Sunday, February 17, 2008

Meet the crew: Dr. Marcus Eriksen

Latitude: 35 59.71 Longitude: 134 40.28

Hey Ship to Shore students!

A word about where we are right now, and then its time to meet our next crew member, Marcus.Right now, we’re in an area that the ancient mariners referred to as the “horse latitudes”, also known as “the doldrums”. Notoriously calm - a sailor’s nemesis. If we were only sailing, we would be "As idle as a painted ship upon a painted ocean," as Samuel Taylor Coleridge wrote in his poem, "The Rhyme of the Ancient Mariner." The story behind this: back in the days when ships laden with fine cattle and horses would transport cargo by sea, those passing between Latitudes 30 and 40 were sometimes stalled in a windless lake, redundant sails a flutter. As supplies dwindled, and fresh water reserved for human consumption, perished livestock were tossed overboard.

Fortunately, we have a solar powered reverse osmosis desalinization unit to make fresh water, and plenty of food, so no ones getting tossed. If you want to see how we all keep ourselves occupied on these long days in the doldrums, check the ORV Alguita blog.

Now, to meet Marcus. In addition to working for Algalita, Marcus is a paleontologist – every summer he digs up dinosaur bones in Wyoming, and he made a video called “Dino Dig”, about excavating an entire Triceratops in 3 months. Marcus also builds boats out of recycled plastic bottles – here he is rafting down the Mississippi River and the LA River.

A few words from Marcus:

“As the Director of Education and Research for the Algalita Marine Research Foundation, it is my job to make our findings accessible to the public. While we collect our research samples, I’m also collecting education samples to give away to educators, policy makers, and other organizations. The plastic marine debris issue is the ultimate case of “out of sight, out of mind.” By putting samples in the hands of people, then they have to look at it and choose, “Do I turn my back on this, or do something about it?” That’s one big reason why I’m out here.

Right now we’re in a high pressure zone. It’s relatively calm, warm, and we’re plagued with a lethargic wind and current…perfect for plastic! We’re finding lots of pea-sized fragments of plastic, as well as bits of monofilament and pieces of plastic film from bags and tarps. One of our surface trawls easily had 50 times more plastic than plankton by weight. There was hardly anything in the collection bag, just plastic junk. So, how does it make me feel? Ashamed that we’ve allowed this to happen, and disappointed by those that resist changing our culture to be more responsible. But I am optimistic that we will find a solution before we’ve poisoned our ocean beyond its ability to recover.”

Any questions you have for Marcus – fire away, he’ll be happy to answer you directly.

Aloha and gracias from the Captain and Crew of ORV Alguita!


chris said...

wow.. i am in much admiration of this effort and idea..

chris in sweden:)

Anonymous said...

A million thanks for bringing attention to the plastic issue. I live near the beach in SF and cannot begin to describe the amount of plastic washing ashore with every big storm. Plastic should be removed from low-cost, meaningless produts. I'd like to take a trip like this, with some surf too!
Kathleen from Ocean Beach, SF