Monday October 25, 2010 – Spasms from within the “Ring of Fire,” a toxic fault line that spurs disasters from the Earth’s deepest layers, sent a destructive earthquake to Indonesia which then resulted in a deadly tsunami and volcanic eruption.  The 7.7 earthquake struck just 13 miles below the ocean floor and was followed by 14 heavy aftershocks.  Mount Merapi erupted early Tuesday morning, killing so far 18 people and causing thousands to flee the storms of volcanic ash contaminating the air.  Off the coast of Sumatra, a 10-foot tsunami struck the Mentawai Islands uprooting entire villages.  So far the death toll stands at 113 yet over 500 people are listed as missing.  One group of Australian surfers accounts they were anchored in the bay when the tsunami struck and sent their boat straight into a neighboring vessel.  They were forced to abandon ship when a fire broke within the cabins and then scrambled into the highest trees for refuge.  Follow the CNN blog for updated news about the disasters.


It’s difficult to believe that a force as tremendous as the ocean can be impacted by human pressures.  The state of our oceans have been rapidly worsening due to global climate change, coastal development, overfishing, and pollutants.

The EBM, Ecosystem-based Management plan, is a guide to changing the ways human influence effects coastal and marine life in order to restore the ocean to its’ natural state.  Organizations such as the Pew Oceans Commission, Compass, and the US Commission on Ocean Policy have called upon the US government to adopt EBM as a nationwide regulator.  The approach offers management plans and strategies to reform how humans co-exists and integrate with marine life.  A common misperception is that EBM will too aggressively restrict the way humans can interact with the ocean.  However many are unaware that EBM is already implemented key areas around the world  such as Chesapeake Bay, Florida Keys, Great Barrier Reef, Morro Bay, and the Gulf of California.

President Obama acknowledged the BP oil spill as a “stark reminder of how vulnerable our marine environments are.”  He has also been encouraging the National Ocean Council to use EMB as a regulatory plan to guide the US interaction with oceans. (LA Times)

According to yesterdays article “After the Spill“, featured in the NY Times,The House has passed a bill that would tighten environmental safeguards, require companies to furnish detailed response plans before receiving drilling permits, and reorganize the government to prevent to conflicts of interest that helped lead to the BP spill.”

Implementing EBM policies would not restrict human potential in coastal zones but limit the damages inflicted by our present way of living.

To learn more about EBM, check out Compass a group dedicated to “facilitate the communication of the newest science on these topics to policy-makers, managers, the media, and the other general public.  Their website offers insightful information about the current state of our oceans and steps we can take towards restoring healthier waters.

For suggestions on how to get involved and live by EBM policies, visit Seaweb.

(Top Photo: Cobquera, Chile.  Bottom Photo: Mundaka, Spain)

Save the Waves, a non-profit organization dedicated to preservation of coastlines and marine life, monitors surf spots world wide and campaigns to save endangered waves.  Their list of endangered waves encourages ocean enthusiasts to participate in their fight to rescue waves from destruction.

Unfortunately some of the world’s greatest breaks are ranked on the list including Cobquera Chile, Mundaka Spain, Playa Teta Panama and Gijon Spain.  Once lost a break can never be recreated, redeemed, or restored to its former glory.  It is vital we all take action and make the efforts to end the destruction of these waves now, before they are lost forever.  To read more about how to save the four breaks above, click here.  To buy Save the Wave’s documentaries on ocean and surf preservation, click here…you might just find the perfect holiday gift for your family’s ocean enthusiast.

Planning a day trip to a Santa Barbara beach?  Did you know you can check the status of ocean water and find out which beaches have posted warnings even two days prior online?  Check out the county of Santa Barbara’s website here.

Since 1966 the Santa Barbara county has done weekly testing of the ocean on 20 local beaches (16 more recently due to budget constraints).

Find out or see something that looks wrong or causes concern…Send an email to these groups and make a difference.It took one person (Gordon Polk) sitting in front of a county bulldozer in Malibu during the 1980’s that led to the formation of the Surfrider Foundation. One small act, one big result. What can you do today to make a difference for our beaches tomorrow?

