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Ridgefield Teen Alexandra DiGiacomo Returns from Ocean Conservation Adventure in Belize

by Margaret Lindenburg

Do you know any shark enthusiasts? If you don't, then meet Alexandra DiGiacomo, a rising sophomore at RHS.

In early July, she left Ridgefield to spend twelve days on the coast of Belize with National Geographic Student Expeditions. The high school students who traveled to central America along with Alexandra all had something in common: they wanted to learn about marine conservation and become "ambassadors of the ocean". Activities on the trip included snorkeling the famous Blue Hole in the Gulf of Mexico, and helping collect data for a shark conservationist.

Throughout her travels to different reefs and coastal communities, Alexandra saw large amounts of trash, debris, and plastic mixed with seaweed and littering beautiful beaches. "In a stretch of about 400 feet on one beach, we collected enough plastic to make a life sized person", she said, "It opened my eyes to the how the ocean is being mindlessly destroyed." How is she taking action? By making small choices to reduce waste such as using a reusable coffee cup and straw or even getting ice cream in a cone instead of a cup.

Prior to the trip, and thanks to an event posting on HamletHub Norwalk, Alexandra attended a talk at the Maritime Aquarium at Norwalk given by Dr. Sylvia Earle, a leading ocean conservationist. While in Belize, Alexandra's study group had an opportunity to meet and work with Ms. Earle, who was staying on the same island as them for one day. "Meeting Sylvia Earle was one of the best experiences I had during my time in Belize because she is one of the most important people in marine conservation and had lots of knowledge to share with us".

Alexandra hopes to apply her new passion for sharks and ocean conservation to community service projects during her high school years.

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