A veterinary surgeon from Northam has completed a paddleboarding expedition in the Maldives to raise awareness of plastic pollution and climate change.
Cal Major, alongside fellow UK vet Dr Claire Petros and Maldivian ocean advocates Saazu Saeed and Dhafy Hassan Ibrahim, paddled 100km over eight days.
It was a journey which has never been done before in the Maldives, with the women fighting dehydration, exhuastion, and the glaring sun.
They paddled through 16 islands of Baa Atoll, supported by environmentalist Rob Thompson of Odyssey Innovations, videographer James Appleton, and Shameel Ibrahim of the Olive Ridley Project.
Along the way they visited schools, local islands and resorts to give presentations, run beach and harbour clean ups, and investigate the myriad of solutions to plastic pollution and climate change already in place in the country, with the aim of inspiring further positive change.
Cal, who holds the world record for paddleboarding from Land’s End to John O’Groats, said: “This expedition was so different to my previous expeditions; one of the biggest challenges, and the most rewarding aspects, was working as a team, discovering our complimentary strengths and support, and creating a successful campaign as a unit.”
The women encountered turtles, dolphins and manta rays during the paddling, bringing home the importance of protecting the oceans around the world.
They also found uninhabited islands covered in plastic bottles, enormous ghost fishing nets on beaches regularly used by turtles for nesting, and harbours packed with plastic.
Dr Petros, lead veterinarian of the Olive Ridley Project, protecting turtles in the Indian Ocean from ghost fishing gear, added: “Having treated sea turtles with life threatening entanglements caused by plastic pollution and ghost fishing gear.
“I have witnessed first hand just how much suffering and damage each animal affected by this man made problem has to endure.”
The expedition received copious in-country media attention and support, and was used as a vehicle to encourage continued positive change, and to inspire global action.
Cal will be showcasing the film from her Land’s End to John O’Groats mission at Croyde Deckchair Cinema on March 30.
The premiere of Vitamin Sea will be from 6.30-9.30pm, and is hosted by Dryrobe. All proceeds from the premiere will be donated to the Samaritans and Vetlife.