A Modern Voyage with Ancient Creatures
September 29th – October 25th
Tuesday 25th October 2011 (San Diego, California, USA): After nearly a month of surfing, sailing and paddling their way down the Californian coast to raise awareness for coastal and marine issues, the group of environment campaigners led by professional free-surfer, Dave Rastovich (31, Byron Bay, NSW, AUS) reached their final destination, Mission Bay, in San Diego on the weekend.
Members of the surf community, professional skateboarders, snowboarders and like-minded special guests from the music, film and art worlds, participated during the 260-mile (418-kilometer) journey that traced the southern migration of blue and gray whales from the Gaviota Coast north of Santa Barbara to the Mexico-USA border.
As well as engaging local communities at more than a dozen stops during the voyage, hundreds of people attended four special fundraiser/awareness nights to enjoy art by internationally recognized creators, live music by Australian group the "Band of Frequencies" and the newly released documentary film "Minds in the Water".
Additionally, the work by local action groups was identified and key issues brought to the fore. They included:
-Santa Barbara (Shipstrikes on blue whales and Preservation of the Gaviota Coast)
-Malibu (Save Malibu Lagoon and the work of the Marine Mammal Care Centre)
-Dana Point (Dana Point Ocean Institute)
-San Diego (Surfrider Foundation and animal Captivity Issues)
As well as daily encounters with marine animals including dolphins, seals, sea lions and sharks, the group was also treated to unforgettable encounters with endangered blue whales. Two of the curious mammals decided to pay the kayakers a visit one afternoon off Newport Beach, swimming beneath the group and putting on a private display near one of the most densely populated coastal zones in the world.
A banner statement in L.A. Harbor, one of the world's busiest ports, paid tribute to the recent ban placed on shark-finning and called upon President Obama to place pressure on other international leaders to help end whaling worldwide.
"After 23 days of traversing this coastline, we're exhausted, a lot of our group got sick, most likely from being in the ocean after rain, but our experiences have been unforgettable. Even though we're tired we're not so tired that we're going to remain inactive on these issues," said Rastovich.
"This trip has been about us learning about this coastline and learning about the groups who do great work to protect it. Importantly, it's also about learning about what the everyday person can do to contribute to making this a better world. And it comes down to supporting local groups who do great work, it comes down to our daily decisions as consumers and modern people … reusing, recycling … realising the change we can bring about by buying locally, creating locally, investing more in local culture … and being mindful of the small things, like picking up trash. If you're down the beach, going surfing and you see trash, you pick it up and take it away."
Chris Del Moro (29, San Diego, CA, USA) is a local surfer, artist and activist who has spent many years surfing and living in California and now, thanks to the recent journey, is seeing his homeland in a new light.
"We've been exposed to such radical contrasts. One minute we're swimming with super pods of dolphins, just a mile or two from one of the busiest and polluted ports in the world. We've experienced the unspoiled beauty of areas like the Gaviota Coast and then just a few days later, we're camped on the bitumen in an RV park next to a six lane highway. We've been buzzed by naval helicopters and heard bombs exploding during testing just a couple miles from famous surf spots,” said Del Moro.
"So coming home and doing what we did really opened my eyes to a lot of issues, but also to a lot of beautiful aspects of our coast I had never previously experienced. Getting out of our comfort zones, going out to sea, getting away from the streets, just having an opportunity to see how grand and beautiful California is rekindled the fire for me to get back and push as hard as I can on environmental issues, push hard on cetacean issues and to do whatever we can to save our seas.
"There's no point in thinking doom and gloom, we have what we have now, so lets make it as beautiful as we can for ourselves, for the next generation and for those here a hundred years from now. This planet is powerful. At some point we might not be here, but for now I really think there is so many blessings to be had," added Del Moro.
Sandy Lejeune, Chair of the Santa Barbara chapter of the Surfrider Foundation, was just one of the crew who participated in the TransparentSea journey, using the initiative to help spread the word about one special stretch of coast he is striving to protect.
"We've maintained a 20-year campaign to preserve the Gaviota Coast and having the crew launch their So-Cal tour from Gaviota State Beach gave us such a huge boost, it brought the international spotlight to a unique and threatened area," explained Lejeune.
Other participants and supporters during the month-long odyssey included musicians Rob Trujillo (Metallica), Tyler Hawkins (Foo Fighters), Angus Stone (Angus and Julia Stone), Tristan Prettyman, and Ry Cuming, Australian actress Isabel Lucas, professional skateboarder Kyle Leeper and professional snowboarder Forest Shearer.
To hear any of the 23 “Song a Day” tracks recorded during the trip, visit: http://transparentseavoyage.bandcamp.com/
Contributing artists included Andy Davis, Chloe Trujillo, Alison Soens, Branden Aroyan, Jason Murray, Christine Brailsford, John Smart, Ned Evans, Rod McCoubrey, Ryan Milner, Scott Soens, Thomas Campbell, Tim McCaig, and Tyler Warren.
A big thank you goes out to the following companies who shared in the overall vision and goals of the TransparentSea USA voyage: Billabong, Sanuk, Hobie, Fast Lane, North Face, Etnies & Clif Bar & Company.
Additional contributing sponsors include Toyota, Surfline, Sector 9 and Electric.
The TransparentSea USA voyage is the secod such trip, the first took place in 2009; a similar initiative which saw the same core group of activists travel 700km (434 mile) over 36 days down Australia's Eastern Seaboard, successfully highlighting the plight of humpback whales.
At the mid-point of the TransparentSea USA journey, the 2011 Global Conference for Social Change, an initiative of the Foundation for Social Change and the United Nations Office for Partnerships, recognized Billabong as one of its Leaders of Change, an award that recognizes companies that are committed to the ‘pursuit of sustainability whereby environmental and social performance are embedded in the competitive strategy of the firm or organization’.
To learn more about some of Billabong's other initiatives, please visit the following links:
-Billabong Design For Humanity fashion, music, art benefit: us.designforhumanity.com
For more photos go to surfimages.com