- WSL / Thiago Diz

A project recognized by UN Ocean Decade was carried out for the second year ahead of the Vivo Rio Pro 2024, featuring trash cleanup activities and seedling planting involving local community representatives and surfers.

(Left to right) Pictured above are WSL Championship Tour surfers Imaikalani deVault, Seth Moniz, and Barron Mamiya.

For the second year in a row, APRENDER Ecology Institute and WSL PURE, through WSL One Ocean and Conservation International, have partnered to organize an activation in Saquarema in collaboration with the city hall and other organizations. This important stewardship activity was recognized as an action of the Decade of Ocean Science, a movement created by the United Nations to ensure that ocean science can support countries in implementing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

We were joined by WSL Championship Tour surfers Bettylou Sakura Johnson, Barron Mamiya, Liam O'Brien, Matthew McGillivray, Seth Moniz, and Imaikalani deVault, along with dedicated SHISEIDO Blue Project Ambassadors, local youth and community members, and volunteers from participating organizations.

WSLOO Rio 24 WSL surfers and SHISEIDO Blue Project volunteers cleaning up the lagoon. - WSL / Thiago Diz WSLOO Rio 24 WSL Championship Tour surfers mentioned above, along with WSL Commentator Kaipo Guerrero and Managing Director of APRENDER, Fernanda Muller. - WSL / Thiago Diz

The team removed trash and planted seedlings in a stretch of mangrove near the mouth of the canal that flows close to the main surf spots in Saquarema, raising awareness about the connection between what happens on land and in the sea using the concept of surf ecosystems as a tool.

Across Brazil and the world, there are thousands of areas where high quality surf breaks overlap with high biodiversity and high carbon ecosystems including: mangroves, seagrass, wetlands, coral reefs and coastal forests. These "surf ecosystems" are under a growing threat, but can be protected through the power of the world's surfing communities and stakeholders that love and want to protect the ocean. Brazil is one of the world's most biologically diverse and wave rich countries, and as a result, a critical country for the conservation of surf ecosystems.

In addition to continuing the activation carried out last year, the lagoon was chosen because it illustrates the connection between Saquarema's iconic surf breaks and marine and coastal ecosystems, demonstrating the importance of these surrounding ecosystems for the quality of the waves that surfers and sport enthusiasts love so much.

WSLOO Rio 24 WSL surfers and volunteers paddling out to the lagoon cleanup site. - WSL / Thiago Diz WSLOO Rio 24 Managing Director of APRENDER, Fernanda Muller, sharing some words before the work on the lagoon begins. - WSL / Thiago Diz

"We are very happy to continue the work with WSL in this emblematic activation for the Saquarema surf community and ecosystem. Through cleaning and planting activities, we were able to engage and raise awareness among people and athletes about the interactions between land and sea," commented Fabricio Almeida from APRENDER.

Saquarema is home to an amazing set of ecosystems such as mangroves, lagoons, dunes, restinga and forests which are part of the Atlantic Forest Biome, one of the most biodiverse in the world. Only 12% of it is left and more than 70% of the Brazilian population live within its range and need its ecosystem services such as water supply, climate regulation, and leisure. A large portion of that 70% also directly benefits from the services provided by Surf Ecosystems.

"Approximately 5 million Brazilians are surfers and millions more are surfing enthusiasts so there is an enormous potential for raising awareness through activities that bring socio-environmental consciousness. This is why the partnership between the WSL and a local organization is so important", said Almeida.

Conservation success requires ongoing action. With that in mind, the organizations are very happy to continue stewardship actions in 2024, building on the successful partnership between WSL PURE and WSL One Ocean with APRENDER that started in 2023. The activation carried out during the Vivo Rio Pro 2023 by these organizations in conjunction with Conservation International Brazil provided information about the Surf Ecosystem of Saquarema, collected garbage from the Saquarema lagoon, and planted seedlings of native species. WSL Championship Tour Surfers Yago Dora (2023 Vio Rio Pro Winner), Johanne Defay, Caio Ibelli, Liam O'Brian, and Matthew McGillivray participated in the activation, collecting waste and planting.

Other activations were also organized by APRENDER and CI-Brazil, such as education activities held at a local school that brought information to over 50 children, and a discussion circle about Surf & Conservation that featured Ivan Martinho, President of WSL Latin America, and big wave surfer Carlos Burle.

WSLOO Rio 24 The amazing group that joined us for the activation ahead of the 2024 Vio Rio Pro. - WSL / Thiago Diz

Support from WSL One Ocean also helped host the first meeting of the Brazilian Surf Reserve Program strategic council, formed by surf specialists such as Carlos Burle, Claudinha Gonçalves, Bruno Bocayuva, and Érica Prado. The Program is launching its open call to nominate the first National Surfing Reserve in Brasil - Guarda do Embaú is the only World Surfing Reserve in Brazil.

Thanks to the WSL PURE Grant and matching funds from Corona last year, APRENDER also installed an eco-barrier in a river in Saquarema that has already collected 300 kilograms of waste, in collaboration with 12 organizations.

To learn more about the important work carried our by our partner organizations, visit:

As surfers, the ocean is our playground and our stadium. Getting involved in protecting and conserving the ocean is critical for us today and for future generations. Show us what you are doing by posting on social media with the hashtag #WSLOneOcean and tagging @wsl and @wsloneocean in your posts. You can learn more and get involved at WSLOneOcean.org.

WSL One Ocean is supported by Shiseido and YETI.

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