Charles J. Moore
Charles J. Moore is an internationally recognized expert on marine plastic pollution and is the Research Director at Algalita Marine Research and Education, a nonprofit organization working to prevent ocean plastic pollution through research and education. Moore is known for his work in the Eastern North Pacific Gyre, commonly called the 'Great Pacific Garbage Patch', an area of the Pacific Ocean strewn with floating plastic debris, most of it smaller than a grain of rice. In collaboration with researchers at the Southern California Coastal Water Research Project, he developed the first protocols for monitoring marine plastic debris which are now used worldwide by oceanographic researchers and citizen scientists. As Algalita’s Research Director, Captain Moore and his team have logged 15 voyages to the Garbage Patch since 1999.
Great Pacific Garbage Patch
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.”
His 1999 study showed that there was six times more plastic in this part of the ocean than the zooplankton that feeds ocean life. 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 and Education
Moore is the founder of the Algalita Marine Research and Education in Long Beach, California, and currently serves as their Research Director.
Since 1999, Algalita has been the leading research organization focused on plastic pollution and its impacts on marine life and ecosystems. The organization was the first to spearhead the research methodology for collecting and analyzing micro/macroplastic samples from the ocean.
Algalita's hosts the Plastic Ocean Pollution Solutions (POPS) Youth Summit in Southern California each year. They also provide free educational resources for teachers, students, and the general public.
In 2008 the group 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 Algalita, 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.
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.
- Donovan Hohn (June 22, 2008), "Sea of Trash", New York Times
- TED (2009) Charles Moore, Oceanographer
- Charles Moore (Feb 2009), "Capt. Charles Moore on the seas of plastic" TED: Ideas worth spreading
- "A raft made of junk crosses Pacific in 3 months". USA Today. 2008-08-28. Archived from the original on 2009-09-30. Retrieved 2009-09-30.
- "Raft made of junk bottles crosses Pacific". msnbc. 2008-08-28. Archived from the original on 2009-09-30. Retrieved 2009-09-30.
- "Mid-ocean dinner date saves rower". BBC News. 2008-08-20. Archived from the original on 2009-09-30. Retrieved 2009-09-30.
- "Students Helping To Build Junk". Blogspot. April 2008. Archived from the original on 2010-04-14. Retrieved 2010-04-14.
- Algalita Marine Research and Education
- Trashed: Across the Pacific Ocean, plastics, plastics, everywhere
- The Great Pacific Garbage Patch – Good Morning America, on YouTube -- includes interview with Charles Moore: the plastic retrieved in samples has doubled in density from 2003 to 2008
- JUNK raft blog
- Charles J. Moore at TED