J. Moore of the Algalita Marine Research Foundation
By Scott Kikiloi
Charles J. Moore of Long Beach California is the founder
of the Algalita
Marine Research Foundation. His Foundation researchers
are currently on the ship Alguita, anchored offshore of
Tern Island, at French Frigate Shoals. This Foundation's
mission is to preserve and restore the marine environment.
His recent research in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands
has led to some disturbing discoveries about plastic rubbish
in the ocean (see feature article: "Plastics,
the Quiet Killer of the Pacific Ocean")
you work with plastics and pollution in the water?
we also restore, we don't just study or seek
to preserve it, we also do restoration work like kelp transplanting,
and coral replenishment. We also do work on minimizing runoff
into the ocean, and modern sewage treatment. We have a whole
bunch of other things that we do besides the plastics with
. But yeah out here in the Pacific we've
been looking mostly at the plastic.
inspired you to get into this line of work?
Surfrider Foundation was one. I helped them set up their
blue water task force. I have a background in chemistry,
so I helped them start the Bluewater Task Force when they
had a chapter in my hometown in Long Beach. Also working
in Mexico with a group called Proesteros that was designed
to stop building on the wetlands in Baja California. I started
doing bacteriological testing from shore, where the surf
then I thought "what about offshore?"
We need to start looking at areas where the surfers can't
get to to see where this stuff is coming from. That's when
I thought about building a boat and starting a foundation.
So what places have you visited so far?
Tasmania, Australia, Fiji, Samoa, Hawai`i, Baja California,
and the islands off Baja California.
long are your work days on the boat?
Oh its twenty-four hours a day on the boat. Sort of depends
if we're in or out, we're always on watch. Four hours on
eight hours off. We work day and night.
heard that you guys went to Waikiki this past week?
Yeah we were lucky enough to be able to take some of the
students of Nainoa Thompson's out to look at how we're doing
our sampling, and show them how the boat performs under
is Hawai`i's ocean doing?
Hawai`i is cleaner than the area north of Hawai`i. It`s
lucky because its not in the center of the gyre, but in
the winter time these plastic particles come down... and
that's when you get hit hardest. In the summer time it's
really pretty clean. But in the wintertime areas like Waimanalo
can have big, big build ups of plastics on the beach.
you thought of any ways of keeping companies accountable
for plastic pollution in the ocean?
I think it's going to take the kids of the next generation
demanding a change. I don't think the current generation
and the current leaders are capable of making those kinds
of demands. We can do some things through government regulations,
but mostly it's going to take the demands of the next generation
for a clean environment to push these companies to change.
So we think it's an education thing. If you don't have a
good education plan no matter what you're doing, you're
really missing the boat.