Fluke, a boat that floats on 800 two-liter bottles, sailed from Marina del Rey on Memorial Day weekend to continue its 300-mile journey from Santa Barbara to San Diego.

Constructed with bottles for flotation, 1,000 plastic bags braided into rope and 50 polyester shirts quilted into a sail, Fluke is traveling the Southern California coast to raise awareness about the plastic pollution problems in the Pacific Ocean.

At the helm of Fluke is Dr. Marcus Eriksen, a Culver City resident and education advisor for the Algalita Marine Research Foundation (AMRF).

“Last summer, our foundation traveled 1,000 miles off the coast of California and found that plastic debris accumulates there and outweighs marine life on the surface six-to-one,” Eriksen said. “It’s a plastic soup out there.”

An estimated 3.5 million tons of plastic debris float on the surface of the world’s oceans, according to Algalita Marine Research Foundation founder Cap- tain Charles Moore.

Before Fluke sailed off, Eriksen engaged Marina del Rey Middle School students in a discussion of the problem of the plastic pollution and potential solutions. Eriksen said the students were surprised when they were presented with plastic bottles covered with barnacles, a pile of tangled fishing nets, and a sample of the ocean surface.

While leaving Marina del Rey, Eriksen said he saw a trail of hundreds of plastic bags floating out to sea from the harbor.

The Algalita Marine Research Foundation estimates that 80 percent of plastic found in the ocean originates on land, with the remaining 20 percent coming from fishing vessels and offshore dumping.

But Eriksen said there is hope, with zero-waste legislation gaining attention in California.

“Zero-waste means finding new ways to move away from a throwaway society because there is no such thing as ‘away’,” he said.

Some pollution prevention measures are under way, such as storm drain inserts that capture debris before it enters the sewers.

New bioplastics, such as biodegradable plastics made from corn, are becoming readily available.

New policies are being introduced that hold manufacturers responsible for the end use of what they produce.

A plastic bag tax is being considered in some parts of the state, Eriksen said.

“These are innovative ways to keep plastic off our streets, out of rivers, wetlands, and off our beaches, and ultimately out of the ocean,” he said. “But, as always, it begins with informed and responsible citizens.

“Plastics have their place, but not floating in our Marina.”

Information, www.algalita.org or www.plasticsareforever.org

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