Seafaring Researcher Monitors an Invisible Plastic “Island”



BLUE HILL — Less than 20 years ago, Charles Moore was a cabinetmaker with a business that specialized in refinishing furniture damaged in transit.

Somewhere in the Pacific Ocean, Captain Charles Moore displays some plastic debris recovered during a recent cruise of his sailing catamaran Alguita. He chose to build a multihull research vessel because it provides a stable working platform. — MARINE ENVIRONMENTAL RESEARCH INSTITUTE
Somewhere in the Pacific Ocean, Captain Charles Moore displays some plastic debris recovered during a recent cruise of his sailing catamaran Alguita. He chose to build a multihull research vessel because it provides a stable working platform. — MARINE ENVIRONMENTAL RESEARCH INSTITUTE

 

Today, many researchers credit the Southern Californian with the discovery of the massive “island” of plastic debris that pollutes the waters of the Pacific Ocean.

How he came to make that find speaks volumes about how the world around us has changed.

A third-generation resident of Long Beach, Moore said he grew up on the shores of Alamedos Bay, and in its water.

“I was basically a marine mammal for part of my life,” Moore said. “I was in the water as much as the average seal and the degradation of the marine environment was something that was perceptible to me.”

The stomach of this albatross chick recovered by Captain Charles Moore in the Pacific Ocean is filled with the kind of plastic debris Moore estimates kills millions of seabirds annually. — MARINE ENVIRONMENTAL RESEARCH INSTITUTE
The stomach of this albatross chick recovered by Captain Charles Moore in the Pacific Ocean is filled with the kind of plastic debris Moore estimates kills millions of seabirds annually. — MARINE ENVIRONMENTAL RESEARCH INSTITUTE

Moore remembered digging clams from the flats in front of the house where he grew up, then roasting them for a picnic around a fire built right on the mud, and learning to swim in a nearby tidal lagoon. Today, pollution makes it impossible to contemplate eating clams dug from those once pristine waters, and water quality in the lagoon is dreadful.

“No one would ever dream of teaching swimming there today,” he said during an interview last week at the Marine Environmental Research Institute (MERI). Moore was in Blue Hill for the opening of MERI’s 20th anniversary Ocean Environment Lecture Series.

For more maritime news, pick up a copy of The Ellsworth American.

 

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