In his new book, Junk Raft, Marcus Eriksen discovers a sea filled with tiny particles of harmful plastic.
In the summer of 1997, sea captain and surfer Charles Moore was sailing home from Hawaii. He’d been recently finished the TransPacific Yacht Race, and on the way back to California, he decided to take a shortcut. Instead of following the current that swoops along the edge of the North Pacific subtropical gyre, he set a course through the still waters of the high-pressure zone at its center. “1997 was the largest El Niño on record,” he recalled years later. “It had the warmest surface water in the Pacific,” which made the waters extremely smooth and calm. As Moore passed through, he noticed something: trash—specifically plastic trash—all around. This remote part of the ocean was, he told Stephen Colbert in 2010, “a disgusting plastic cesspool.” Read more.