Charles J. Moore

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Photograph of Captain Charles Moore, wearing "Forever Moore" by Marina DeBris, made with trash from the Pacific Gyre. Photograph by LaRue.

Charles J. Moore is an oceanographer and racing boat captain known for articles that recently brought attention to the 'Great Pacific Garbage Patch',[1] an area of the Pacific Ocean strewn with floating plastic debris which is twice the size of Texas.[2] In addition to his work on the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, Moore also serves as science advisor to 5 Gyres, another organization also working on the garbage patch.

Great Pacific Garbage Patch[edit]

In 1997, while returning to southern california after finishing the Los Angeles-to-Hawaii Transpac sailing race, he and his crew caught sight of trash floating in the North Pacific Gyre, one of the most remote regions of the ocean. He wrote articles about the extent of this garbage, and the effects on sea life, which attracted significant attention in the media.

“As I gazed from the deck at the surface of what ought to have been a pristine ocean,” Moore later wrote in an essay for Natural History, “I was confronted, as far as the eye could see, with the sight of plastic. It seemed unbelievable, but I never found a clear spot. In the week it took to cross the subtropical high, no matter what time of day I looked, plastic debris was floating everywhere: bottles, bottle caps, wrappers, fragments.” An oceanographic colleague of Moore’s dubbed this floating junk yard “the Great Pacific Garbage Patch,” and despite Moore’s efforts to suggest different metaphors — “a swirling sewer,” “a superhighway of trash” connecting two “trash cemeteries” — “Garbage Patch” appears to have stuck.

His 1999 study showed that there was six times more plastic in this part of the ocean than the zooplankton that feeds ocean life.[3] In 2002, a later study showed that even off the coast of California, plastic outweighed zooplankton by a factor of 5:2. These numbers were significantly higher than expected, and shocked many oceanographers.

Algalita Marine Research Foundation[edit]

Moore is the founder of the Algalita Marine Research Foundation in Long Beach, California, and currently works there.

In 2008 the Foundation organized the JUNK Raft project, to "creatively raise awareness about plastic debris and pollution in the ocean", and specifically the Great Pacific Garbage Patch trapped in the North Pacific Gyre, by sailing 2,600 miles across the Pacific Ocean on a 30-foot-long (9.1 m) raft made from an old Cessna 310 aircraft fuselage and six pontoons filled with 15,000 old plastic bottles. Crewed by Dr. Marcus Eriksen of the Foundation, and film-maker Joel Paschal, the raft set off from Long Beach, California on 1 June 2008, arriving in Honolulu, Hawaii on 28 August 2008. On the way, they gave valuable water supplies to Ocean rower Roz Savage, also on an environmental awareness voyage.[4][5][6]

The construction of the JUNK Raft began in April 2008 and was finished in May that year. The huge undertaking of constructing this seaworthy raft was aided by volunteers from the educational environmental programs of: Bell Elementary, Green Ambassadors, Muse Elementary, Santa Monica High School, and Westbridge School for Girls. The volunteers lent a hand by cleaning bottles, fastening bottle caps, and stuffing them into the recycled fisherman's net pontoon forms.[7]

See also[edit]

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