January 8, 2015

One Way to Save Flipper (and his Ocean).

dog, beach, trash

A few months ago I sat on a beach in Bali and saw a dog running up and down the beach collecting plastic bottles.

As much as these plastic bottles were probably just a toy to him it made me think about the effect we have on these beautiful beaches, the ocean and its inhabitants.

Ever since I was a kid I’ve had this unexplainable love and fear for the ocean. I found it so very mesmerizing; I could easily spend hours staring at waves. But growing up sailing every year with my family, I’ve also got to know the ocean’s other side, the darker side—the power and sometimes even the cruelty.

My love for the ocean grew with me and for the past few years I’ve been traveling and living in warmer, beach-side countries but there’s something I can’t get my head around—the travelers and our trash.

During the day we can see so many people enjoying the sunshine, the ocean, the beaches…but what happens when the sun sets? The people leave, but their trash remains.

We take so much from nature and what do we give in return? Trash, loads of trash. Cans, wrappings but specially empty plastic bottles. It is horrifying and concerning to see so many people, many of whom call themselves “ocean lovers” do this to the sea.

But not everyone is like that, of course. There are quite a few people that care more, way more than an average person and some care so much that they establish whole organisations dedicated to protecting our oceans and keeping them clean.

While traveling and living in surf communities my appreciation and concern about the ocean grew and, as I later discovered, so did the number of organisations dedicated to protecting it. I wanted to present just a few we can join to help make a positive change:

Surfrider foundation (US and Europe):

“Thirty years ago a group of surfers from Malibu, California, were concerned about the health risks associated with environmental threats posed by escalating coastal development at their favourite surf spot. They took action. Not even they could have envisioned the history they were making when they succeeded in protecting their beloved surf spot.”  ~ Surfrider foundation

30 years later, Surfrider foundation is one of the largest non-profit organisations, has more than 250,000 supporters, volunteers and activists and is working on more than 100 different campaigns in four areas: beach access, water quality, coastal preservation and protection.

I had the pleasure of meeting one of the activists from the organisation when living in Morocco and I must say the work they are doing is pretty big and important—they educate local kids about environmental problems, about pollution and organise beach clean ups.

Surfers Against Sewage (UK):

“Surfers Against Sewage (SAS) is an environmental charity protecting the UK’s oceans, waves and beaches for all to enjoy safely and sustainably, via community action, campaigning, volunteering, conservation, education and scientific research.”  ~ Surfers Against Sewage

The project targets issues including sewage pollution, climate change, toxic chemicals, marine litter and coastal development. They also believe that waves and surf spots deserve to be seen as part of UK heritage and should have greater recognition in political debates. The organisation is trying to raise awareness of these natural resources and how they can help support sustainable (and economically successful) coastal communities in the UK.

Surfers for Cetaceans (AUS):

“Surfers For Cetaceans is an Australian based volunteer non profit group which aims to mobilise surfers and ocean crew worldwide against the harassment, capture and killing of cetaceans and other marine mammals, and for coastal and marine conservation.”  ~ Surfers for Cetaceans

This organisation was co-founded by a professional surfer, Dave Rastovich, and ocean activist Howie Cook in 2004 and has since then been involved in many projects, such as, The Humpback Whale Icon Project where every town along the coastline of Australia adopts a specific Humpback whale that passes by each town twice a year. They also participated in a front line exposè of Japan’s annual dolphin drives and held peaceful ceremonies in the Killing Cove in Taiji, Japan.

The organisation is well aware of the many issues our oceans face, but focus on the cetacean issue due to a intimate human and cetacean relationship of the surfing community.

Even if joining an organisation is not really our thing, let’s just try and respect the nature and the ocean enough to leave it as it was before we affected it—immaculate and clean.


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Author: Katarina Tavčar

Apprentice editor: Katarina Tavčar / Editor: Travis May

Photo: Author’s own

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