Coral reefs around the world are in dramatic decline, and there is urgent need to raise awareness and participation to support conservation efforts. Surfing has brought worldwide attention to famous waves in Hawaii, Fiji, Micronesia and Tahiti, making their reefs arguably among the most famous pieces of ocean floor in the world. Unfortunately, the structure and health status of the reefs that are responsible for these famous waves are seldom studied, despite their importance to the communities outside of surfing that also rely on them. The surf industry has been somewhat silent in coral reef conservation, but with motivation and education, the global surf community can be transformed into a powerful vehicle for coral reef conservation.
Our team of surfers/scientists hailing from the University of California San Diego and the Scripps Institution of Oceanography have applied to the National Geographic Expeditions Granted program that will provide us $50k to travel to six of the world’s most famous waves that break over coral (Pipe/Teahupo’o/P-Pass/Cloudbreak/Padang-Padang/ and possibly the Central Pacific).
This is not a funded surf trip. Rather, we will travel to these locations when there are no waves so that we can conduct our image acquisition and chemical field work. Once there, we will use our photo-mosaic technology to produce large scale high-resolution images of the reef (thousands of meters squared). The large scale high-resolution images will provide the surfing and non-surfing communities a digestible and exciting interactive interface to explore the reefs beneath their favorite waves. These images have spectacular detail and are truly beautiful. Imagine what it would be like to be able to spend an entire day underwater looking at the reef under Teahupo’o without ever having to come up for air?
A panel of National Geographic judges will select ten finalists out of the 700+ entrants. From there, one winner will be selected by a public vote Sept 16-29.
Every person that we can reach now is someone we can rally to vote. You can find us on twitter @thruthesurface, Instagram @thruthesurface and on Facebook. And of course, feel free to leave a comment or ask question.
And remember to check in through Thursday to find out how to vote!