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Thanks for connecting with our oceans, waves and beaches.


Eating from a food chain we’re tainting

We conveniently segment the way we think about the ocean. We think of the ocean as some infinitely large area which, no matter what we do to it… no matter what we dump in it… it’ll be fine. We think it’s too large to NOT be fine.

One fact we tend not connect to any ocean-related news is that we routinely eat from this food chain. We are what we eat… which includes all the junk we throw into the ocean. A research project recently found 35% of fish had plastic in them.

If this sounds like an insurmountable problem, it isn’t. That said it is OUR problem and does require a shift in our thinking.

We need to acknowledge both the connection we have with the ocean as well as our interdependency with the ocean. We need to understand that using single-use plastic ANYthing is a bad idea. So what can we do?

Refuse first. Chances are you can do without whatever single-use plastic you’re being offered. You can bring a bag to the grocery and use a reusable bottle for water. You’re smart, figure out an alternative.

Reduce what plastic you use. If you absolutely must take a piece of single-use plastic find a way to use less of it. Get your coffee without a plastic lid unless you absolutely need it.

Reuse the plastic you have. If you’re in a place where you have no alternative to taking a single-use plastic item, reuse it. The absolute worst thing you can do is take a plastic bag, use it for 5 minutes to carry groceries and then throw it out.

If you’ve failed at all the above, recycle. Recycling isn’t something to be proud of because it means you’ve failed at the first three options. That said, it’s better than NOT recycling.

We are what we eat. Let’s not eat plastic.

The ocean as a dump

We have a very odd and wildly inconsistent way of behaving around our oceans.

On one hand we are drawn to it like few other things. The most expensive real estate borders the ocean, many people’s preferred vacation is to go to the beach, etc. On the other hand we seem to treat this very thing, this magnet for our time, attention and money… like a dump.

Why do we treat the ocean as a dump?

We saw this in the Gulf last year as millions of barrels of oil spilled into the ocean for weeks on end. Fast forward to today and we’ve opened the floodgates for more and more drilling in that region.

Now we, all of us, are seeing the Japanese government dump radioactive material into the oceans… and doing so as if that’s an acceptable thing to do.

11,000 tons of radioactive water is being dumped into the ocean.

This water is toxic, it is between 100x and 10,000x the legal limit.

We sit back, watch it happen and don’t anything about it. We may feel like we’re powerless… but we’re never powerless. We may be apathetic but we’re not powerless. If we organize and if we engage others we have more power than we may have dreamed was possible.

Surfrider Japan has been fighting a campaign for years that seeks to to have nuclear power plants stop dumping toxic, radioactive materials into the oceans. The Rokkasho Plant, in a nearby region, has been dumping radioactive materials into the water for a long time, it’s part of their daily operational procedures. You can view a video on that campaign here.

If you want more information on the recent, incremental, dumping of radioactive material at the Fukushima Daiichi power plant, you can find that here.

If you’d like to engage in this and get involved. You can donate direct to Surfrider Japan to assist them with the longer-term issues related to these campaigns, click on the flag to the left.

Dune restoration in Texas

I love photos like the one taken by Rob Nixon to the left. They highlight the simple need for locals to become stewards of the beaches they love. In this case we’re talking about a dune restoration project in Texas.

If you look at the numbers there is a nice measurement of success:

44,000 plants were planted, covering approximately 80,000 square feet of dunes.

400 volunteers devoted a total of 1,200 hours.

Those figures are super impressive and kudos to Rob and the rest of the crew behind this effort.

But there is a larger message and Rob captured it well in his blog post.

This is about a cultural shift.

The success captured in the picture is a community coming together to care for the places they recreate.

If left alone and not advocated for the open spaces we love tend to suffer declines. Sometimes they’re even lost. This is a photo of that not happening. This image captures a community, engaged.

Plastic water bottle fossil

What do we leave behind?

What will the fossils from our era highlight?

More great work from Young and Rubicam Paris.

Surfing is…

More pics in this Surfer Mag by Morgan Maassen over here. His site is here.

Dipping a toe in the water: The Sean Ahlum podcast

I wanted to reach out to Sean and capture his story because it offers an evolutionary look into Surfrider Foundation. Some people that dip their toe in the Surfrider water end up with most of their body submersed.

Sean started out as a chapter member in North Carolina and fast forward… today he’s a member of our Board of Directors. This gives him a bookend experience to our mission. He knows what it’s like at the volunteer/grassroots/activist level and also understands the challenges and opportunities involved in managing the larger framework supporting that network.

We sat down at Swamis in Encinitas, CA and captured the story that led to his involvement in at the local level and also captured what the Board of Surfrider does throughout the year.

Listen in as Sean and I catch up.

Here is the Music Player. You need to installl flash player to show this cool thing!

Other podcasts are here. Subscribe to podcasts via itunes here. And if you’re wondering why I create podcasts like these, that answer is here

Surfrider in Arabic

I love seeing the idea behind Surfrider embraced by new regions. Our mission “… protection and enjoyment of oceans, waves and beaches through a powerful activist network” has been live in North and South America, Japan, Australia and Europe for years. Now it is being embraced on the African continent. The following is a great piece (in Arabic) on Surfrider Foundation in Morocco.

First time on a board

Last evening I took my friend Tim surfing. It was his first time on a surfboard. There is something truly special about watching someone discover the magical elements of the ocean.

We see that discovery… the magic… mostly with kids. When I take my son to the beach he’s stoked beyond belief to play in the waves. He stays in the water from the time we get there to the time we leave. But let’s face it, adults are different.

We’re usually so concerned with looking cool that we miss out on the joy the ocean offers us. We’re too busy looking at ourselves to see the ocean.

Surfers, a group that spends arguably more time IN the near-shore environment than any other group, also tend to miss the magic. When a dozen dolphin swim through a pack of surfers it’s not a big deal. It happens with such regularity that it’s not extraordinary. The discovery isn’t there… the newness is gone.

It was great to see the discovery… the appreciation for how insanely amazing the ocean is… reflected on my friend’s face.

The truth is that the ocean was kinda lumpy last night. The wind hadn’t settled down like it typically does for an evening glass off session. The waves were waist-high and crossed up. If I was out with another surfer we might have complained about the conditions. If I was by myself I may not have even paddled out.

But I did paddle out and I was stoked that I did.

Surfrider’s mission is “… protection and enjoyment of oceans, waves and beaches…” My sense is that it’s something approaching impossible to get a person to help us protect our oceans, waves and beaches if they don’t see value in them. It’s hard to ask someone to step up and defend something that they haven’t been personally touched by.

So Tim. Now that you’ve connected with our oceans… time to connect with the idea of preserving them. Join Surfrider.

Captain Charles Moore at this weekends Surfrider Hawaii chapter conference

Captain Charles Moore at the Surfrider Hawaii Conference from Rise Above Plastics on Vimeo.