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Plastic pollution in the world's oceans has become a global environmental crisis. Many people have seen images that seem to capture it, such as beaches carpeted with plastic trash or a seahorse gripping a cotton swab with its tail.
As a scientist researching marine plastic pollution, I thought I had seen a lot. Then, early in 2017, I heard from Alex Weber, a junior at Carmel High School in California.
Alex - Work - Eye - Schoolers - Time
Alex emailed me after reading my scientific work, which caught my eye, since very few high schoolers spend their time reading scientific articles. She was looking for guidance on an unusual environmental problem. While snorkeling in the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary near the town of Carmel-by-the-Sea, Alex and her friend Jack Johnston had repeatedly come across large numbers of golf balls on the ocean floor.
As environmentally conscious teens, they started removing golf balls from the water, one by one. By the time Alex contacted me, they had retrieved over 10,000 golf balls – more than half a ton.
Golf - Balls - Eyesores - Golfers - Beachgoers
Golf balls sink, so they don't become eyesores for future golfers and beachgoers. As a result, this issue had gone largely unnoticed. But Alex had stumbled across something big: a point source of marine debris – one that comes from a single, identifiable place – polluting federally protected waters. Our newly published study details the scope of this unexpected marine pollutant and some ways in which it could affect marine life.
Many popular golf courses dot the central California coast and use the ocean as a hazard or an out-of-bounds. The most famous course, Pebble Beach Golf Links, is site of the 2019 U.S. Open Championship.
Alex - Solution - Problem - Way - Golf
Alex wanted to create a lasting solution to this problem. I told her that the way to do it was to meticulously plan and systematically record all future golf ball...
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