Plastic Ocean: How a Sea Captain's Chance Discovery Launched a Determined Quest to Save the Oceans

Charles Moore, Cassandra Phillips

Avery, 2011

Agent: Sandra Dijkstra

A prominent seafaring environmentalist and researcher shares his shocking discovery of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, and inspires a fundamental rethinking of the Plastic Age.

In the summer of 1997, Charles Moore set sail from Honolulu returning home after competing in a trans-Pacific race. To get to California, he and his crew took a shortcut through the seldom-traversed North Pacific Subtropical Gyre, a vast “oceanic desert” where winds are slack and sailing ships languish. There, Moore realized his catamaran was surrounded by a “plastic soup.”  He had stumbled upon the largest garbage dump on the planet—a spiral nebula where plastic outweighed zooplankton, the ocean’s food base, by a factor of six to one.

In Plastic Ocean, Moore recounts his ominous findings and unveils the secret life and hidden proper ties of plastics. From milk jugs to polymer molecules small enough  to penetrate human skin or be unknowingly inhaled, plastic is now suspected  of contributing to a host of ailments, including  infertility, autism, thyroid  dysfunction, and some cancers. An urgent call to action, Moore’s sobering revelations will be embraced by activists, concerned  parents, and anyone concerned about the deadly impact and implications of this man-made blight.


“Moore’s life is a blend of science and activism, making him the perfect choice for a title that combines high-seas adventure and precision analysis of minute evidence… Moore is relentless in his pursuit of truth and dedication to effecting positive change. He packs a mighty amount of history into this chronicle along with a fascinating record of the many paths he has taken to get the job done. Highly readable, thoughtful, honest, and determined, Plastic Ocean is a book with staying power.”

“In Plastic Ocean, readers join Captain Moore on journeys through history, into science labs and to remote parts of the ocean - revealing information both fascinating and incredibly important. A must read for anyone who likes a good adventure and wants to tackle today's pressing environmental problems.”
Annie Leonard, author and host, The Story of Stuff


"The prodigious waste of plastic resources discovered floating in the ocean by Captain Moore brings into stark focus the urgent need to design all our products for complete recovery and reuse within a biological or technical cycle. Only by doing so will our human family become part of a system that replenishes itself on our robust and fragile planet into the infinite future."
Michael Braungart, author of Cradle to Cradle


“Moore, the grandson of a president of Hancock Oil, is also able to guide the reader through a history of plastic, the chemical process of plastics production, and its indestructibility and threat to our world. He covers some of the same ground as Susan Freinkel's Plastic, but his scientific background takes his investigation deeper.”
Publishers Weekly


“The word ‘hero’ has been applied to Charles Moore so often it has almost replaced his title of Captain. He may have discovered in the middle of the Pacific Ocean a new “continent.” And if that sounds like good news—read on. Definitely, read on.”
Carl Safina, author of A Sea In Flames and The View From Lazy Point


 “ The author is an impassioned, fiercely inquisitive writer, detailing the many unorthodox ways he's managed to get these issues into the news and in peer-reviewed science journals. His account is chilling, but with an underlying message of optimism: If human behaviors change, we can still save the oceans, and ourselves. Fast-paced and electrifying, Moore's story is "gonzo science" at its best.”
Kirkus Review