Ocean Pollution Research Uncovers the Growing Problem

Patti MayonnaiseJanuary 3, 2015506 Views

Not many adults you meet will reminisce about their favorite childhood pastime at the local dump. However, Marcus Eriksen is far from your average guy. Having grown up in New Orleans, he enjoyed surrounding himself with trash at the local dumpster dives simply daydreaming as the garbage was fed to the incinerator. Eriksen knew at a young age that he wanted nothing more than to commit his life to better understanding the proposed enigma of trash on a global scale. His primary question: Where does it go?

When it came time to dedicate his professional career to this study, he quickly realized that theoceanpollution2 number of research papers written on ocean debris could literally be counted on his hands. This is why Marcus Eriksen set out to found an institute called 5 Gyres which studies plastic pollutants in the ocean. Since the start of 5 Gyres back in 2009 following his Ph.D. obtainment, Eriksen has logged over 35 thousand miles in the name of tracking garbage. His dedication and hard work allowed him the opportunity to calculate and publish a new estimation of our seas’ floating plastic pollutants. With an approximate 5.25 trillion pieces of debris ranging in various sizes, Marcus estimates that the accumulation would weigh an astonishing 270 thousand metric tons. While around 92 percent of these floating plastic pieces are mere particles according to his research, combining this large number still constitutes a tremendous quantity of trash.

This hazardous waste is absorbed by the marine life which eventually cycles around to affect us oceanpollution1making it a massive problem. Although metals can oxidize and paper is biodegradable, plastic is a very different creature. The researcher is not stopping at a simple tally and logging of this information. His ultimate goal is to put a stop to it through raised awareness. Eriksen has been doing so with unconventional techniques such as sailing from L.A. to Hawaii on a raft comprised of a salvaged plan kept afloat by 15 thousand plastic bottles. While this 88 day voyage was three times longer than he had planned and nearly fatal, Eriksen did raise some awareness for his cause.

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