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Environmentalists raising awareness on oceanic problems

While most kids are doing homework, watching TV or hanging out with friends, juniors Alex Weber and Jack Johnston are freediving for thousands of golf balls on Carmel’s ocean floor.

“People protect what they love,” says Denise Klein, Weber’s mom. “Hopefully, Carmel High students who have grown up in these waters will continue to discover ways to keep our shores and sea floor free of plastic.”

Weber and Johnston uploaded a video in early October to raise awareness of thousands of golf balls polluting Carmel Bay just off Pebble Beach’s most famous course.

“It started summer before freshman year,” Weber recalls. “Once we saw how many golf balls were down there, it hit us that this was a huge environmental problem.”

Since discovering the golf balls, Weber and Johnston have removed over 4,000 golf balls from the ocean floor. That is more than 72 square feet of sea floor littered with plastic.

“We need people to be aware of what we are doing to the environment,” Weber says. “It is such an obvious thing, but nobody would have thought about it. The golf course has been there for over a hundred years and they have not thought about it once.”

On top of raising awareness for this excessive pollution, the two friends hope their video will inspire people to help fund their education at the Island School in the Bahamas, a school that specializes in environmental education.

“We want more knowledge about world issues,” Johnston says, “so we can conquer more things, either than just golf balls, so we can actually have an effect on the world, and the Island School will educate us on how to do this.”

The Island School gives high school students a unique, semester-long experience in the Bahamas. Classes revolve around nature, sustainability and marine biology, all topics in which Johnston and Weber both hope to become more familiar.

“Right now we have a bunch of questions,” Weber mentions. “We want to come back from the Island School with answers on how to fix issues. Going there will broaden our horizon on what we can do.”

In an attempt to raise money to pay for their education, they started a GoFundMe page that has raised over $6,000. In addition to that support, a variety of local organizations have partnered with the pair.

“The Monterey Bay Aquarium is very much involved as is [The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration,]” Johnston says. “They are providing us with research divers to see how big of an issue this really is.”

-Preston Miglaw

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