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May 2010

Oil Spill hits Louisiana Coast


Contents: Volume 1, May 2010 3 Surf Puerto Rico 5 Gyre Garbage Patch 7 Catastrophic Oil Spill Hits Home


Surf Stories started surfing as a lark. I lived by the beach in Santa Monica and had learned to body surf at Sorrento (Neenies - Famous Weenies) and State Beach. I had just graduated from Samohi and was going to Santa Monica City College (1956). A friend talked me into trying board surfing. I borrowed a home made board from a girl friend’s father who was a fireman. The board was a small balsa with a skeg that looked like a boomerang. It was late afternoon when my friend and I arrived at Malibu. No one was in the water and the waves were tiny little lines breaking at the point. I got the board out of the car and as I passed a car parked at the curb with it’s doors open on the beach side, a voice came out of the darkness, “You can do it, boy”. I glanced in the direction of the voice and saw this big guy lounging in the back seat of this huge sedan. I was so self-conscious I just smiled and lowered my head and continued down the path to the beach. I found out later that the voice belonged to Tube Steak “King of Malibu”. I rubbed some paraffin on the deck of the board and walked into the water with it. I floated the board then tried to lay down on it. Oops! Flipped right over!

“I kept trying until I got my sense of balance and started paddling out toward the waves.” I laughed at myself and how silly I must have looked. I kept trying until I got my sense of balance and started paddling out toward the waves. I don’t remember if I caught any waves that first day but I did “pearl” a lot and lost the board on the rocks and learned how hard it is to walk on slippery barnacle covered rocks at low tide. I kept at it but the borrowed board was really too small for me. I bought a used Velzy-Jacobs “Pig” and finally learned what it felt like to catch a wave and stand up. It was so much fun and better than body surfing so I went surfing every chance I got.

At first I went for the fun of it but got hooked on the whole scene and started hanging out at Malibu where I met a bunch of great (and crazy) guys and girls. I became a fairly good surfer and enjoyed the summer fun we all had together. I remember those rare summer days when it got 6 - 8 ft., glassy and perfect shape. The only problem with those days was that the word spread quickly and anyone with a board showed up at the beach. It got crowded and lots of people didn’t know how to surf very well. I was a regular at Malibu and when these kooks started taking off in front of me and didn’t know how to turn they’d screw up every wave they tried to ride. Everyone got mad at these guys but they were so stupid they didn’t care. They just kept getting in the way. I vowed I’d never become one of those old farts that got in the way of other better surfers.

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By Noah Levy

Puerto RRRico With its crystalline blue water, gentle trade winds blowing offshore on the northwest coast, palm trees swaying over white sand beaches, and hundreds of reefs, points and beaches, it’s almost surprising that surfing didn’t really start in Puerto Rico until the late ‘50s. Local boys Jose Rodriguez, Guille Bermuda and Rafy Viella are credited as being the first to surf the north and northwest coasts; the first surf shop was opened in San Juan in 1960 by American surfer Gary Hoyt, and dozens of locals started taking to the waves around the city and on the northwest coast in the early part of the decade. But it was the 1968 World Surfing Championships -- won by Fred Hemmings and Margo Godfrey -- that really put Puerto Rico on the surfing map. Worldwide exposure -- right at a time that surfing was itself really expanding -- sent planeload after planeload of (mainly) American surfers to PR’s wave-soaked shoreline, quickly earning it the title of the “Hawaii of the Atlantic”.

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Left: Sunset surf session Right: Local Art


Until being out there, in the vast liquid wilderness, it’s difficult

to our left? It seems impossible that humans could have such an

cup of photo degraded plastic scattered across a football field, then

inspired, and ultimately hopeful that we can change our behavior,

to comprehend what a “gyre garbage patch” really is. Imagine a multiply that by 50 million or maybe even one trillion. Beyond the

ubiquitous plastic fragments (every trawl had evidence of plastic), we came across areas known as wind-rows; lines in the sea where

impact on such a large space. It’s like finding life on Mars. Sad but I will continue on with the “5Gyres” project, and investigate the South Atlantic later this year.

marine debris, organic or otherwise, collects. In 45-minutes with a few pool nets, we’d pull up incredible amounts of plastic: shotgun shells, lighters, mop squeegees, bucket lids, toothbrushes, mouth

guards, bleach bottles, plastic bags, fishing line, and the list goes on. Basically we collected items that you can find at your local grocery store, in the middle of the North Atlantic.

After that first session of collecting debris, Marcus and I sat in the

cockpit talking. I still couldn’t get my head around what we found.

It wasn’t computing, especially since the Sea Dragon was but a speck on the ocean’s surface. What was a half-mile to our right,

Gyre Garbage Patch

By Nikki Tranchita


DESIGNED, SHAPED, AND SURFED ON LOCATION


Catastro oil spill hits home

As public awareness grows regarding a major oil spill from the Deepwater Horizon rig well on a lease owned by British Petroleum (BP), the thousands of people that participated in the Hands Across the Sand movement are stewing in black irony -- oil-black irony. “Hands” founder Dave’ Rauschkolb’s concerns about a potentially catastrophic spill are proving prescient, as oil threatens Gulf and Atlantic beaches and many other ecosystems vital to surfing, recreational fishing, the seafood industry, and tourism in general.

