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.

Why you should listen

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."

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.

What others say

“His findings have gone a long way toward educating the science community, if not yet the public, on the magnitude of marine pollution and its impact on life -- all life.” — Thomas Kostigen, Discover Magazine

Charles Moore’s TED talks

Charles Moore on the TED Blog

Chris Jordan follows the plastic to Midway Atoll

September 14, 2009

Chris Jordan (watch his TEDTalk) is on Midway Atoll with a team of artists to document a shocking result of our love of plastic: thousands of albatrosses who mistake floating plastic trash for food — and are starving to death. Midway is near the apex of the Pacific Garbage Patch (watch Capt. Charles Moore’s TEDTalk […]

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Quotes from Charles Moore

Only we humans make waste that nature can’t digest.
Charles Moore
TED2009 • 849K views Feb 2009
Informative, Jaw-dropping
All the king’s horses and all the king’s men will never gather up all the plastic and put the ocean back together again.
Charles Moore
TED2009 • 849K views Feb 2009
Informative, Jaw-dropping