Huntington Beach is more than just the name of its founder or its famous moniker "Surf City." Known as Lukup to the Juaneño Band of Mission Indians/Acjachemen Nation, and as Lukupangma to the Gabrielino-Tongva people, this part of the California coast has been home to these communities since time immemorial. Still here, the Indigenous people maintain their ancient relationships to the lands and waters while more recent populations foster their own connections.
With millions of people inhabiting today's Southern California coastline, challenges to protect the ocean from a variety of dangers are formidable, from pollution to erosion and sea level rise, and more. A myriad of organizations work to enact solutions to various problems, and the World Surf League is doing their part to contribute to those efforts, bringing together athletes, partners, conservationists and Indigenous people in Orange County through its WSL One Ocean initiative. This year WSL collaborated with partners OC Coastkeeper, Native Like Water, Surfrider, WILDCOAST, and SHISEIDO to bring several important conservation-oriented activities to the Wallex US Open of Surfing. The initiatives involved WSL athletes, WSL PURE grantees, actress/activist Rosario Dawson, and community partners.
Opening the contest window again this year was a blessing ceremony led by Acjachemen tribal elders Chairwoman Heidi Lucero and Adelia Sandoval. Chairwoman Heidi Lucero and Adelia Sandoval bring a wealth of tribal cultural knowledge and generous, engaging spirits reflecting that of the Original People of our shared coastline. Chairwoman Heidi Lucero and Adelia Sandoval were joined by Shannon Wingfield, Richard Rodman, Ellen Sue Schneider, Mariah Doyle and Robin Cruze.
A few days after the opening ceremony, actress/activist Rosario Dawson joined the WSL One Ocean and SHISEIDO Blue Project Beach Clean-Up with WILDCOAST at the U.S Open of Surfing, CA in Huntington Beach, Calif.
WILDCOAST was thrilled to have the opportunity to join SHISEIDO and WSL for a WSL One Ocean beach cleanup at the Wallex US Open of Surfing this year. Beach cleanups do more than just clean the beach. They connect people to their coastal spaces and educate through action. Conserving and restoring our coastlines and oceans through beach cleanups and natural solutions by regenerating our wetlands, kelp forests, seagrass beds and mangroves is essential in helping to store carbon as well as enhance fisheries and protect ocean wildlife. That is why we are doubling down on our blue carbon restoration efforts in California and Mexico and halting the tsunami of sewage, toxic waste and marine debris fouling California state beaches, marine protected areas and protected islands along the U.S.-Mexico border. We must do everything possible to preserve and enhance our blue wilderness." - Serge Dedina, Ph.D., Executive Director, WILDCOAST
Knowing how beach cleanups not only help remove marine debris from our beaches, but galvanize communities to care about larger upstream issues, WSL One Ocean and Shiseido led a second beach cleanup on August 3rd with support from Surfrider and Native Like Water alongside surfers, volunteers, and community members. Surfrider is dedicated to the protection and enjoyment of the world's ocean, waves and beaches, for all people, through a powerful activist network.
"Engaging professional athletes and global brands in efforts to protect our ocean, waves and beaches is an honor for the Surfrider Foundation. Beach cleanups are an incredible opportunity to educate and inspire personal habit change that can sustain shifts in the way individuals approach their relationship to single-use plastics, which is the most prevalent type of pollution found on our beaches and in our ocean. We know that we cannot "clean up" our way out of the problem and so highlighting the immediate impact of cleaning our beaches while also tracking the beach cleanup data will drive Surfrider's ultimate goal of changing policy and eliminating single-use plastics at the source. Not to mention, during cleanups we make sure to have fun, make connections and build a stronger appreciation for our treasured playground." - Dr. Chad Nelsen, CEO Surfrider Foundation
Native Like Water prepares and integrates teens and adults of under-represented populations into ocean recreation, conservation, wellness, and inter-generational cultural exploration. The program focuses on one's sacred relationship to water through an indigenous lens.
"Indigenous coastal recreation has a large spectrum and is vital to survival. This is a great opportunity to be included in the collective shift from destructive invasive species to the restoration of native species and habitat. Indigenous coastal recreation and way of life is a large spectrum along the coast. Our inclusion is vital to survival and to a thriving ecosystem. Healthy regeneration is slowly on the rebound and I am content Native Like Water is part of this," said Marc Chavez, Executive Director of Native Like Water.
Following the cleanups, in partnership with WSL One Ocean, Orange County Coastkeeper led an oyster restoration effort as part of its ongoing work in the region. A local nonprofit organization, OC Coastkeeper is dedicated to protecting the region's fresh and saltwater resources. Working with a diversity of groups in the public and private sectors, they implement innovative programs to promote advocacy, education, restoration, research, enforcement and conservation to achieve healthy, accessible, and sustainable water resources in the region.
OC Coastkeeper has created an array of projects designed to assure resilient marine ecosystems. One of its most important restoration projects involves a particular variety of oyster in local ocean biomes where they have become all but extinct.
Commonly known as the Olympia oyster (Ostrea Lurida), these mollusks were an important food source for the Acjachemen, Tongva, and other coastal tribal communities. Once prolific throughout the entire west coast of North America, it is one of the few oyster species indigenous to this part of the globe. These oysters provide amazing benefits to ocean environments. A full grown oyster is capable of filtering as much as 50 gallons of water a day. They can also stabilize shorelines, creating a structure that retains sediment and reduces erosion. This can potentially translate to protection for coastal homes as sea level rises. Additionally, oysters provide habitat for other species, enhancing biodiversity.
"We're beyond grateful to partner with WSL again in support of our native oyster restoration project," said Matt Sylvester, Communications Director at Orange County Coastkeeper. "Olympia oysters (Ostrea lurida), California's only native oyster species, are incredible animals that strengthen our coastal ecosystems in countless ways. These mollusks help provide habitat and refuge for marine life, improve water quality through filter feeding, and protect against sea level rise by stabilizing sediment. Due to decades of overharvesting and coastal development, the Olympia oyster population is a fraction of what it once was. By building shell strings for larval Olympia oysters to settle on, these hard-working volunteers are making a long-lasting positive impact on the health of our one ocean."
To learn more about the partners involved in these initiatives, visit the links below:
As surfers, the ocean is our sanctuary and our playground. Getting involved in protecting and conserving the ocean is critical for us today and for future generations. Join the "Speak Up for the Ocean" campaign and show us what you are doing to protect our one ocean. Here's how you can help:
- Record yourself doing a sustainable action. Big or small we want to see it all.
- Post your video to your socials, tag @WSL and @WSLOneOcean and use the hashtag #WSLOneOcean
- Celebrate all the people, communities and initiatives who are collectively protecting our one ocean
- Linked here is a toolkit of assets
- Search "wsl one ocean" as a "GIF" on Instagram stories to add fun stickers to your posts
LEARN MORE in the Speak Up For the Ocean press release.
WSL One Ocean is supported by Shiseido and YETI.