When’s the last time you went for a dive in Carmel, and instead of the usual marine life, came across hundreds of golf balls? This is what Alex Weber, and her dad, Mike found one day in the spring 2016. Since then, Alex, Mike and their friend, Jack have worked to pick up the golf balls that litter the ocean floor in Carmel. As of September 2018, they had collected 50,000 golf balls, along with a considerable amount of research data. As part of their work, Alex and Jack launched The Plastic Pick-Up as a way to draw attention to the situation. As a result of this work they have appeared in countless new articles and TV reports, magazines including Sports Illustrated, Hakai Magazine, Golf magazine, and spoke at multiple events including World Ocean Day with Jack Johnson and the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Ocean Plastic Pollution Summit.
In addition to speaking at multiple events, Alex partnered with Matthew Savoca at Stanford Univeristy’s Hopkins Marine Station, and with his mentorship, published a paper (Quantifying marine debris associated with coastal golf courses) in the Marine Pollution Bulletin. On The Plastic Pick-Up, Alex explains her decision to publish:
“After the first year of our efforts we discovered that in order for policy change to occur we needed to provide research and scientific literature to prove that there is an environmental impact associated with golf balls in the ocean. We soon realized that this topic had never before been studied in the science community, and decided to spearhead the issue. Under the mentorship of Matthew Savoca a postdoctoral researcher at Hopkins Marine Station of Stanford University, we constructed the first ever scientific knowledge of golf balls in the marine and aquatic environments. This research is intended to help develop and direct mitigation procedures for this region and other coastal and riverside golf courses.”
Their work is far from done – and The Plastic Pick-Up continues to spend countless hours in the water, collecting golf balls and data along the way. To learn more about Alex, Mike, Jack and the work they have done check out the news section on The Plastic Pick-Up’s website.