Seacaptain, founder of the Algalita Marine research Institute and ‘discoverer’ of the Plastic Soup
A yachting competition across the Pacific led veteran seafarer Charles Moore to discover what some have since deemed the world‘s largest "landfill" -- actually a huge water-bound swath of floating plastic garbage the size of two Texases. Trapped in an enormous slow whirlpool called the Pacific Gyre, a mostly stagnant, plankton-rich seascape spun of massive competing air currents, this Great Pacific Garbage Patch in some places outweighs even the surface waters’ biomass six-to-one.
Moore said after his return voyage, "There were shampoo caps and soap bottles and plastic bags and fishing floats as far as I could see. Here I was in the middle of the ocean, and there was nowhere I could go to avoid the plastic." Charles Moore is founder of the Algalita Marine Research Foundation. He captains the foundation’s research vessel, the Alguita, documenting the great expanses of plastic waste that now litter our oceans.
Since his discovery, Moore has been analyzing the giant litter patch and its disastrous effects on ocean life. Through the Algalita Marine Research Foundation, he hopes to raise awareness about the problem and find ways to restrict its growth. He’s now leading several expeditions to sample plastic fragments across thousands of miles of the Pacific.
Plastic Soup Foundation
Founder of the 5gyres Institute
Marcus Eriksen is the Research Director and co-founder of the 5 Gyres Institute. He studies the global distribution and ecological impacts of plastic marine pollution, which has included expeditions sailing through all 5 subtropical gyres, Bay of Bengal, Southern Ocean and inland lakes and rivers, recently publishing the first global estimate of all plastic of all sizes floating in the world’s oceans, totaling 270,000 metric tons from 5.25 trillion particles. In 2013 he and colleagues published the discovery of microbeads in the Great Lakes, which became the cornerstone for a US-based campaign to eliminate plastic microbeads from cosmetics, resulting in the Microbead-Free Waters Act, which became US federal law in 2015.
In 2000 he traveled to Midway Atoll, finding hundreds of Laysan Albatross with plastic pouring out of their stomachs, and that experience narrowed his focus to plastics. He received his Ph.D. in Science Education from University of Southern California in 2003, months before embarking on a 2000-mile, 5-month journey down the Mississippi River on a homemade raft of plastic bottles to bring attention to this issue. Again in 2008, he rafted across the Pacific Ocean from California to Hawaii on JUNK, floating on 15,000 plastic bottles and a Cessina airplane fuselage as a cabin (junkraft.com). The journey, 2,600 miles in 88 days, brought attention to the work of the 5 Gyres Institute, the organization he co-founded with his wife Anna Cummins. In 2010 Marcus is chosen to be National Fellow of the Explorers Club.