Project Clean Water


If you’re lucky, you’ll encounter an issue that stirs within you the desire to fight and protest for a cause. We all deal with the insignificant trials of daily life, but it’s rare when we find a cause worth protesting for.  Here’s a guy who risked sitting in front of a moving bulldozer in hopes of defending the world-class surf breaks in Malibu against destruction.  He claims this act of bravery led to the creation of one of the largest coastal preservation groups of all time: the Surfrider Foundation.   – Leila Thomas

The account by Gordon Polk:

Back in the early 80’s Malibu County decided to renovate the area behind the colony.  To this day I have not been in there. Although as a young boy I played there often and caught lizards, frogs and stepped on rusty nails. Brad Ford had a fort we spent the night in as well.  But that’s another story.

Cut to the chase.

The water that ran underneath the bridges needed to be “flushed” occasionally due to the fact that it was stage two water. I believe the man in charge was Kurt Wallace. He would have the bulldozer dredge the sand at First Point, and the water would come rushing out. I imagine First Point was better than Third Point because after a few days the current would seal the break, and the water would start to fill up again. Thus this produced ample water for the park behind the colony.

Well after some time, the water began to rush out causing damage to the bottom at First Point. The wave started to close out, mushy and sectioned. One Sunday the wave was actually breaking all the way in. This had become a rarity. It was a fun day for all of us out surfing.  Then from the Third Point area we suddenly heard the destructive sound of the bulldozer. Enraged, I turned to the guys with me in the water and said, “Hey! Are we going to let this happen?” The surfers replied, “Calm down. There’s nothing we can do.”  Infuriated by their passive reactions, I took matters into my own hands and paddled straight up to Mike Sprock, who was president of the MSA at the time. He told me to calm down. Thank you Mr. President.

I directed my attention to the guys hanging out behind the lifeguard tower only to get the same reply. Unwilling of surrender, I stood in front of this massive dozer and started to yell at the conductor to back off.  He ignored my angry complaints and continued on his destructive path. Once I became an unavoidable nuisance, he and I began to scream back and forth. I demanded to see his supervisor.

After some time this guy came down and said that he was his super. “Great”, I said. “If you are so low on the totem pole that you are watching a guy on a bull dozer on a Sunday afternoon, then I want to talk to your supervisor.”  I sat back down. If you can imagine, this was getting a bit out of hand at this time. Soon after a woman appeared and declared that she was the supervisor of the guy watching the driver of the bulldozer. Again, I demanded to speak to her supervisor.  Her refusal led me to another enraged yelling fest. Oddly enough the everyday beach goers that passed by decided to help out this angry surfer, and sat down. Then some of the guys that weren’t at first interested in my cause decided to join in, although to mock more me than help. Mike even came over and wanted me to chill because MSA was a member of the chamber. Ha!

At this point, with the mob of people creating a commotion the bulldozer began to loose steam and halted progress. I then slipped out the back of the crowd and phoned Lance Carson. By this time sheriff cars, a blazer, and a helicopter circled the beach as I watched from the street above.

Lance called me a couple of days later, and we met at the Baja Cantina with Snodgrass, a surf legend, a lady from the LA Times and Tom Pratt. Lance and Tom took it from there.  I really just sat back and listened. Guess I was invited cuz I pushed the snowball down the hill. Lance went up, I think with Tom to meet with Wallace. He said he was a real A-hole.

I was semi threatened by some guys who said, “They knew who I was.” I replied, “See those guys?” and pointed to the surfers by the wall. I threatened that if they hassled me that these locals by the wall would take them into the polluted lagoon and tie them up at low tide. This was of course not meant seriously.

I opted to take a back seat and stay low, out of the picture. But there’s one thing that has always bugged me that I have never spoken of, and I am going to throw them under the bus now. Joe Sanders was one of the surfers in the water that told me to calm down and just stood by watching the bulldozer destroy our home break. Yet later I see him and Mike Sprock on the news “tackling the problem.”  That really got my goat since that fateful day at Third Break they did nothing but mock me. There I said it.

Almost a year later, there was this big meeting at the Point Dume Civic Center. Jerry Browns, J Paul Getty Jr., blah. Charts, graphs, newscasters, the whole deal.  Even with a high fever, I knew I couldn’t miss the spectacle. So with a temperature of 102, I trudged down to the Civic Center and stationed myself in the back of the room. Funny, the day of the bulldozer it was only about the waves, but now it was much more. The pier was getting trashed, and the colony was loosing beach. It was so much more and so many people were involved. Really, it was huge.

After all was said and done, I sat waiting for the hall to empty. Feeling nauseous, I didn’t want to get up and see anyone. But here’s my small gratification. As I sat on the aisle seat a complete stranger came by to shake my hand. Then another and another until a small line formed down the isle to shake my hand. Even to this day I get a little wishy-washy when I think of it. Someone in there must have said, “That’s the idiot that sat in front of the bull dozer.”

