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GoPro for a Cause Spotlight: Celebrating The Ocean Cleanup's 10th Anniversary

Feb. 21, 2023

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Since The Ocean Cleanup's founding in 2013, they've pioneered methods and technologies for removing plastic from the world's oceans—reaching significant milestones as they work toward their goal to clean up 90% of the world's floating ocean plastic by 2040.


Along the way, they've captured their work with GoPro cameras and shared it with the world. We're thrilled to share their origin story and showcase their achievements in a GoPro for a Cause video (featured below). To the GoPro community—please join us in celebrating The Ocean Cleanup’s 10-year journey and thanking them for their innovation, dedication, and the positive impact they are having on our planet.


To learn more about how The Ocean Cleanup and GoPro for a Cause collaboration started, let's hear from Florent Beauverd, Head of Creative and Documentary Productions, at The Ocean Cleanup.


Cleaning the Ocean, One Impossible Shot at a Time


Words by Florent Beauverd, The Ocean Cleanup


The Ocean Cleanup is an international nonprofit project that develops and scales technologies to rid the world's oceans of plastic. We aim to achieve this goal by taking a two-pronged approach: stemming the inflow via rivers and cleaning up what has already accumulated in the ocean.


You might be thinking, "That sounds great, but what does it have to do with GoPro?" Well, it turns out GoPro cameras have played an important role in the story of The Ocean Cleanup.

Before The Ocean Cleanup even existed, Founder and CEO Boyan Slat used a GoPro to film the plastic pollution problem while he was on a scuba-diving trip. He shared the footage in his initial TED talk, which went viral and sparked The Ocean Cleanup's initial crowdfunding in 2013.

Three years later, I joined The Ocean Cleanup's communication team. When I joined in September 2016, I spent my first few days looking at archival footage. From recordings of scale model tests in swimming pools to research expedition footage on the ocean, I spotted an abundance of fascinating GoPro clips.


GoPro usage rapidly increased as I, a former freeskiing filmmaker, took the lead in the content production efforts of the young organization. With big dreams but small budgets, I relied heavily on GoPro cameras to shoot the adventures the team members were embarking on across the globe.


On my second week on the job, I went onboard a research aircraft to perform an audacious and first-of-a-kind reconnaissance mission to the Great Pacific Garbage Patch with a team of scientists. The day before the flight, I rushed to a local store to buy as many HERO4 Session cameras as we could afford. I duct-taped them all around the plane, even in the pilot's cabin. I think people were sort of annoyed with me at first. A few days later, the footage was all over the news in California.


A few months, and hundreds of gigabytes of GoPro footage later, I was joined at The Ocean Cleanup by former CNN producer Dan van der Kooy.

"It's around that time that The Ocean Cleanup made a deeper connection with GoPro,” recalls van der Kooy. “Chris Clark from the Corporate Communications and Cause team at GoPro invited [Florent] and me to visit their headquarters in San Mateo and told us a few hours later that GoPro was onboard and excited to support our needs from a capture standpoint."


Since then, GoPro's support, through the GoPro for a Cause nonprofit partnership program, has enabled our creative duo to deploy lots of GoPro cameras in more innovative, challenging (and sometimes risky) conditions. From the launch of the first ocean cleanup system in San Francisco in 2018 to the first attempt at stopping a plastic tsunami in Guatemala in 2022, every significant milestone of the organization is documented from countless GoPro angles.


Reinforced in 2020 by a third creative producer, Valentina Marinelic, The Ocean Cleanup can now pull off incredible programs. The latest example is a 5-hour-long live stream titled "Checkpoint 2022." This original program showcased the delivery of Interceptor 007—the first river trash Interceptor in the USA - to its deployment location in Ballona Creek in Los Angeles, Calif.


It would take a book to explain all the ways we've been using GoPro cameras and continue to use them. From long-term time lapses to TimeWarps, from impossible angles to first-person views, from underwater live streams to making custom mounts for the GoPro MAX—we never run out of ideas.


But out of everything The Ocean Cleanup did with GoPro, the award for the most unexpected use case goes to the scientific team and, more specifically, to our Geospatial Analyst, Robin de Vries. Robin used GoPro cameras to shoot millions of pictures of the ocean's surface to develop and train an AI plastic detection algorithm. Probably not exactly the use GoPro had in mind originally, but hey, there are many ways to be a hero.


Learn more about The Ocean Cleanup here, and you can support The Ocean Cleanup's mission here.


Learn more about getting involved with GoPro for a Cause here.

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