Swimmer Attempting Trans-Pacific Swim Teams Up With WHOI

COURTESY KEN BUESSELER WHOI scientist Ken Buesseler is working with a long-distance swimmer to chart the effects of radiation fallout on the Pacific Ocean.

COURTESY KEN BUESSELER
WHOI scientist Ken Buesseler is working with a long-distance swimmer Ben Lecompte to chart the effects of the Fukushima nuclear accident’s radiation fallout on the Pacific Ocean.

WOODS HOLE – The Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution is teaming up with an athlete who will try to swim 5,000 miles across the Pacific Ocean, from Tokyo to San Francisco.

Ben Lecomte will attempt the swim 17 years after swimming across the Atlantic, and he’ll be helping scientists at WHOI studying the impacts of the Fukushima nuclear accident.

“It is important to use my passion as a way to get the attention on the issue that physically affects all of us,” said Lecomte, who has been at WHOI this week testing out brand new equipment for the swim.

“We have something that we’re trying to develop, a prototype called the ‘RadBand.’ It’s a wearable device to actually collect those same elements those same cesium isotopes on your ankle as you’re swimming,” said Ken Buesseler, a senior scientist at WHOI studying radioactive materials that were released into the ocean as a result of Fukushima.

“We’re going to sample water throughout the crossing. [The RadBand] will be able to tell us what is in the water and what we are swimming through,” Lecomte said.

Plans call for Lecomte for swim about 8 hours a day, before boarding a boat travelling along with him for test.

“I’m very excited about doing it,” Lecomte said of the 5,000 mile trek. “It has been something I have thought about for a very long time,”

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