. Its filter is not fine enough to get rid of microplastics.

These little particles are smaller than glitter and are everywhere. In the Hudson River in New York, scientists estimate there are 62,000 particles per square kilometre.

To stop microplastics, we have to stop producing so much waste. We need to recycle more and consume less. But WasteShark is hungry to help.