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Teen diver discovers 50,000 golf balls, many degrading, off California coast

The Hill logo The Hill 2019-01-18 Aris Folley
Teen diver discovers 50,000 golf balls, many degrading, off California coast © Golf.com/ Youtube Teen diver discovers 50,000 golf balls, many degrading, off California coast A teenage diver reportedly discovered over 50,000 golf balls, which can emit toxic chemicals as they degrade, off the coast of Northern California over the past two years.

Alex Weber told NPR News in a report published on Thursday that she first discovered the golf balls while she was swimming near Pebble Beach two years ago. Weber, who was 16 at the time, said she stumbled upon the discovery in a small cove she dived in to.

"You couldn't see the sand," she told the publication. "It was completely white."

Weber said the discovery "felt like a shot to the heart."

She said she and her father collected as many golf balls as they could on their way back home.

"I had all of these golf balls in the garage," she said. "And they stank."

After the episode, Weber said she reached out to Stanford University scientist Matt Savoca, who had studied plastic waste in the ocean, for help.

Weber said she and the scientist were able to collect over 50,000 golf balls from the cove.

Though Weber recalled there being sharks in the cove during her trips to collect more golf balls, she said the real dangers were the "golf balls flying in off the course right into the ocean where we were doing collections."

There are reportedly five golf courses near the cove where Weber and Savoca collected the balls.

The two later wrote about their discovery in the journal Marine Pollution Bulletin.

In the journal, the two said the golf balls they discovered contained a layer of polyurethane and zinc compounds that can emit chemical toxins as they degrade.

Though they said the chemicals from the golf balls they collected have a small impact on the ocean's environment, they pointed out that harmful parts of the golf balls could be consumed by marine animals as they degrade.

They also noted that the issue stretches far beyond California, as there are tons of golf courses located along coastlines across the globe.

Weber, now 18, told NPR she is still collecting golf balls along the coastline and plans to study marine science in college.

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