“If you imagine anyone with means—whether it be a boat, willing hands or monetary resources—viewing ocean trash as an obligation to act, citizens of all stripes could accomplish a lot to rid our oceans of this scourge.“ —Sven Lindblad, CEO & Founder
We like to say every day is Earth Day at Lindblad Expeditions—helping to protect and preserve the places where we explore is an integral part of our mission. And as a ship-based expedition company caring for the world’s oceans, coastlines, and coastal communities holds particular importance. Our CEO Sven Lindblad, who among other advocacies is a founding Ocean Elder and on the Board of Advisors for Pristine Seas, is deeply committed to the cause, whether he’s on a ship or off duty. So, when he recently came across an enormous mass of fishing net and plastic trash while vacationing in Hawaii with his fiancé Kristin Hettermann, ignoring it was not even an option.
The couple was exploring the coastline of Lānaʻi by boat when they spotted something washed up on the remote volcanic tidepools near a place called Nanahoa, known as ‘Three Stone’ for its three large rock formations. After snorkeling over and climbing ashore both Sven and Kristin were shocked at what they found—a massive jumble of fishing and cargo nets, buoys, and other plastic trash so dense it would barely even budge. They estimated it to be about 20-30 feet long and 1500-2000 pounds. Clearly they weren’t going to be able to remove it so they returned to their boat and continued circumnavigating the island. But they couldn’t get the image of the trash out of their heads.
“As inspired ocean conservationists, Sven and I are constantly exploring the world’s ocean, raising awareness for its challenges, encouraging behavior change, and supporting organizations doing important ocean conservation work,” said Kristin who is the founder of OCEANSCAPES. “It just didn’t seem right to leave it there when we had the capacity and resources to do something about it.”
The next day they returned with reinforcements—Jason Allen, captain of the Fish N Chips, and local free diver Skylar Fisher—and together the team tackled the daunting task. Four hours later—after several attempts to attach the mass to the boat and drag it off the ledge into the water, followed by a slow ride hauling it behind them—they successfully towed it to the Manele Small Boat Harbor.
Sven and Kristin chose to undertake the challenge in hopes that their efforts would inspire others to do their part in cleaning up our ocean. Rather than just disposing of the haul, Sven reached out to several local organizations to see if they might be interested in turning the recovered trash into some kind of public awareness project. “It’s a really interesting teaching device, to show that the ocean is clearly full of plastic and it’s a real problem. We’ve got to get it out of the ocean and we’ve got to stop putting it into the ocean,” says Sven.
Kristin echoed that sentiment: “Every little bit of trash that is removed from the ocean system helps as we hopefully move toward a more sustainable future for our planet.” Lindblad is proud to be part of the solution: last summer we completed a comprehensive single-use plastic elimination program across our fleet—our ships are now 100% free of single-use plastic bottles, cups, straws, and stirrers. And we’re working to further eliminate and reduce all plastic packaging aboard by partnering with our suppliers to seek out alternative options.
Cleaning up the billions of items of plastic waste floating in our oceans can seem impossible but every small step makes a difference. Kristin shared a few ways we can all help to support our seas:
- Say no to single-use plastics and any plastic packaging as much as you can. Opt for reusable water bottles, reusable straws, and carry a set of bamboo flatware in your bag.
- Be an influence on your favorite local restaurants, coffee shops, and hotels. Refuse plastic carry-out and let the store manager know your eco-friendly preferences and why.
- Clean up. When you see plastic trash, take a minute to pick it up and dispose of it, then share your stories on social media to inspire others.
- Support companies working with materials made from marine debris who turn trash into useable treasures.
- Support the ban of single-use plastics and plastic packaging both locally and nationally by calling, emailing or tweeting your elected officials.