A third generation resident of Long Beach, California, Captain Charles Moore grew up in and on the Pacific Ocean. His father was an industrial chemist and avid sailor who took young Charles and his siblings to remote Guadalupe Island in the Caribbean and many times to the family’s second home in Hawaii. He founded the Algalita Marine Research Institute in 1994 “to protect and restore the marine environment.” Captain Moore found his calling in 1997 on his return voyage after the Transpac yacht race, when he changed course from the usual sea route from Hawaii and saw an unrecognizable Pacific Ocean. “Every time I came on deck to survey the horizon, I saw a soap bottle, bottle cap or a shard of plastic waste bobbing by. Here I was in the middle of the ocean and there was nowhere I could go to avoid the plastic.” Through Algalita Research Institute (now Algalita Marine Research and Education), he began to monitor conditions in what has became known as the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, a convergence zone of plastic pollution within the North Pacific Central Gyre. 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. Since then, Captain Moore has become a world-renowned expert on the issue, dedicating most of his time and resources to understanding the crisis and seeking to inspire solutions. As Algalita’s Research Director, Captain Moore and his team have logged 15 voyages to the Garbage Patch since 1999.
Moore’s entrepreneurial brand of environmentalism has brought worldwide attention to the issue of marine plastic pollution, and work has inspired dozens of activist groups and civic movements to reduce plastic waste at its source. In his blunt, rousing style, he speaks to audiences across the globe, explaining how plastic debris should be seen as the No. 1 threat to the planet. Moore won the 2014 Peter Benchley Ocean Awards “Hero of the Seas” award, among many others, and has been featured in major media forums including National Public Radio, Rolling Stone, The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, NBC, CBS, CNN, “The Late Show with David Letterman, The Colbert Report, ABC’s “Nightline” and “Good Morning America,” and The Wall Street Journal. His work has been published in many scientific journals and magazines, including Marine Pollution Bulletin and Philosophical Transactions of The Royal Society. His book, Plastic Ocean, was published in October 2011 and has been translated into Japanese and Italian with other languages in the works. In June 2012, Thompson Rivers University in Kamloops, Canada, bestowed on Captain Moore a well-earned Doctor of Laws Honoris Causa.