Algalita History

Captain Charles Moore founded Algalita Marine Research Institute (AMRI) in 1994 to focus on the “coastal ocean", specifically on the restoration of disappearing giant kelp forests and the improvement of water quality through the preservation and re-construction of wetlands along the California coast.

In 1997, his focus dramatically changed. While returning to California from Hawaii aboard his 50-foot catamaran, the Alguita, he chose to chart a course through the North Pacific Subtropical Gyre. This area of the Pacific is a circulating rotation of ocean currents and is normally avoided by sailors due to its light winds.

In the eastern portion of the Gyre he encountered a substantial amount of trash, mostly plastic, scattered across the area. Now commonly referred to as the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, it is a vast plastic soup (from the surface down through the water column) containing everything from large abandoned fishing nets (ghost nets) to plastic bottles, bottle caps, toothbrushes, containers, boxes, to miniscule particles of plastic that have either been reduced from larger pieces by wave action or sunlight (photodegradation).

Since 1997, Captain Moore has made numerous research voyages to the Gyre aboard the ORV Alguita, resulting in a body of authoritative research publications and data and educational programs. We are confident our research will lead the way to a new era of consciousness regarding the issue of plastic marine pollution. Part of our current research is focusing on a better understanding of the magnitude of our plastic “footprint”, including the effects of fish ingestion of plastic on human health.

Research expeditions to date >>