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Plastic Raft Sails to Plastic Dump in the Pacific Ocean

By Andrew Moseman
Jul 28, 2008 9:30 PMNov 5, 2019 8:45 AM


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Earlier this month, DISCOVER covered the North Pacific Gyre, a vast dump of plastic and garbage in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, and the researchers who sailed to the middle of the ocean aboard the Alguita to study it. Now, to further publicize this eco-disaster, three scientists are sailing back to the gyre, but this time aboard a slightly less luxurious boat—a raft built of 15,000 plastic bottles, and part of a Cessna. The JUNK raft set sail from Southern California on June 1, bound for Hawaii, carrying Marcus Eriksen and two colleagues. You can watch their progress here or read about it on their blog. Making a pace of about 50 miles a day, they hope to reach Hawaii by mid-to-late August. Eriksen's garbage watercraft is no helpless flotilla, however. This plastic pontoon features GPS tracking, satellite phones, and a Coast Guard beacon, so there's little chance Eriksen and his crew will end up drifting aimlessly like Tom Hanks in Cast Away. Given some of the depressing statistics about ocean pollution—that plastic in the oceanic garbage dump outweighs zooplankton six to one, and goes as far down as 300 feet below sea level—here's hoping the plastic raft's voyage gathers some more attention.

Image: flickr/Boby Dimitrov

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