It was one of my favorite stories in some time and now budding marine biologists Alex Weber and Jack Johnston get the full SI-style profile treatment from Alan Shipnuck, complete with Robert Beck photos and a nine-minute film.
Shipnuck addresses many questions about the kids cleaning up the cove off Pebble Beach Golf Links, including the toughness required to dive and dig up the golf balls.
When Alex first came upon the balls during a recreational dive with her father in September 2015, she had no idea these man-made pearls would consume her life. "There wasn't this big master plan," she says. "I just knew they didn't belong in the ocean, and I wanted to get them out." In the ensuing dives her father was a constant—Mike owns a chicken ranch that produces 150 million cage-free, organic and kosher eggs a year—but while various friends of Alex's tagged along once or twice, only Jack kept coming back. It is grueling work that begins with hauling the kayaks down the steep sand hill at Carmel Beach, followed by the long paddle across the bay through strong winds and tides, and then hours of diving in frigid water that always leaves their lips blue, despite thick wet suits, hoods, gloves and booties. After all that, they have to schlep hundreds of balls and their gear back up the hill to their cars. The balls are stored in the Webers' garage, and some stink—a sulfuric, chemical smell that is a hint of the toxins they may be releasing into the sea. As the collection became more numerous (and malodorous), Alex and Jack were galvanized to take the fight public. "It became pretty obvious this issue was bigger than us, and we had to go to people who could help us change things," Jack says.
I gladly made a donation to their GoFund me page and notice it still could use some help to their $10,000 goal as they get ready to further their education!
The film (golf.com embed code only allows this size):