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Plastic Bottle Boat Makes a Splash in Sydney Harbour

  • Monday 4th March 2013

On Sunday 3rd March 2013 the SEA LIFE TRUST successfully competed in
one of Australia's largest open water paddling events, 'Manly Wharf Bridge to Beach' in a one man boat made of plastic bottles.

The boat, manned and made by Tom Simmat - ultra-marathon champion kayaker and bottle boat builder - took off with 253 other competitors underneath Sydney Harbour Bridge to complete the 11km challenge, finishing at Manly Cove in a respectable time of two hours and five minutes and, to the relief of all involved, with the boat in one piece.

The boat was constructed using approximately 1,000 discarded plastic bottles - straight from Sydney Harbour - to highlight the impact of discarded bottles and raise awareness of the current debate around the National Container Deposit Scheme (CDS).

In Australia alone it's estimated that almost 13 billion drinks are consumed in containers of which less than half are recycled. The rest end up in the environment or landfill.

The SEA LIFE TRUST started collecting plastic bottles at the start of the year, with over 2000 bottles collected from the harbour across both SEA LIFE Sydney Aquarium and Manly SEA LIFE Sanctuary. It took a team of four people over 100 hours to build the boat for the race, with another display boat also built with the remaining bottles.

Claudette Rechtorik, Program Manager at SEA LIFE TRUST who helped create the boat commented; "Myself and the team are incredibly proud of the fantastic boat that was constructed, she even has a rudder and clear bottom so you can see the marine life as you glide across the shimmering water. This boat was created to draw people's attention, which certainly worked and of course to get people thinking about plastic pollution and what we can do about it, as well as to show our support and gather signatures for the National Container Deposit Scheme. It has been a long but rewarding process to collect over 2,000 bottles from the harbour and I would like to extend my sincere thanks to everyone who was involved in making this happen, in particular to Tom Simmat who did such a great job of not only building the boat, but successfully completing the 11km stretch today, which was no easy feat in a boat made of bottles!"

The government is set to make a decision on the CDS in April 2013 after agreeing to trial various options this year.

The SEA LIFE TRUST is committed to the breeding, rescuing and protecting of Australia's unique aquatic animals and their habitats. To find out more information about SLT visit: