Global adventurer and ocean advocate Ben Lecomte is the newest ambassador for Vancouver Aquarium and WWF’s Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup, presented by Loblaw Companies Limited.

Lecomte is an open water swimmer who set a world record in 1998 as the only person to have swum across the Atlantic Ocean without a kickboard. He plans to swim across the Pacific Ocean starting later this year in order to raise awareness about the issue of marine debris.

Over Easter weekend, Vancouver Aquarium had the pleasure of hosting Lecomte and his team in its galleries to answer questions from visitors and media alike about his upcoming swim, about marine debris and to explain why shoreline cleanups are important. They also joined in to clean up Sunset Beach during an official Shoreline Cleanup.

On Earth Day, Lecomte made an even bigger splash (only figuratively) when he did a free dive in the Aquarium’s Strait of Georgia habitat, then tackled some pressing questions from media about the marine debris he is expecting to encounter on The Longest Swim. When he swam across the Atlantic in 1998, ocean pollution was less prevalent and Lecomte didn’t encounter much trash. These days, even during training swims, he sees bits of plastic and boxes floating in the waves. He’ll see much more of it during his six-month endeavor: his trajectory across the Pacific Ocean will take him through the North Pacific Gyre, home to the Great Pacific Garbage Patch.

What can individuals do? “You don’t have to swim across an ocean to help; we can all make a difference by being aware of our own actions,” explains Lecomte. “By minimizing our impact, and by keeping litter out of our rivers, lakes and oceans; it helps ensure that shoreline litter doesn’t become marine debris in the middle of our oceans. The Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup does just that.”

The Vancouver Aquarium and WWF’s Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup, presented by Loblaw Companies Limited is currently in the midst of its spring cleanup, running through until July 31. You can sign up to host your own cleanup or join one at ShorelineCleanup.ca.

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