Expedition Plastic: Plastic in the Ocean Gyres and What It Is Doing to Wildlife


Expedition Plastic: Plastic in the Ocean Gyres and What It Is Doing to Wildlife

May 11

Marcus Eriksen is currently the Director of Research and co-founder of the 5 Gyres Institute. He received his Ph.D. in Science Education from University of Southern California in 2003, months before embarking on a 2000-mile, 5-month journey down the Mississippi River on a homemade raft. His experience on the river led to a career studying the ecological impacts of plastic marine pollution, which has included expeditions sailing 35,000 miles through all 5 subtropical gyres to discover new garbage patches of plastic pollution in the Southern Hemisphere.

Still rafting, his most recent adventure sent him and a colleague across the Pacific Ocean from California to Hawaii on JUNK, a homemade raft floating on 15,000 plastic bottles and a Cessina airplane fuselage as a cabin (junkraft.com). The journey, 2,600 miles in 88 days, brought attention to the work of the 5 Gyres Institute, the organization he co-founded with his wife Anna in 2009. The goal is to drive marine conservation through continued research, education and action, studying and lecturing about the plague of plastic waste in our watersheds and in the sea.

His first book, titled “My River Home” (Beacon Press, 2007) chronicled his Mississippi River experience paralleled with his tour as a Marine in the 1991 Gulf War. The experience of war, sailing across the gyres with diverse crews, and long rafting voyages, have led to a strong conservation ethic worth fighting for. “We must understand and define conservation as self-preservation – a rationale that crosses all boundaries between all people.