By 2050, there will be more plastic in the ocean than there are fish. It might be hard to believe that fact, but that’s because most of the garbage that will never break down is floating in the middle of the sea or is piled up on the seafloor.
In January 2018, a violent storm that battered cities in the U.K. turned up mountains of garbage that had been littering the seabed for years, and dumped it all over the beaches. while cleaning up the coast, one little boy found something remarkable amongst the piles of trash…
In early 2018, the coasts of the United Kingdom were hit by Storm Eleanor. The violent storm battered coastlines with storm-force winds up to 100 miles per hour. As a result, trees were uprooted, thousands of homes were left without power, and various transportation lines were brought to a halt.
Because of the extreme winds, heavy rain, and hail, major bridges were damaged and multiple highways were closed as they had been blocked by trees and flipped cars. However, that wasn’t all the powerful storm managed to do while battering the country…
A Sea Of Trash
Storm Eleanor also caused the sea to churn up massive piles of garbage that had been laying on the seafloor for years. Once it reached the surface, it was pushed back to shore in massive waves that crashed along the coast.
Remnants Of The Storm
Once the storm finally began to dissipate, the beaches were left covered in mountains of garbage. According to Martin Dorey, a local man who started a campaign to get people to volunteer to clean the beaches, the beach was “as bad as I have seen it…”
When Nick Crooks, a local father, heard about what had happened, he decided to do something about it. On January 7th, Crooks took his family to the beach to help with the clean up efforts. Not only did he want to help keep the beaches he loved clean, but he wanted to show his sons about the importance of taking care of the environment.
Inspired To Act
According to Crooks, he had watched the BBC TV documentary Blue Planet II, which had inspired him to take more action in protecting sea life by keeping the ocean free of plastic bottles, plastic bags, and other general waist that will never break down…
Doing The Right Thing
“Every once in a while something comes along, and it just triggers something inside of you, and we all felt very passionately about it,” Crooks said. So on the morning of Sunday, January 7th, Crooks and his 2 little boys drove to the beach at Stanbury Mouth and started picking up trash with other volunteers.
The Sprite Bottle
Crook’s 8-year-old son, Noah, was picking up as many plastic bags and bottles as he could but stopped short when he picked up a bright green Sprite bottle. Inside the bottle, he saw something that he thought he would never see in real life…
A Letter In A Bottle
Inside the Sprite bottle was a white piece of paper with writing on it. “When I picked it up, I was just amazed because it is not every day you find a message in a bottle,” Noah said about his exciting discovery, which he immediately showed to his dad and brother.
An Incredible Find
“I was just picking up rubbish when I looked in the bottle and saw the note. I went up and told dad but he didn’t think it was real until he saw it,” the 8-year-old said. It wasn’t until Noah and his dad opened the bottle and read the letter that they realized how remarkable their find truly was…
The letter had been written by a 10-year-old girl named Jacquie Chmilar who left her parents’ contact details at the bottom of her note in the hopes that someone would find the letter and reply back to her. “If found, call or email please.” Jacquie wrote.
Noah and his dad sent an email to the email address in the note explaining that they found the bottle on a beach in England. Not long after, Jacquie replied and explained that she lived in Canada. The bottle had travelled more than 2,100 miles…
An Unbelievable Surprise
“I thought it was a joke,” said Jacquie’s mom Suzanne Chmilar who didn’t believe that a family across the Atlantic Ocean could have possibly found her daughter’s letter in a bottle. “I didn’t believe it until I saw the picture,” Suzanne added.
A 6-Month Journey
In Jacquie’s response to Noah’s email, she explained that she had been staying with her grandparents in Newfoundland, Canada when her grandfather suggested she send a letter in a bottle one afternoon. That was 6 months before Noah picked it up at Stanbury Mouth Beach…
Pen Pals For Life
“It was really cool,” Noah said about how he met his new friend and pen pal who lives in Fort McMurray, Alberta. “Pen pals for life, I think. That’s a strange way to do a pen pal,” joked Suzanne, who hopes Noah and her daughter keep in touch.
The Other Bottles
Noah had found 1 of 3 bottles with letters inside that Jacquie threw into the ocean while vacationing at her grandparents’ home in Musgrave Harbour, N.L. last fall. Incredibly, Jaquie got word that a second bottle had also been found just 7 days before Noah picked up the Sprite bottle from the sand…
In early 2018, Jacquie’s mom also received an email from a 9-year-old girl that had picked up one of the other bottles. This time, the bottle had traveled 2,137 miles from Newfoundland before washing up on Widemouth Beach in Cornwall, U.K.
Friends Across The Pond
“She was so excited to get these messages. We were all excited. We were overwhelmed and calling family members,” said Suzanne after making contact with 2 families in England. “Even at school she’s been talking about it to different classes…”
After word spread about how a 10-year-old sent out two letters in bottles that ended up crossing the Atlantic ocean and washing up on beaches in England, the story quickly made international news. The Crooks family, hopes the amazing story will encourage people to get out and clean up the beaches.
Hopes For The Future
“I think lots more people should do it because you just see these massive piles of rubbish,” Crooks said. For now, the kids plan on staying in touch through email, and hope to one day meet in person. “Maybe in the future we will make a trip to England,” Suzanne said. “It would be really cool meeting them,” Jacquie added.