JUNK RAFT SAILS TO HAWAII TO PROTEST PLASTIC POLLUTION OF THE SEA.
SYNOPSIS: Two eco-mariners are sailing a raft built of junk to help call attention to a major oceanic environmental problem – the accumulation of plastic trash in the seas.
WHY IS THIS PROBLEM IMPORTANT: The huge volume of plastic trash now drifting in the oceans interrupts the feeding of marine life (birds choke on plastic trash, plankton ingest microscopic particles of plastics) and plastics release toxins into the water.
WHERE IS IT WORST: In the North Pacific Gyre, north of Hawaii, there is now more plastic, by weight, than plankton. It’s a huge region of circling currents that concentrate the debris, thousands of miles from land.
WHAT IS BEING DONE ABOUT IT: The Algalita Marine Research Foundation sponsor of the voyage, is studying the problem. An increasing number of environmental groups are backing legislation to cut back on the use of disposable plastics. Heal the Bay, another major sponsor of the voyage, currently runs a major program on the problem of plastics in the sea. The journey is intended to help call attention to these projects.
DEPARTURE FROM CALIFORNIA: June 1, 2008 from Long Beach Aquarium
ARRIVAL IN HAWAII: August 27, 2008 (current estimate) in Ala Wai Harbor, near Honolulu, Oahu
THE TWO MARINERS: Dr. Marcus Eriksen, Joel Paschal, with Anna Cummins as ground support.
PURPOSE OF JOURNEY: To call attention to the growing problem of plastic trash in the Pacific Ocean
THE RAFT: 30 feet long, built on six pontoons filled with 15,000 plastic bottles, deck is made of salvaged sailboat masts, cabin is the fuselage of a Cessna airplane, the vessel has 4 sails and can make 90 degrees headway into the wind.
SPEED: roughly 2 knots, equals about 50 miles per day
FOOD: They brought several months supply which has been supplemented with mahi mahi and squid they have caught along the way
MOST DANGEROUS MOMENT: Driving to the Long Beach Aquarium on the day of departure (everything has been smooth sailing since then)
THE BAD NEWS (and a major headline): After nearly 3 months at sea, NONE of the 15,000 plastic bottles have shown much sign of wear and tear, showing how incredibly durable these plastic are that wash into the sea.
SPONSORS: The project gained initial support from the Sky Scrape Foundation and the Burbank Recycling Center which provided most of the 15,000 bottles. However, Patagonia also gave over 1000 Nalgene bottles that are being phased out of their product line due to concerns over chemicals in the plastics. One of the sponsors, Eco-Usables has developed a stainless steel safe alternative to plastic water bottles. Students from Santa Monica High School and the Environmental Charter High School helped stuff the bottles into the pontoons, and MUSE Elementary provided support. Additional sponsors include Kashi Cereal, LA Green Drinks, Patagonia, Shifting Baselines, Solar Design Associates, MUSE Elementary School, and North Face.