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News, opinions, photos and facts from Ocean Conservancy

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Surfing Safari No More: Trash Has Arrived in Paradise

Posted On August 13, 2013 by

surfer

Photo: Colm Walsh via Flickr

Trash travels. It’s a phrase that’s been uttered hundreds, maybe thousands of times to convey the pervasiveness of trash and plastics in our global ocean.

But now trash has infiltrated the lineup—that congregation of surfers floating just beyond the furthest break, each one jockeying to get the jump on the next wave. For me, the lineup has always been a place of simultaneous solitude, camaraderie and exhilaration. It is a firewall between tranquility and unrivaled adrenaline.

Indonesia—better known as “Indo” in the surfing world—is a mecca for surfers seeking some of the world’s most secluded yet infamous breaks. It’s an idyllic place. Placid turquoise seas erupt into mountains of water that break with tremendous power onto razor-sharp reefs just inches below the surface.

Surfers who triumphantly survive barreling tubes in this part of the world are almost surreal and have often earned the brave rider “Wave of the Year” honors.

During a recent trip to Bali, though, surfer and photographer, Zak Noyle, captured images of a new kind of barrel—one that may become as infamous as the waves themselves: waves of trash.

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This Week’s Top Tweets: February 16 – 22

Posted On February 22, 2013 by

We all know that the ocean is one of our original visions of beauty, and the top tweets of this week certainly lend some good reminders of that. From the majestic creatures that rule the ocean ecosystem, to the small animals that make up a colorful underwater community and to the small child that utilizes the power of the ocean to overcome difficult obstacles, we can see why the ocean is hugely important in so many different ways. And for good measure, we’ve also got a tweet that shows how badly our consumption of plastic harms one of the most coveted aspects of our planet. With quite the well-rounded week to look back on, let’s dive right in with number one:

1. An Oceanic Escape

Our most popular tweet of the week was one that illustrates how big of an impact the ocean can have on our lives. A young boy with cerebral palsy named Alex surfs regularly to help strengthen his muscles. The Orange County Register article quoted Alex’s father as saying that when he is in the water, “he’s just totally happy, he never wants to get out. It doesn’t matter how cold it is, how windy it is, how sloppy it is. For some reason, there’s this gravitation to the water.” While a specific example, the description of Alex’s affinity for being in the ocean speaks to many of our own personal experiences with and feelings toward the ocean.

2. Trash Talking with a Pro

This tweet was about pro surfer Mary Osborne‘s experience at the South Atlantic garbage patch. Osborne says that “it’s hard to go back and actually explain to people what we saw…The only way I can really describe it is this plastic soup, this confetti-like soup.” While seeing may be the most tangible way of believing the damage plastics have done to our oceans, she suggests that changes can be made in individual consumer behavior, in terms of purchasing power and recycling. We couldn’t agree more! In fact, we created our mobile app, Rippl, in order to help you make small choices and changes in your daily lifestyle to better the ocean’s health.

3. The Live Humpback Hunt

Our third top tweet links to a video of a humpback whale’s hunt for food, courtesy of the National Geographic “critter cam” team. Cool view, eh?

4. Are Your Shark Senses Tingling?

If you weren’t excited about this tweet, you probably just don’t have a pulse. The video and photo progressions of shark conservationist Ocean Ramsey’s peaceful swim with a great white shark had us on the edge of our seats. Well actually, it wasn’t just a swim, but more of an underwater piggyback ride; Ramsey first maintained a calm composure as to not frighten the shark, then eventually grabbed its dorsal fin and went for a short ride. Amazing!

5. Baja Beauty

Our last on the list of top tweets for the week is a video made by Erick Higuera that showcases the beauty which can be found in the ocean. In the video’s description, Higuera says that “the gruesome and cruel destruction of these creatures is unnecessary, tragic and extremely alarming. It is imperative to act quickly to protect marine species populations that still prevail before it’s too late.” Indeed, our last tweet this week is another shining reminder of why we all need to continue the fight for a healthy ocean.

