Community Commentary

For the benefit of the oceans

“Mother, Mother Ocean, I have heard you call…” The famous rock ‘n’ roll crooner Jimmy Buffett sang a sweet ballad about his life as a modern-day pirate, a sailor, and lover of the ocean. 

Reminds me of another sailor — Captain Charles Moore, founder of Algalita Marine Research Institute, who one might call the “Savior of the Seas.”

Have you read his book, “Plastic Ocean,” seen his video “Synthetic Sea”? The just released Cannes award-winning film “Trashed” featuring Jeremy Irons is coming soon to a theater near you! Capt. Moore is a brilliant author, citizen scientist, advocate for the oceans, an incredible organic gardener, and a modern-day hero.

From way back in the mid-90s, sailing his 50-foot catamaran, the ORV Alguita out of Long Beach, Calif., Capt. Moore has almost single-handedly taken on the plastic pollution epidemic, focusing on the North Pacific Sub-Tropical Gyre, a huge area 600 miles off the coast of Hawaii where a convergence zone exists collecting every piece of garbage that ever moved with the wind and the water. The flotsam and jetsam of our throwaway culture.

A “gyre” (rhymes with tire) is an oceanographic term for swirling masses of seawater created by the currents. There are five major gyres around the globe. Maybe you’ve seen the photos of turtles and seals ingesting plastic garbage, or trapped in plastic bags and nets; dead albatross chicks with stomachs full of garbage? Most of these gruesome pictures are from Algalita’s research.

Where does this stuff originate?

From many sources, but mainly from my doorstep and yours as we constantly consume and waste, relying on recycling to save us from our sins of disposal.

Recycle is the last resort in the famous three “R’s” — Refuse, reuse, recycle. How about “Redesign, resist, rethink, revolt”? My list is growing as I address my addiction, imagining a smarter, healthier way to live and respect the earth.

When was the last time you were offended by cigarette smoke?

Are you old enough to recall the lengthy and very expensive battle against Big Tobacco? It wasn’t that long ago. California was the leader in addressing that epidemic, which still exists. Most of the debris routinely collected from beach clean-ups is cigarette butts (40 percent) that wash down, wash up and are ejected from car windows! It is a similar uphill campaign in which we are involved, addressing plastic pollution, against unlimited funds from the opposition.

Anyone who objects to the fight against excessive plastic packaging and Styrofoam is misinformed, to say the least.

Go to for the latest unbiased data. Science-based education programs for schools, speakers for every group and event are available, all the information you can handle is there, plus an opportunity to join the captain’s campaign to save our precious oceans, the fish and other sea critters, and the future for your children.

Am I one of those naive “green freaks” who doesn’t understand how business gets done while worshipping the earth? Not at all, just a commonsense conservationist who cares about the size and impact of my footprint on this planet.

Last week at the Oceanside Sundown Market commemorating the 3rd annual “Day Without a Bag,” a fifth grader named Jordan was circulating her petition to encourage the City Council to enact a bag ban. And a little child shall lead them, as they say.

Twice now our leaders in “Sacra-demento” have allowed themselves to be influenced by wealthy lobbyists with deceptive claims of death by germs in a reusable bag, lost jobs and taxes. Yet 50 cities in our great state have banned the ubiquitous plastic bag, as well as many countries around the world.

If I owned a plastic bag factory, wouldn’t I simply retool and manufacture something we need, create more jobs and be part of the solution?

“Mother, Mother Ocean…You’ve seen it all. You’ve seen it all.” If that song, and this issue, doesn’t move you, nothing will. The ocean is calling. Aaaarghh!

Celia Kiewit serves on the Board of Directors of the Algalita Marine Research Institute. She can be contacted at