‘You just have to do something’: B.C. tourism company turns to shoreline cleanup

An ecotourism company that takes clients into B.C.’s vast marine wilderness is branching out to help protect the places it loves.

Maple Leaf Adventures noticed marine garbage piling up on otherwise pristine beaches and took it into its own hands to clean it up.

It was a trip over 20 years ago that changed everything for Maureen Gordon.

Click to play video: 'Capturing Coastline Cleanups on Camera'

Capturing Coastline Cleanups on Camera

“We were in Juan Perez Sound and we were surrounded by humpback whales and I had never seen anything like that,” Gordon told Global’s This is BC.

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“I just realized, this is what I want to do for my life.”

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Gordon and Kevin Smith, the couple behind Maple Leaf Adventures, have been showcasing the most remote regions of the coast to guests from all over the world.

“I’ve always felt an affinity to nature,” said Gordon. “It’s always been there for me.”

Several years ago, that connection to the local wasters sparked the idea to do a massive cleanup.

“Eventually you get to a point where you just have to do something to help protect the place that you love,” Smith said.

Click to play video: 'Province announces almost $3.8M in funding for B.C. shoreline cleanup'

Province announces almost $3.8M in funding for B.C. shoreline cleanup

Smith lead a tourism industry initiative that cleared beaches of old tires, plastics, nets and Styrofoam — anything that they could pack up and haul away.

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“Three-hundred-odd tons of marine debris,” said Smith. “Sixty-five per cent of it was recycled.”

“I think everyone was a bit flabbergasted really because you don’t know it’s really there because usually it’s buried under a log or some sand,” Gordon added.

“Mountains of it, and it’s just washing onto the coast year after year.”

The expeditions were so successful that there are plans to try and get the crews back together.

“We’re trying to find a way to make it a regular part of our seasons,” Smith said.

The company is hoping to play a part in protecting this pristine corner planet.

“I love the feeling of just being insignificantly small, surrounded by grand nature,” said Smith.

“It’s kind of like Avatar in real life,” Gordon added. “It’s a world that doesn’t need us. But we are so privileged to be able to walk into it.”

To contact Jay Durant with a story idea for This is BC, email him details and contact information at thisisbc@globalnews.ca

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