As fishing boats set out to sea from Plymouth Sound, eight-year-old Ella tells Phillippe Cousteau Jnr about her efforts to reduce the amount of litter on her favourite beaches. Having been shocked by the quantity of plastic pollution in Devon, she has been working to encourage local families and businesses to switch from single-use to resuables. She shows the TV presenter and marine conservationist the ‘keep it cool’ cloth bag she designed with Salcombe Church of England Primary School’s eco-team, her swimsuit that’s made of 100% recycled plastic bottles, and biodegradable pasta drinks straws – all creative solutions to counteract throwaway consumerism and encourage a ‘plastic-clever’ mindset. At the slipway, Ella demonstrates the art of stand-up paddleboarding while removing litter from the sea. Armed with litter-pickers, she and Philippe paddle by the harbour wall, collecting polystyrene, crisp packets, sweet wrappers and plastic tubing they find on the surface. The key, she says, is to try not to fall off and Philippe seems suitably impressed by her efforts.
For a week last summer, Philippe visited Plymouth to meet and film some British youngsters pioneering their own marine conservation projects, and to train teachers how to integrate ocean literacy into the curriculum. He’s familiar with the bounty of British seas and hopes to highlight their importance to a global audience. ‘I think people under-appreciate what exists around these coastlines,’ says Philippe, who spent four years living by the Scottish coast as a student at the University of St Andrews. ‘Coldwater diving in UK seas is absolutely remarkable – they are so full of nutrients and abundant with marine life.’
IN THE GENES
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