On June 8, World Oceans Day, YOLO Board team rider Kacie Wallace and friend Kimberly Sutton will begin paddling up the North Carolina coast, from the South Carolina state line to Virginia. The two are making the trip to raise awareness of plastics pollution in the ocean. And they’re looking for a support boat to accompany them.
Keeping the oceans clean means a lot to both women. Wallace doesn’t think the waterways around Wrightsville Beach have as much visible plastic trash as some inland waters, but, “It’s everywhere. It might not be what you see but what you know is there,” she said. “It’s destroying ecosystems for fish, birds and the food chain.”
One oft-cited example involves the birds of Midway Island. Dead albatrosses have been found with stomachs stuffed with plastic debris, floating in the vast Pacific Trash Vortex. Birds that feed on the colorful trash actually starve to death.
There is a similar vortex or gyre in the North Atlantic. Bonnie Monteleone of the Chemistry Department at the University of North Carolina Wilmington travels annually to the region to document and collect some of the nonbiodegradable garbage that swirls perpetually at the center of the ocean’s great currents.
“We’re making effects on places we don’t even inhabit,” Wallace said.
Wallace, 45, lives in Durham, N.C. and works as a law professor at N.C. Central University, as well as a principal and mediator at Interplay Resolutions. Wallace recently traveled to Hong Kong, where she lectured on environmental conflict resolution and helped present films for Ocean Recovery Alliance at the Hong Kong-San Francisco International Ocean Film Festival.
Sutton, 29, lives in Wilmington and works at the Two Wheeler Dealer bicycle shop. She started paddleboarding two years ago when friends introduced her to the sport. Wallace also started a couple of a years ago, after she dreamed about paddleboarding in Hawaii. Now, she represents YOLOboard, a standup paddleboard manufacturer who supplies her racing board and is also supporting the trip.
As an Ocean Ambassador for the Ocean Recovery Alliance, Wallace urges plastics manufacturers to track their products, encouraging recycling to minimize waste. It’s called the Plastic Disclosure Project. Wallace said she and Sutton hope to partner with parks and marinas during their trip up the N.C. coast to get people to commit to shrinking our “plastic footprint.”
Sutton said she thinks the two paddleboarders can make 40 miles a day. Weather-permitting, they could make the trip up the N.C. coast in eight or nine days.
They need a boat they can sleep on and take refuge in if there’s dangerous weather. Wallace’s brother, an experienced deep-sea fisherman, can serve as captain.
If you can help, contact Kacie at: firstname.lastname@example.org