Seminar: Synthetic Sea, Synthetic Me: Plastic debris in the marine environment

  • Place: AERL 120 (map)
  • Date: Friday, April 3
  • Time: 11am

Dr. Marcus Eriksen and Anna Cummins are from the Algalita Marine Research Foundation (AMRF), where Marcus is the Director of Research and Education, and Anna is an Education Advisor. Both are published authors with a focus on educational outreach materials and have a number of awards and fellowships between them. For the past ten years AMRF has studied the impacts of plastic marine debris in the North Pacific Gyre. Results from AMRF’s 2008 gyre expedition found a doubling in the density of surface plastics in just ten years, as well as new evidence of plastic ingestion by lantern fish. The environmental effects of plastics on 44% of seabird species, 22 cetaceans, and all sea turtles is now rapidly impacting fish fit for human consumption.

This seminar will discuss the issue of plastic debris fouling our oceans, entering our food chain, and ultimately winding up on our dinner plates. Anna and Marcus will share their recent project to build JUNK, a raft from 15,000 bottles that sailed to Hawaii this past summer, as well as their current JUNKride voyage, cycling from Vancouver to Tijuana to raise awareness about plastic marine debris. Learn how the rapid accumulation of plastic debris is impacting the marine foodweb, and what we can do to stop the plastic plague. More information at and

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Dave Semeniuk spends hours locked up in his office, thinking about the role the oceans play in controlling global climate, and unique ways of studying it. He'd also like to shamelessly plug his art practice: