Scientist finds beloved lake from his childhood polluted, see what he did next
What if there were a totally safe, biodegradable nanomaterial that could transform polluted ponds and lakes into healthy, vibrant ecosystems again? It turns out, that such a technology already exists, created by a young man named Marino Morikawa.
A Peruvian-Japanese scientist with a degree in environmental science from a university in Japan, Marino Morikawa, Ph.D., decided he had to do something after getting a call from his dad.
His father called him to say that a beloved lake from his childhood, El Cascajo in the Cascajo wetlands of Peru, had become so contaminated that officials decided it would need to be capped. Marino decided to fly from Japan to see it with his own eyes. He just couldn’t believe it.
The lake used to be home to exotic birds like flamingos. He and his father would sit and fish for hours and watch the birds, but now, 20 years later, it was foul smelling and decaying.
The lake was contaminated by agricultural runoff from livestock like pigs, cattle, and sheep. There were also illegal landfills nearby and a drainage canal that leaked waste into the water. Marino has a degree in Bioindustrial Science and specializes in water treatment. He knew he had to try to save the lake and he was uniquely positioned to do so since his family was good friends with the local mayor.
First, he had a spiritual encounter with El Cascajo.
“This is hard to explain and might be difficult for many people to understand. But the first thing I did was kneel down in the wetlands,” explained Marino. “When I put my hands on the ground, I felt a heartbeat, a pulse under my hands. You’re alive, I said, you’re not dead like everyone thinks you are.”
— Leyton Insights (EN) (@InsightsEN) January 18, 2019
Marino told the skeptical mayor of the town that he alone would save the lake, and it wouldn’t cost the town anything at all. The local government had tried many times without success, but they allowed Marino to give it a try, with a goal of restoring the lake within a year.
The ambitious scientist took out bank loans in Japan and traveled back to his laboratory at Tsukuba University. There over six months, he perfected two nanotechnologies that he believed would work: a micro-nano bubbling system and a biofilter.
The microscopic bubbles trap viruses and bacteria like a spider web as they slowly rise through the water, killing them and releasing them as a gas into the air.
Then, Marino made ceramic biofilters in a pottery course that would help beneficial microorganisms and bacteria to grow in a biofilm. Anyone who has had an aquarium will be familiar with the idea.
His two innovations were relatively inexpensive, but he would need large quantities.
“Never use an expensive resource in a poor area, while you can use the home material,” he said.
Mi amigo el Dr. Marino Morikawa de la Universidad japonesa de Tsukuba es una eminencia en restauración de humedales. pic.twitter.com/j5I1vvQ8rN
— Luis M Domínguez (@DOMINGUEZLM) May 7, 2014
Armed with the two nanotechnologies, Marino triumphantly returned to Peru, where he decontaminated the entire wetland in just four months time. He lived up to his side of the bargain, a shocking feat for one man.
The transformation was so remarkable that 40 species of birds and 10 species of fish returned to the lake, as well as people, who once more enjoyed swimming and recreational use.
Marino’s efforts were a huge success, inspiring his community to work with him and learn how they could keep the wetlands pristine. Now, he wants to take what he has learned and apply it on a much bigger scale, cleaning the highest lake in the world, Lake Titicaca in South America. The lake is 3,300 square miles and is called a “sacred lake” by the local Aymara people.
We bet that Marino Morikawa can save the sacred lake, and his ideas will help restore polluted lakes and ponds all over the world.
You can follow Marino Morikawa on Facebook. He is one impressive guy who proves that one person can have a profound impact in the world.
See what happened at El Cascajo below:
Featured image: Screenshot via YouTube