Surfers cross a debris-laden barrier island at Gamo Beach, Japan. Credit: Nick Mallos
A good wave is always worth the sacrifice. It’s a unanimous sentiment shared by surfers around the world. For surfers at Gamo Beach, Japan, though, it’s not pounding surf that yields a challenge.
Instead, a 200-meter-wide body of water requires them to paddle out to a barrier island, only to traverse another 100 meters of beach where remnants of houses, car parts, bottles and innumerable other tsunami debris items litter the sand. Still, they reach the waves.
Walls of water 10 feet tall formed this island, left this debris and destroyed—or at least severely damaged—everything in its path as it moved inland. Debris piles five stories tall are the only elevation visible on the coastal horizon.
The cleanup effort here is much further along than in the Tohoku region, but progress is relative considering the magnitude of destruction. I joined forces with 11 members of Cleanup Gamo and Jean Environmental Action Network to address this remaining debris in the best way we knew how: a beach cleanup.
A surfer catches a wave at Steamer Lane, one of the iconic breaks included the new Santa Cruz Surfing Reserve. Photo credit: DavidDennisPhotos.com flickr stream
On April 28, 2012, Santa Cruz received international recognition as a World Surfing Reserve– one of only four spots so designated around the globe. Santa Cruz joins Malibu, Manly Beach in Australia and Ericeira in Portugal on the list of honor.
Launched in 2009 by Save the Waves Coalition (based out of Santa Cruz County), National Surfing Reserves (an Australian organization) and the International Surfing Association,World Surfing Reserve’s official mission is to “proactively identify, designate and preserve outstanding waves, surf zones and their surrounding environments around the world.” World Surfing Reserves are dedicated only after a rigorous nomination and selection process that requires local communities to commit to ongoing monitoring and management, ensuring the surf breaks are protected into the future.