Research and Analysis
2014 Pacific Gyre Voyage
In July, our crew heads to one of the most polluted areas of the world. This place, 1,000 miles away from land, redefined Algalita’s mission and ignited a fire to study the plastic plague destroying our oceans. This is the North Pacific Gyre, home of the swirling vortex of plastic trash. Our founder Captain Charles Moore discovered the “plastic soup” in 1997.
Our research team, headed by Captain Moore once again, will journey to the center of the widely known “Great Pacific Garbage Patch.” There, we’ll conduct an intensive 30-day exploration of how plastic pollution has affected the marine environment. The persistence and increasing quantity of plastic debris has created new habitats—essentially “plastic reefs” that sea creatures have made their homes.
How have these artificial ecosystems changed the Gyre since our first expedition 15 years ago? What have they done to the various species in the area? And what consequences do “plastic reefs” have on human health? Our scientists will look for answers. Through analysis of water, fish and invertebrate samples, we’ll work to find conclusive data.
Specifically, we’ll take plastic debris samples from the same stations we sampled in 1999, 2008 and 2009. The ultimate goal is to evaluate long-term trends and changes in the Gyre by merging the data from previous expeditions with new data.
For 30 days, our crew will live aboard the Oceanographic Research Vessel, Alguita, in order to get an extended, close-up view of the plastic debris in this famous accumulation zone.
And while our researchers are deep in investigation, we’ll allow thousands of students from around the world to connect virtually with our team. Through Algalita’s Ship-2-Shore Program, students can communicate with our crews in real time using satellite communication systems.
Alguita undergoing refit in preparation for voyage
2014 Voyage Press Information
1/7/2014 - Captain Charles Moore, the man who discovered the swirling vortex of plastic trash widely known as the “Great Pacific Garbage Patch,” will once again sail to one of the most polluted areas of the world—the North Pacific Central Gyre.
Why study plastic pollution?
Contamination of the world's oceans by plastic pollution is a growing problem. Plastics, like diamonds, are forever! Because plastics do NOT biodegrade, no naturally occurring organisms can break these polymers down. Instead, plastic goes through a process called photodegradation, where sunlight breaks down plastic into smaller and smaller pieces. Most plastic floats near the sea surface where it is often mistaken for food by birds and fishes. When plastic debris meets the sea its persistence wreak untold havoc in the ecosystems. Other marine debris can injure coral reefs and bottom dwelling species and entangle or drown ocean wildlife. Some species ingest plastic, potentially causing choking or starvation.
Frequently Asked Questions
Plastic Pollution and the North Pacific Subtropical Gyre
Find the answers to some of the most common questions about plastic pollution and the North Pacific Subtropical Gyre. Read our FAQs page >>.
Websites — Videos — Blogs — Books — Scientific Papers
Websites - Government Agencies and Publications
UNEP - United Nations Environment Programme
UNEP Year Book 2011 - Plastic Debris in the Ocean
GESAMP - Microplastic Report
SCCWRP - Southern California Coastal Water Research Project
NOAA - National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
My Plastic-free Life - Chronicles the daily adventures of a woman learning how to rid everday life of plastic.
Boogie Green - Research and writings by Dr. Sarah "Steve" Mosko about the issues of pollutants of the Plastic Age