Vancouver Island beaches are some of the most beautiful in the world, but they’re also collection spots for garbage and debris that wash up daily.
Numerous groups around the Island, like the Surfrider Foundation, do their best to clean beaches. David Jensen does it all in some of the tightest and most dangerous coves and beaches.
“It’s so polluted out there and I had no idea,” Jensen told CHEK News. “I think a lot of people have that same thing where it’s just out of sight, out of mind.”
Not only is he alone as he picks the beaches clean, but he does it all by moving from beach to beach on his paddle board.
“It can be an extremely dangerous piece of water and really unforgiving coastline. What I find where I’m going is mostly the bones of animals and shipwrecks,” Jensen said.
He goes out for weeks at a time in the summer and not only cleans the land but lives off it, too, because there’s only so much he can pack around with him.
“The way I do it is unique for sure, like actually living in these areas and moving around like a nomad, like a hobo,” he said with a chuckle.
He says there used to be more commercial fishing garbage, but it’s now being matched by debris from container ships and micro debris like polystyrene foam.
Microplastics are everywhere, and as he eats from the land, he sees it first hand.
“Those little microplastics that are pounded into little pieces. Last year, when I caught a fish and I was gutting him and was looking in his stomach, and it was full of plastic,” Jensen said.
He’s joined forces with Living Oceans Society and relies on the organization to lift out bags of the garbage he collects by helicopter. He says in 28 days last year, he brought in five tons of debris.
Jensen says it’s all a bit of an adventure that he enjoys, and he’s been featured in Explore magazine, but he adds it can be very disheartening at the same time.
“Overwhelming, you know you’re just one person out there and you know as soon as you leave, something else will likely wash up.”
He does it all out of his own pocket using money he makes as a commercial painter in the winter, but he could use donations and a link to do so is on his website.