“We feel for the families of the eleven workers killed in the blast,” said Rauschkolb, a veteran waterman and restaurant owner from Seaside, Florida. “And it is a shame it is going to take a spill of this magnitude to hopefully open our leaders’ minds to the risks oil drilling presents to our coastal communities and fragile environment.” During this spring’s Florida legislative session, “Hands”, along with an array of environmental groups, succeeded in convincing the Florida legislature not to lift a ban on drilling within 234 miles off Tampa, at least this year. But it’s now clear that spills occurring far beyond the line of prohibition can have disastrous impacts. Meanwhile, new reports based on whistle-blower testimony suggest that many other Gulf rigs pose significant threats. The U.S. House Natural Resources Committee has demanded that BP produce “a copy of [these] inspection reports, as well as any reports of other inspections at the Deepwater Horizon rig, including all inspections of the blowout preventer.” Speaking from Louisiana, President Obama stated that, “’Let me be clear, BP is responsible for this leak. BP will be paying the bill.” One estimate of damages is high as $14 billion, given a worst-case environmental scenario. As of this writing, Monday morning, May 3rd, EST, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) reports that the 5,000-foot-deep well is spilling 200,000 gallons or 5,000 barrels per day, and that the spill now covers at least 900 kms. Oil is expected to wash ashore today in what ecologists call the “fertile crescent” -- the coastal marshes of the North Central Gulf that are the primary producers of marine life in the water body. Dead animals have been reported already washing ashore. NOAA has closed waters from the mouth of the Mississippi to the Florida Panhandle to fishing for ten days. Experts say that the geographic range and extent of physical damage will be directly related to how quickly engineers working for BP can cap the well or drill a “relief

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ophic

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Left: Heather Neville of Tristate Bird Rescue and Research rinses off an oiled brown pelican which was captured on a barrier island off the fragile Louisiana coast

well,” which would siphon off the oil from another hole. Estimates range from a few days to three months. No coastal area in the Gulf or South Atlantic is safe, and virtually every known significant ecosystem could be impacted. Surfline forecaster Mike Watson explained that the winds that are currently pushing spill towards shores of the northern Gulf will subside as a cold front passes through. These winds -- up to 40mph out of the southwest -- have limited the abilities of responders to contain the oil with booms. But, they have kept it out of the loop current, which feeds into the Florida current, which feeds into the Gulf Stream. The implication is that through this complex nexus of currents, the entire northern Gulf, the Gulf Coast of Florida, and coastal areas as far north as Cape Hatteras are likely to be affected. The western Gulf is also threatened as summertime winds change prevailing currents into an east-west pattern. A Coriolis affect related to the Mississippi River’s influence might also hasten its spread to western Louisiana and Texas coastal features. Scientists are concerned that the spill could push over-fished species to the brink, and already beleaguered ecosystems past “tipping points.” For instance, right now, the imperiled bluefin tuna is spawning in the loop current. Their larvae remain at or near the surface, and contact with oil is fatal to most larvae. “Because of the way that relatively immobile things wind up together in these currents, pelagic larvae and oil may well wind up together,” said Dr. Larry Crowder, an ecologist at Duke University. The implications for estuarine habitats such as mangroves and tropical coral reefs are similarly dire. In 1989, renowned Paleoecologist Dr. Jeremy Jackson studied the impacts of a spill in Panama, in an area where significant baseline data had already been collected.

“This most definitive research showed that after a bad spill, transplanted mangroves did not take and seagrass beds died on oiled reef flats. And stony corals in less than three meters had from 45-percent to a 96-percent loss of coral, while un-oiled reefs had essentially no loss in coral cover. Whole strips of mangroves perished. Obviously, here in the Keys, we, like everyone else along the coasts of the Gulf of Mexico, are hoping that the oil from Deepwater Horizon blowout doesn’t reach our shores.” The 1989 Panama spill, and other examples, support concerns that the spill could push beleaguered Gulf ecosystems, such as the north-central marshes and coral reefs in the tropical zone, which are already some of the most rapidly disappearing coastal ecosystems in the world, past a “tipping point.” “It is difficult to say in the early stages of this unfolding situation,” says leading snapper researcher Dr. Jim Cowan, from Louisiana State. “But there are few directions in which the spill can move that will fail to produce some impacts on fisheries production, especially if the problem becomes chronic--i.e., the flow of oil is not stopped quickly.” If the spill continues unchecked, and if the President holds BP to paying for the damage, the company, along with the millions of people dependent on ocean and coastal resources will painfully and profoundly realize how dangerously false a dichotomy it is.

Silica  

A traditional surfing publication

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