Eriksen, Up to His Ears in Floating Detritus of the Modern World.
(Photo: Algalita Marine Research Blog)
Dr. Marcus Erikson came home after a tour in the 1991 Gulf War and returned to school to earn his PhD in Science Education from the University of Southern California. Just months after that, he built a raft and drifted down the Mississippi River, an experience he chronicled in his book, My River Home.
Further curiosity led him to build a 30′ raft of 15,000 water bottles, using a Cessna airplane fuselage as a cabin. He set sail aboard his plasticine contraption from Los Angeles, California en route to Ala Wai Harbor, Oahu, Hawaii in 2008. Along with Joel Paschal, another “eco-mariner,” the pair sailed 2,600 miles over the course 88 days, attracting enormous attention to his then startup organization, The 5 Gyres Institute. Since, Erikson has sailed well over 35,000 miles through all 5 of the subtropical gyres, places where ocean currents meet and form a large vortex. This vortex pulls in and collects anything and everything that the currents gather along the way, including plastics and other floating debris.
Now, as the executive director and co-founder of the 5 Gyres Institute, Eriksen is dedicated to studying the five massive subtropical gyres with the goal of reducing and ultimately eliminating the scourge of plastic pollution in our oceans, all in the name of research, education and adventure. We caught up with him after he and a crew sailed up from Bermuda into the Arctic in search of more garbage. “Unfortunately,” he says, “we found it.”
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