A pair of Australian adventurers have been kayaking along the west coast to raise money and awareness about ocean debris.
Lucy Graham, a community organizer, and Mathilde Gordon, a field officer in land management and conservation, are both passionate about the environment and the outdoors. They met while attending university together in Australia and have given numerous talks on ocean pollution together.
Last year, the two decided to go on the kayaking trip, but wanted to do it for the cause they were both so passionate about. They fund-raised and secured sponsors who believed in the work they were doing, and in May, flew to Alaska where they began their journey. The pair set off from Glacier Bay on May 8 and have paddled their way south along the coast for the past 42 days before arriving at Prince Rupert’s break water dock on June 16.
Along the way, the pair have been GPS-tagging any garbage they find floating and uploading it to a website chronicling their journey. They have seen and logged hundreds of items ranging from plastic sports drink bottles to fishing lines, ghost nets and buoys. They have also participated in beach cleanups and given talks in the towns where they’ve stayed along the way.
They will continue their journey along the coast until they reach Vancouver Island at the end of the summer.
The pair hopes the data they gather can be used to help people understand the way their consumption contributes to the problem of ocean pollution and the impact it has on the coastline ecosystem. In addition to all the rubbish they have logged, Graham said they have tracked the wildlife they have seen. This includes 12 grizzly bears, 50 humpback whale breaches and dozens of bald eagles, all of whom are impacted in some way by items floating off the water.
“We’re just trying to start a conversation about it,” said Gordon, “I think a lot of people think it’s not their problem, but everyone contributes to it in some way.”
Gordon and Graham are also raising money that will go to organizations that run beach cleanups. So far they have raised $14,000 out of a $20,000 goal.
In addition to gathering data and raising awareness, both women said they also want to be an example to other young women by going on adventures and taking action about issues they are passionate about.
“People say we’re crazy or brave, but I wish it was more normal for people to do what we’re doing,” said Graham. “We’re passionate about what we do, we want to make a difference and so we’re doing it.”
To follow Graham and Gordon on their journey visit: https://passageadventures.org/