Three years ago, 16-year-old Alex Weber was diving with her father, Mike Weber, when she spied something strange in the waters off Pebble Beach, California: golf balls. Tons of the hard plastic orbs cluttered the ocean floor. “There were so many, I couldn’t see the sand,” Alex recalls. “It really shocked me.”
“Back then, I didn’t know much about the problem of plastic in the ocean,” says Alex. “But I did know that those balls didn’t belong there.” Alex, her dad, and some family friends started a project to pick up the little spheres. On a typical dive, the group would gather at least 500 balls, which they’d load onto kayaks, tow to shore, and then haul to Alex’s house. She was troubled, though, by the fact that every time they dove, the seafloor they’d cleared on their previous visit was again blanketed with balls.
“The balls didn’t stop coming,” says Alex. That’s because numerous golf courses line that area of California’s coast (see Marine Sanctuary at Risk). Not only were decades’ worth of golf balls strewn on the ocean floor, but golfers sent more of them plopping into the ocean every day. Alex wondered why someone didn’t fix this problem. And then she realized she could be the someone.