Be sure to follow us on Twitter at @OurOcean so that you can get all your ocean-related news as it happens, along with funny and interesting ocean-based content. Until next time, have a great weekend!

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Surfonomics: How Much Money Is a Wave Worth?

Posted On September 14, 2012 by

A priceless moment? Maybe, but effective ocean protection demands we quantify it via “surfonomics.”

The title and author are long forgotten, but I remember the story I used to read to my children. Mom and Dad didn’t have a lot of money, but they lived in a beautiful place and spent as much time as possible outdoors. When their children complained, the parents pointed out that while the family didn’t have a new car or the latest gadgets, they were able to watch the sunset almost every evening. They could stroll along the river at leisure. “How much is a morning on the beach worth?” Mom would ask. “What’s the value of watching the blackberries blossom and ripen?” Dad would say, gathering said berries for the family’s pancake breakfast.

The questions were rhetorical, the point being that nature’s “value” transcends that of mere money. A wonderful point – and one I could relate to while raising a family on a combination of student loans and part-time jobs as I worked on my degree – but when fighting political battles, awe and intrinsic value take a back seat to modern day economics.

Enter Chad Nelsen, environmental director for the Surfrider Foundation. Nelsen recently earned a doctorate of environmental science from UCLA and his work on surf economics was written about in the Washington Post last month.

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Surfers Find a Way and So Will Japan

Posted On June 1, 2012 by

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.

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Dark Side of the Lens: An Ode to Surfing The Celtic Coast

Posted On May 24, 2012 by

DARK SIDE OF THE LENS from Astray Films on Vimeo.

You’d be forgiven for not knowing there are people crazy enough to surf the roiling and rugged coast of Ireland. As the director and narrator of this beautiful, and arresting film says, “Not many people know who we are, what we do, or much less want to pay us for it.” Yet, here it they are reveling in the power of the dark sea.

Surfing Brings Hope to Veterans and Children with Special Needs

Posted On May 10, 2012 by

Danny Cortazzo, the founder of Ride a Wave, Johnny Bowling and Tom Castro give children with special needs their own chance to get stoked on the water. Credit: Ride a Wave

Stoke. Merriam Webster’s on-line dictionary defines it as “being in an enthusiastic or exhilarated state.” If you already surf you know what it feels like. If you don’t, you ought to get yourself to a beach and give it a try.

I live in a surf town so I know that surfers come in a wide range of shapes and sizes – they aren’t all young, tan, hard body Bay Watch lifeguards. One of the things I love about surfing is that all kinds of people can do it. When I paddle out at my local break, I can run into anyone from my next door neighbor, to classmates of my second grader, to world famous big wave surfers. All on the same day.

But even I was a bit surprised last week to find myself sharing the line-up with a young paraplegic boy on one side and a couple of wounded veterans with prosthetic limbs on the other. Continue reading »

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Five Ways to Enjoy California’s New Ocean Parks

Posted On May 3, 2012 by

A diver explores the kelp forests off Anacapa Island, part of the Channel Islands National Park. Credit: Heal The Bay flickr stream

Whatever one’s favorite ocean-touring activity, marine protected areas provide an enhanced experience. California is poised to be the first state to have an offshore network of reserves and conservation areas, places set aside with limited or no fishing, where habitat is protected and the creatures who live there can thrive. Here are five ways to get to know the ocean park near you – or help you make the most out of a vacation destination!

  1. Grab a Kayak and paddle out. Get some exercise while letting the mind relax, observe and savor the moment. My favorite part of kayaking is searching for shadows that lead to mysterious caves and crevices. Kayaking is also a great way to look out for whales in the distance – Grey whales migrate from December through May, and humpbacks can be seen in summer and fall.
  2. Tour by paddleboard. From your vantage point, you can see far out toward the horizon, but still get up close and personal with what’s right around you. Flashes of color reveal schools of fish. Sea otters float by in beds of kelp, cuteness personified. The steady rhythmic paddling always puts me in a more relaxed state of mind. Continue reading »