There are many ways to protect the ocean but the most efficient of all, is to bring the general public closer to its beauty. Responsibly conducted whale-watching does just that by providing guests the opportunity to enjoy the company of some of the most magnificent creatures of the ocean.
Water sports, such as surfing, also represent proactive ways of enjoying and understanding the ocean. Organisations such as the renowned worldwide project, Save the waves, know that the more time you spend in the ocean the more inclined you feel to ensure its protection. An experienced surfer appreciates the epic waves surf zones provide but also understands that it accommodates numerous species of marine plants and animals. These unique and fragile ecosystems are under threat worldwide through issues such as coastal development, pollution and coastal erosion though sea level rise. The non-profit coalition Save the waves aims to raise awareness on these issues through campaigns and outreach programmes involving local communities. The organisation uses surfonomics, a sort of economic value determination of a wave or coastline for surfers, to show that local communities can profit financially from keeping these coastlines as pristine as possible and thereby facilitate the creation of “world surfing reserves”.
To check out their campaigns visit: https://www.savethewaves.org/campaigns/
While many have heard of the worldwide campaigns set up by Save the waves, what many people don’t know is that the coalition saw its origin in efforts to protect some of Madeira’s most famous surf spots from coastal development. The coalition’s founder, Will Henry, was a regular visitor to Madeira and loved surfing the iconic waves of Lugar de Baixo and Jardim do Mar, which remain famous spots amongst locals as well as international surfers. The hollow point break of Lugar de Baixo was altered by the local government during the highly controversial construction project of a marina that was severely damaged by a large swell and closed shortly afterwards. The famous swell at Jardim do Mar has become a downright deadly wave for surfers after the construction of an enormous surfwall, causing the wave to break dangerously close to the rocks. So far nobody has gotten severely injured but several boards have been blasted against the rocks by the formidable break. Despite the failed efforts of grassroot campaigns to stop the coastal development projects altering these special areas, the issues in Madeira inspired Henry to save other surf zones worldwide from the same fate and thus, Save the Waves was born.
The epic waves of Madeira make the island a total hub for wave-riders, so it’s no surprise that a similar movement called Wake up! exists right here on the island. Wake Up! combines surf and bodyboard classes with beach cleanups and awareness campaigns, to show that the surfing lifestyle is indeed a conscious and sustainable one. So, rather than being afraid of the oceans power, you learn to love, respect and protect it.
So if you feel like embracing the power and beauty the ocean, grab a board and get involved! We recommend getting salty with one of Madeira’s finest surfers, Belmiro Mendes: https://salty.pt
Try it out…perhaps you’ll discover a new hobby and experience your own unique connection to the ocean!
By Paula Thake