University of Alaska Southeast

Turning the Tides

Juneau, AK
Date of Press Release: September 16, 2008

Dr. Marcus Eriksen, Director of Research and Education at Algalita Marine Research Foundation, returns to Juneau after completing an 87-day voyage from California to Hawaii in a 30-foot raft made of 15,000 plastic bottles and a Cessna fuselage.   He and film-maker, Joel Paschal, undertook this challenging expedition to call attention to the growing problem of plastic trash in the Pacific Ocean .  Their route took them through the “North Pacific Gyre”, an area larger than the size of Texas , where ocean currents concentrate plastic debris.  “The most ubiquitous trash out here is plastic and the most common I would say are fragments of plastic bags and water bottles," Dr Eriksen said.  "You find bottle caps all over the place and micro-fragments of plastic film as well.  We need to change our culture from one of a disposable culture to one of sustainability - it is the best thing we can do this century."   News media from the BBC, CNN, and ABC to The Hindi, India ’s national newspaper, covered the voyage and both sailors posted daily to their blogspot, junkraft.

Dr. Eriksen and Anna Cummins, an Education Advisor for Algalita who provided ground support for the voyage, will speak on the extent and danger of plastic pollution in the ocean and describe the adventure aboard the Junk raft.

The first presentation will be on Monday, September 22 at 7 P.M. at the UAS Egan Lecture Hall and the second will be on Tuesday, September 23 at the Downtown Nickelodeon at 5:30 pm.  In addition to the two evening presentations, they will also speak to 4th and 5th graders at Gastineau Elementary School , speak at the Ocean celebration, and enjoy some downtime in rainy Juneau.

During Dr. Eriksen’s visit to Juneau in 2007 he supervised the construction of Turning the Tides’ plastic-bottle boat, Plastic Poison, and testified before the legislature on Senator Kim Elton's bill to assess a fee to plastic grocery bags.

His speaking tour is sponsored by Turning the Tides and Turning the Tides at UAS as part of the Ocean Celebration on September 21 and International Coastal Cleanup on September 20.

For more information or to schedule an interview, contact Carol Anderson at 586-2410.

Contacts:

Carol Anderson

Turnig the Tides

(907) 586-2410