Algalita Marine Research Blog

North Atlantic Gyre: Sea Blog 01

Posted by: Algalita Admin

Posted on January 11, 2010

Three days into our expedition. Blue skies, light winds, and relatively calm seas. We’re motoring along at 2 knots, painstakingly slow for a sailor, but perfect speed for collecting surface samples of plastic pollution. So far we’ve collected five – every one contained plastic fragments, film, line, and pre-production pellets. Small quantities, and small particles, but present nonetheless.

We left the St. Thomas yacht harbor on Friday afternoon, after several days of prepping, stowing, running errands, and squeezing in last emails while the rest of the crew arrived- nine total. Besides Marcus and me, there is Ivan Martinetti from BlueTurtle our title sponsor; Jon Howard- “JT” from Ecousable also sponsors of JUNKraft and JUNKride; Leslie Moyer, an activist and supporter from San Francisco; Stiv Wilson, CEO and editor of Wend Magazine and a phenomenal chef; Steve Amato-Salvatierra, the Sea Dragon’s intern, fresh out of high school and sailing around the world before college; and our skipper and first mate from the UK- Clive Crosby and John Wright, both exceptional sailors and exceptionally patient men.

Already, the busy yacht harbor bustling with tourists and horizon-blocking cruise liners seems far away – our only view now is 360 degrees of Caribbean blue.

After the first evenings wave of seasickness bouts – from mild nausea to hanging over the side of the boat – we’re now settling into a routine: sleep, cook, trawl, eat, clean, trawl, sleep, trawl, scan horizon for debris, trawl. Our goal is to collect at least 25 samples by the time we reach Bermuda in 8 days, and another 25 as we continue on, crossing the Atlantic to the Azores.

We pulled up trawl #1 on Saturday morning, as an eager crew clustered around the manta trawl, flip and digital cameras in hand. “Did you find anything?” asked Jon, always ready to film. After thoroughly rinsing and tossing a few handfuls of Sargassum (link to wiki/other description of Sargassum) we found a few tablespoons of planktonic organisms flecked with small plastic particles.

What at first appears a scant amount compared to our Pacific trawls is still reason to reflect: in this vast ocean, several hundred miles from the predicted accumulation zone, using a relatively tiny device – we’re finding evidence of plastic. This short clip shows how we conduct our sampling.

Other notable trawl findings: a small, translucent jelly with a chip of blue plastic in its body – an example of organisms interacting with debris; a large sheet of plastic packaging, a small piece of plastic film, two fishing floats, one plastic crate, and a partridge in a…

In four days, we hope to reach the center of the Sargasso Sea, where the plastic accumulation zone is predicted to be. Meantime, spirits are high, crew is fueled by our mission, and were constantly reminded of the tremendous support it took to get here.

Read more about this voyage on the 5Gyres Blog:

Date Posted: January 12, 2010 @ 4:46 am Comments (0) | Comment Shortcut

Captain Moore Gains Media Coverage while Lecturing on the East Coast

Posted by: Bonnie

Captain Moore spoke on Maine’s Public Radio this week after being on Colbert Nation Tuesday 1/6/10 and presenting at the MERI Ocean Environment Lecture Series in Maine on 1/8/10.

The Captain has a full dance card while traveling up and down the east coast lecturing. He will be at it again on 1/11 at the Beacon Academy Lecture Series. On January 12th, he will present at the Marine Science Center at Northeastern University Nahant, Massachusetts. Last, but not least, the Captain will be at UNCWilmington presenting in the Lumina Theatre, Student Fisher Center on the university campus. A scientific poster session will pregame his lecture. All are free and open to the public so go and find yourself a seat!

If you can’t make it, you could go to and learn more about this issue. It’s Algalita and Marcus Erikson’s latest initiative. It’s loaded with info and is a very cool site. Marcus and Anna – you rock!

Date Posted: January 10, 2010 @ 3:31 pm Comments (1) | Show Comments(1)

Captain Moore Entertains While Schools Colbert on Plastic Pollution

Posted by: Bonnie

Captain Charlie Moore defended our oceans on Comedy Central and won. Great job Charlie. Thank you Stephen Colbert for letting Charlie loose!

The Colbert Report Mon – Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Charles Moore
Colbert Report Full Episodes Political Humor Economy

Date Posted: @ 2:19 pm Comments (1) | Show Comments(1)

Algalita Marine Research Foundation Joins 5 Gyres Triumvirate To Study Global Plastic Marine Pollution Via Atlantic Expeditions

Posted by: Algalita Admin

LONG BEACH, CA –  January 7, 2010.   A group of marine scientists propose the world’s oceans are filling with plastic.  Today they will set sail from the US Virgin Islands to prove their hypothesis with the “5 Gyres Project.” This collaborative effort between Algalita Marine Research Foundation (AMRF), Livable Legacy and Pangaea Explorations marks the first global study of plastic marine pollution which will expand on AMRF’s groundbreaking research in the North Pacific Gyre where current and wind patterns circulate untold volumes of plastic particles.
“Plastic pollution is a global issue”, says AMRF’s Founder and plastic marine debris expert, Captain Charles Moore.  “We’ve seen the so-called garbage patch of plastic accumulating in the North Pacific Gyre, but there are four other gyres worldwide, each with its own patch and we don’t know yet what we will find in them.”
The first expedition will cross the Sargasso Sea between the West Indies and the Azores where plastic debris is accumulating.  The crew will make port in Bermuda giving public lectures, meeting the American Ambassador to Bermuda and picking up new crew members.  The second expedition will cross the South Atlantic Gyre from Rio De Janeiro to Cape Town, South Africa in August 2010. To date,  little research in this field has been conducted in the southern hemisphere.   The ultimate goal of these voyages is to gather a global snapshot of plastic marine pollution by 2011.
From these two research expeditions, together with sampling conducted via research equipment on loan to volunteer sailors on other oceanic journeys, 5 Gyres will gather international data on plastic marine pollution, as well as collecting surface samples and foraging fish for evidence of plastic ingestion.  Directing the research and outreach for the Project, husband-wife team, Marcus Eriksen and Anna Cummins will oversee both expeditions.
For additional information about 5 Gyres, visit
Project Director:  Anna Cummins
Research Coordinator:  Marcus Eriksen, PhD
For additional information about Algalita Marine Research Foundation, Captain Charles Moore, and ORV Alguita’s 009 North Pacific Subtropical Gyre expedition,or to learn more about our mission, outreach programs, and research projects, please visit or call 562.598.4889.

Date Posted: January 7, 2010 @ 6:20 pm Comments (0) | Comment Shortcut

Leave a Reply

What is 9 + 7 ?
Please leave these two fields as-is:
IMPORTANT! To be able to proceed, you need to solve the following simple math (so we know that you are a human) :-)

Capt. Charles Moore guest on the Colbert Report 1/6/10

Posted by: Algalita Admin

Charles Moore talks about the garbage patch that’s turning the Pacific Ocean into a plastic wasteland.

Watch the show online

Date Posted: January 6, 2010 @ 7:04 pm Comments (0) | Comment Shortcut

Leave a Reply

What is 8 + 12 ?
Please leave these two fields as-is:
IMPORTANT! To be able to proceed, you need to solve the following simple math (so we know that you are a human) :-)