Ambassadors of the ocean

Katie and I after a day of surfing in Tofino, BC.

Katie and I after a day of surfing in Tofino, BC.

This blog is written by Elise Pullar and was originally posted on the Canadian Committee of the International Union for Conservation of Nature website.

An ambassador is someone who works to represent or promote a certain activity. As CC-IUCN Youth Ambassadors, CarolineSam and I got the chance to represent Canadian youth at the World Conservation Congress.  But there are many nature ambassadors in this world that often go unnoticed. Let’s recognize some special Ocean Ambassadors...the surf bums.

Surfers don’t just rock wetsuits and say “hang-ten.” To catch a gnarly wave, a surfer has to interpret the waves and weather conditions. One day you’ll be surfing five foot bombers and the next day the water will be as flat as a lake. When I was in Waimea Bay, Hawaii in September, the ocean was flat and surfer-free. Come February, surfers will be shredding giant waves up to 35 feet!

Seven surfers riding a giant wave in Waimea Bay, Hawaii, USA                                                 Credit: Warren Bolster via Getty Images

Seven surfers riding a giant wave in Waimea Bay, Hawaii, USA                                                 Credit: Warren Bolster via Getty Images

When my friend Katie and I tried out our surfing legs in Tofino last weekend, we were lucky to have some “surf ambassadors” along to help us understand the ocean. The guys would check the beaches in the morning and see where the best waves were. Seasoned surfers have spent enough time in the ocean, that they understand the currents, tides and wave patterns really well. They check surf reports and swell direction to have a better handle on the unpredictable big blue sea, before hitting the waves. You don’t understand the true beauty and extreme power of the ocean until you are being tossed around in it!

By spending so much time on the coast, surfers are often the first to notice if the water becomes polluted or the beaches become littered with marine debris.And when you love a place and use it often, you’re more likely to fight for it’s protection. The surfing community isn’t just noticing changing coastlines, they’re also taking action to save the waves!

The Surfrider Foundation believes that the ocean, beaches and waves belong to all of us, so it is our job to protect them. They recognise that our oceans are increasingly threatened by pollution, offshore development and climate change, so they are doing everything they can to save the sea! They run programs to organise regular beach clean-ups, promote Ocean Friendly Gardens and test coastal water quality.

Cleaning up China Beach on Vancouver Island with Surfrider!

Cleaning up China Beach on Vancouver Island with Surfrider!

Save the Waves is another group working to protect the oceans. We’ve all heard of Marine Protected Areas, but check this out -> This organisation is designating World Surfing Reserves to protect surf zones as key environmental, economic and cultural areas.  They believe surfing provides a long-term vehicle for coastal conservation.

Nature is unpredictable, but there are some expert interpreters that love the uncertainty of the great outdoors. Surfers understand and value the ocean as a place worth protecting because it is their playground and their aquatic home.

Long Beach, a.k.a our ocean playground for the weekend.

Long Beach, a.k.a our ocean playground for the weekend.

So what do you love? What would you fight to protect? What are you an ambassador for?