Research and Analysis
2014 Pacific Gyre Voyage
Captain Charles Moore (Algalita founder), together with the Algalita Marine Research Institute, will embark on a research expedition to the North Central Pacific Gyre in July 2014. This voyage commemorates the 15th Anniversary of our first expedition.
Replicating sampling conducted at our original eleven stations in 1999, 2008 and 2009, the ultimate goal is to evaluate long-term trends and changes in the Gyre by merging data collected over the past 15 years with new 2014 data.
For thirty days, the research crew aboard the Ocean Research Vessel, Alguita, will live amongst debris in this accumulation zone, also collecting relevant data regarding the creatures that make this plastic-polluted part of the Pacific Ocean their home. The persistence and quantity of plastic debris in the world's ocean gyres has resulted in the creation of new habitats, essentially becoming mid-ocean plastic “reefs”.
We will journey to the center of one of these new plastic worlds in the North Pacific Gyre to observe and document this artificial eco-system. Through analysis of water, fish and invertebrate samples, we will endeavor to determine the extent to which this habitat mimics a new inherently toxic coastline.
The expedition will once again employ our Ship 2 Shore blog program while at sea, communicating with students and engaging the educational community.
Alguita undergoing refit in preparation for voyage
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