Epic Journey for a Plastic-Free Ocean Comes to a Close at US Border
As he rode a wave onto land one final time at the very southern tip of California, extreme endurance athlete and environmental activist Tom Jones became the first person to paddle the entire coast of California on nothing more than a 14 foot paddleboard. His arrival at Border Fields State Park, south of San Diego at the south-western most corner of the contiguous United States, marked the end of his epic 3 ½ -month expedition – 'California Paddle 2007' – designed to draw attention to the problem of plastic pollution in the world’s oceans and its detrimental effect on marine life.
“My vision has been realized,” exclaimed Jones. “We not only accomplished this amazing feat, but along the way, we made people more aware and environmentally concerned and they have been moved to take action and solve these problems that plague our ocean.” A recent study found there are six times more plastic in the ocean than plankton off the California coast. A United Nations Environmental Report estimated that there are more than 5.76 million tons of plastic in the oceans. That equates to enough to put two thirds of California in a plastic bag.
Jones set out on August 7th at the state’s watery northern tip with the objective of paddling the entire 1,250-mile California coastline. In the final weeks, hundreds of surfers have welcomed him in the surf and on various beaches in support of his exhausting quest.
“I started the Campaign for a Plastic-Free Ocean with the idea that everyone has a responsibility to the environment and everyone has the power to make positive change in their world,” said Jones, a motivational speaker, martial arts expert and international kickboxing champion. “My aim is to combine the resources of governments, corporations and individuals to solve this difficult problem.”
Along this remarkable record-setting journey, Jones endured 50 mph winds, the cold water and rugged coastline of Northern California, swells that took his board, the smoke from the California wild fires, and safely avoided the great white sharks near Santa Cruz. On the upside, he was visited by pods of killer whales, elephant seals, schools of dolphin and escorted through many ports by friendly locals, lifeguards, coast guard and supporters.
Jones, also known as an endurance runner, inventor, humanitarian and child advocate once ran an unprecedented 120 consecutive marathons (26.2 miles each) in 120 days from his Huntington Beach, CA home to New York City in 2000.
The event is was supported by such legendary surfers as Laird Hamilton, Rob Machado, Mickey Munoz and Jericho Poppler, Women’s Hall of Fame surfer who joined Tom in the water for the final leg.
Tom’s journey become a phenomenon and was viewed online by thousands with a site map, satellite image and daily personal message.
Thousands of volunteer paddlers met up with Tom along his once-in-a-lifetime journey and had opportunity to participate in the historic event. At the end of each day his location was pegged to a GPS position. He returned to that point each morning to resume the expedition.