Kristal Ambrose also known as ‘Kristal Ocean’ is a vibrant, charismatic, environmental scientist studying marine debris and plastic pollution in The Bahamas. After sailing across the Pacific Ocean in 2012 to study the Western Garbage Patch, Kristal was inspired to return home to The Bahamas to spark a plastic pollution revolution. Her career in the environmental field spans over a decade and for the past six years she has been working diligently on plastic pollution research and education in her country. In 2013, she began The Plastic Beach Project; a citizen science based initiative that studied plastic concentrations on beaches in The Bahamas. Her passion for the issue led her to develop and launch Bahamas Plastic Movement (BPM), a non-profit organization geared towards raising awareness and finding solutions to plastic pollution. Since embarking on her journey to change with Bahamas Plastic Movement, she has brought awareness of the issue to thousands locally and globally through educational lectures, summer camp programs and citizen science projects. She was awarded the 2014 Environmental Youth Leader Award from The Government of The Bahamas for her efforts in the field of plastic pollution research and education.She has been featured in both the Sierra Club Magazine and Coastal Living Magazine where in the latter she was named an Ocean Hero by musician Jack Johnson. She is a graduate of Hocking College (A.A.S Fisheries Management and Aquaculture), Gannon University (B.A Interdisciplinary Studies (focus on Environmental Science, Biology and Education) and Dalhousie University (MSc. Marine Affairs).
Credit: Dorlan Curtis/Jawanza Small
Over the years, Kristal has devoted her time and energy to youth development in the marine sciences, with a focus on plastic pollution. She fuses her love for the oceans and youth activism each year during the Algalita Plastic Ocean Pollution Solutions Youth Summit, where she has served as event moderator and workshop facilitator since 2014. A fundamental program ran by her organization BPM is the Plastic Pollution Education and Ocean Conservation Summer Camp. This tuition free intensive program is geared toward transforming the attitudes of Bahamian students to the marine environment by helping them understand their role in protecting it from plastic pollution. She has truly devoted her life’s work to this issue and has been invited to share her work across The Bahamas, United States, Canada and Europe. In December 2017, she moderated an event at the United Nations Environment Assembly meeting in Nairobi, Kenya on international governance for marine litter and received the 2017 Unsung Hero Award for her work from Professional Services Bahamas. In 2018, Kristal and her youth delegation successfully engaged the government of The Bahamas in banning single use plastics (SUP), styrofoam and balloon releases in the entire country by the year 2020.
Her efforts haven’t gone unnoticed as she was named the 2020 Goldman Environment Prize winner for Islands and Island Nations for her work on The Bahamas SUP ban. This monumental accolade has garnered Kristal international attention, having been featured on The BBC, The Guardian, NPR and the 2021 Women of the World Calendar. Currently she is pursuing her PhD at the World Maritime University in Malmö, Sweden where she is researching marine debris monitoring for the Wider Caribbean Region.
Credit: Donna Whitfield DeCosta