From my understanding this is the cause that brought together Lance and Tom to start the Surfrider Foundation.

As for me, I am old and surf shitty breaks in North County, San Diego.

There ya go. I am sure there are people that will say I am full of shit. That it didn’t happen that way. It did and I don’t care what anyone says.


Leroy Blowfish Buttlips Polk II



Those who have had the pleasure of experiencing a wild weekend in Isla Vista know how crazy things can get… What most people overlook is the consequences of our fun: trash, trash, trash.  Every Sunday as I bike to Sands beach, the piles of rubbish grow higher and higher.

This Sunday, October 17th.  Wave Patrol is working with Isla Vista’s Adopt-a-Block chapter to hold a massive street and beach clean-up.  We will be meeting at 12 pm at the main beach entrance at the end of Camino Pescadero.  Gloves, trash bags, buckets, and grapplers will be supplied.  Every participant will receive community service certificate and a gift card to a local grind spot in IV.  Come help support!

When:  Sunday, October 17th: Meet at 12 pm (event ends at 4 pm)

Where: Beach entrance at end of Camino Pescadero

Since launching in 2008, the Rip Curl Planet Foundation has donated over $313, 205 to environmental groups.  The foundation focuses on the preservation of surf breaks and funds educational and eco-design projects.  In 2006, Rip Curl Planet joined WWF to save coral reefs in French Polynesia.  The precious coral reefs that are vital to the balance and harmony in our oceans are threatened by pollution, overfishing, and the rise of sea temperatures.  WWF ‘s campaign based in New Caledonia has already resulted in listen 2/3 of the islands lagoon on Unesco’s World Heritage List.

Click here to visit the WWF’s US chapter website.

We’ve heard the facts.  We’ve seen the signals.  We listen to scientists time and time again list the numbers: 500 to 1,000 years it takes for plastic to decompose,  1,000,000 years for a plastic bottle to decompose.  Yet what we don’t know is that since the 1950’s in the middle of the Pacific Ocean a continent twice the size of Texas is growing at a rapid pace completely composed by garbage and plastic waste.

Generally referred to as the “Great Pacific Garbage Patch,” this island sits in the untouched waters between Hawaii and North America’s western coast.  Plastic waste and other non degradable materials are being swept into the North Pacific gyre, a vortex of rotating ocean currents that’s roughly 12,000 miles long.  The counterclockwise motion of the gyre deposits waste into the center of the Garbage Patch which consists of about 80 percent plastic.

Plastic waste is mistakenly perceived as biodegradable when in reality it is photodegradable, which means sunlight breaks the waste into smaller pieces that are ingested by organisms.  These miniscule organisms are then hunted by larger fish that are in turn digested by humans.  The plastic debris releases a toxic chemical known as Bisphenol A (BPA) which scientists have linked to reproductive problems, liver and kidney disease, and diabetes.

For more information and how to help visit:

Garbage Patch: Think Beyond Plastic


Despite efforts from Australia’s government and numerous activist groups, Japan continues to aggressively hunt the ocean’s dwindling dolphin and whale populations.  May 31, 2010:  Australia declared decision to sue Japan at International Court of Justice on ruthless and brutal hunting of endangered whales.  Their action was spurred by Japan’s continuation of whaling in the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary, an area dedicated to the preservation of global whale populations.  Japan argues their practice is justified by the International Whaling Commission act, IWC Article VIII, that allows the killing of whales for scientific purposes.

Similar action to Australia’s recent law suit has been taken against Japan for their mass slaughtering of dolphins at the killing cove in Taiji, Japan.  Surfers for Cetaceans is the activist group mainly responsible for exposing the dolphin hunters.

How to help:

Minds in the Water, follows professional surfer Dave Rastovich as he globe trots fighting to protect dolphins and whales from hunters.  Actively participate in the dolphin and whale population by joining the visual petition.

The Surfrider Foundation’s  Beachapedia is a website dedicated to collecting and sharing knowledge concerning coastal environmental topics and concerns.  By allowing the public to publish articles related to the ocean and coasts, the website inspires community members to make positive impacts at their local stomping grounds.

Recent popular articles include “Nearshore,” an animation composed by Earthguide at the Scripps Institute of Oceanography, and “Recycled Water,” which discusses the constant cycle of Earth’s water.