The sixty-foot catamaran, Plastiki, constructed from about 12,500 discarded plastic bottles and equipped with sustainable solar panels, arrived in Sydney, Australia on Monday, July 26 following a four-month voyage that began in San Francisco, USA. Expedition leader and environmentalist David de Rothschild, said the journey was motivated by a 2006 United Nations report warning of the perils of plastic in the world’s seas as it stated that every square mile of the oceans contained 46,000 pieces of floating plastic debris.
Voyaging 8,000 nautical miles, Mr. de Rothschild along with 5 other crew members endured storms and other challenges on the journey. They also witnessed first-hand the North Pacific gyre, a place where some 3.5 million tons of discarded plastic has gathered in an enormous current and clustered together in a swirling mass of waste the size of Texas, USA.
Saying that this debris now represents a real threat to marine life, World Wildlife Fund Policy Manager for Marine Species Lydia Gibson stated, “Plastic garbage, which decomposes very slowly, is often mistaken for food by marine animals.
High concentrations of plastic material, particularly plastic bags, have been found blocking the breathing passages and stomachs of many marine species, including whales, dolphins, seals, puffins and turtles.
Plastic six-pack rings for drink bottles and cans can also choke marine animals.” As one example of the unimaginably horrific effects of this marine waste, the stomach of a rare eight-meter Bryde's whale discovered perished on an Australian beach was found to be jammed with almost six square meters of plastic, including supermarket bags, food packaging, three large sheets of plastic and fragments of garbage bags.
The returned Plastiki will be on display for a month at the Australian National Maritime Museum where the crew members will hold public speaking events to raise awareness of the increasingly dire effects of plastic waste in the ocean.
Mr. de Rothschild said, “The plan is to create a global oceans exhibit that can showcase not only the issue of throw-away plastics but really about nurturing and re-evaluating our oceans... our most precious of ecosystems.”
Our admiring salute, Mr. de Rothschild and crew on the success of your eco-adventure as we also thank World Wildlife Fund for their caring efforts on behalf of marine co-inhabitants.
May more and more people become aware and motivated toward actions that consider all lives on our shared planetary home. Supreme Master Ching Hai has often spoken of the importance of our care for other beings in a larger picture of global balance, as during a July 2008 video conference in Formosa (Taiwan).