Imagine this – you are vacationing at the pristine white-sand beaches of the Bahamas, taking in a mimosa sunset when you impale your foot on a used medical needle. That’s the power of pollution. The problem is that the oceans are vast and pollution from one country dumping waste can travel around the world and damage ecosystems, and feet, anywhere. So what do we do about it? This problem is too big to solve on your own. That’s where Surfrider Foundation plays a huge part.
What is the Surfrider Foundation?
Surfrider Foundation is a grassroots organization dedicated to the protection and enjoyment of our world’s oceans, waves and beaches. The organization began with a small group of concerned citizens – in this case, Malibu surfers. Surfers at Surfrider Beach were becoming extremely concerned with the deterioration of their favorite surf spot and began protesting the threats to the environment there. In 1991, after several victories, Surfrider Foundation grew from a single entity to a chapter organization. Surfrider Foundation currently has over 85 chapters in the United States and an additional 20+ worldwide with over 250,000 members, activists, volunteers and supporters including Eddie Vedder, David Chokachi, Jason Mraz, Mark Hoppus and Foster the People’s Mark Pontius and Cubbie Fink.
State of the Ocean
For every piece of man-made waste that washes up on shore, there are hundreds that don’t. These items end up catching in reefs, being eaten by fish and otherwise polluting the ocean. A panel of scientists and oceanographers commissioned by the International Programme on the State of the Ocean (IPSO) found that ocean life is, “at high risk of entering a phase of extinction of marine species unprecedented in human history.”
The panel estimated that over three-quarters of the ocean’s coral reefs are at risk of severe decline due to the acidification of the ocean, local pollution and concentrated overfishing. The biggest issues come from the presence of microscopic plastics that sit on the ocean bed. These plastics are carriers for everything from algae to chemical pollutants. Because they are lightweight, they convey these materials easily and transport them to areas of the ocean that they would normally never reach. This has led to strange algae blooms and chemical concentrations in barrier reef systems throughout the globe.
The panel also took note of the exponential melt rate of glaciers, and the impact that the higher water levels will have on ocean currents, including redefined fish migration patterns, changes in surface weather phenomenon due to temperature changes near the new currents and potential extinction event as habitats are irrevocably changed.
Surfrider Foundation Takes Action
Surfrider Foundation has been fighting to improve the condition of our oceans and beaches for almost 30 years and have notched over 230 environmental victories in places as varied as Mar Del Plata in Argentina and Corpus Christi and Galveston, Texas. They have fronted several plastic bag bans, including their latest effort in Chicago. These successes are just the tip of the iceberg. Surfrider Foundation has recently stepped up and had a hand in creating nationwide policies, including that to Restore Beach Act Funding that will provide federal funding to coastal and Great Lake States to pay for their beach water testing programs, making it safe for us to swim and recreate in the water year round without the threat of possibly getting sick..
There are currently 58 local campaigns, seven regional campaigns, 14 statewide campaigns, five national and one international campaign supported by the Surfrider Foundation. Whether it is a clean water project, beach access issue, preservation or environmental protection concern that you have, Surfrider Foundation has the knowledge and support that you need to help you make a change.
There are hundreds of ways to get involved in the fight to maintain our oceans and beachfronts. Surfrider Foundation is always taking donations and looking for volunteers to work on their campaigns. But, the best way to get involved is to become a member. Memberships start at $25 for an individual and $50 for a family and include a subscription to the digital membership newsletter Making Waves, 20% discount at Swell.com and chapter contact information so you can start making a difference right away.
This isn’t something to file away for another time. It’s your chance to get involved right now and make good on that promise you made to yourself to become more involved in the causes you care about. Visit Surfrider Foundation’s website and, while you’re there, get a membership. You’ll be glad you did.