Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Toxic Soup Of The Day

It rained nearly 2 inches in San Diego yesterday and sure enough there were people surfing the beaches at PB drive this morning. One of them was an old friend of mine. I cannot for the life of me imagine why anyone would want to risk their health for crappy 2-3 foot beachbreak slop. Even if the surf was really good it would be foolhardy and not worth entering the water when the levels of bacteria are just so far off the chart.

The pathogens and coliforms and all the rest of the toxic soup in the water right now and for at least the next 3 days warrants severe restraint on even the most hardcore surf junkie. But don't take my word for it; just read the newspaper or go online and look. Open your eyes boy's and girls's its not going to go away or get any better until the we stop allowing our runoff to pour off the streets, into the gutters, to the storm drains and on to the beaches and into our bodies and those of our children and theirs and so on.

Is the status quo OK with you? Are you down with it Bro? Is that just the way it is so we have to deal with it? I don't think so! What about you?

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Coming Soon To A Beach Near You

Now that the we have come to end of another so-so and typically inconsistent summer surf season here in San Diego, our thoughts have turned to the images of big north swells emanating from the gulf of Alaska. While we all anxiously await that "opening day" of the season which is really somewhat of an arbitrary measure of conditions which really just adds up to a general consensus among the locals at every surf spot that it either meets the criteria or not. Usually, as time passes and it gets deeper into the season for the surf to be eligible for opening day status, the lower the standard gets for qualification. By remaining vigilant and personally checking the surf every day, we'll soon be in the thick of it; in more ways than one. For most of my friends and I it's opening day when Skippy gets one at Hairmo and takes it through the Point, off the side, and all the way into the cove to the beach. That is what constitutes the proverbial "Opening Day" in our neighborhood!

Opening day being just around the corner also means that we can all look forward to the rainy season, which for most of us means taking measures to avoid getting sick from bacteria from urban runoff pollution. Since we haven't had a significant amount of rainfall in nearly six months, the first time it rains over .25 of an inch it would be prudent to abstain from entering the ocean for at least 4-5 days to avoid waterborne bacteria. I hear it said quite often that since those of us who have been surfing X amount of years we have built up antibodies which make us less susceptible to infections. That is, unfortunately, a myth and a dangerous one to believe.. Even if you don't become sick within 72 hours after exposure you are still injesting toxins which may not show outward signs of illness for weeks, months, or even years later. If you do dodge a bullet be thankful that your antibodies are doing their job; this time.

The majority of toxins come from pollution from agriculture, construction, human waste,animal manure and nitrogen and phosphorus from lawns and gardens. In short, everything that is spilled or dumped on the street or in the gutters eventually gets washed into storm drains and into the ocean; we can't possibly imagine what this mixture of toxic soup becomes. These toxins commingle and become diseases that haven't even been identified let alone named.

We do know that some of the toxic viruses have catchy names like the norovirus- Norwalk, viral hepatitis A, bacteria such as E Coli, and the lovely protozoan parasite crytosporidium which will be pouring off the streets, into the gutter, on to the storm drain and coming soon to a beach near you.

It seems to me that here is an overall lack of public attention which is due to the oceans placid appearance. People look out at the ocean and on the surface everything looks fine. Below the surface it reveals a completely different reality. I think that the problems associated with runoff and beach closures due to waterborne bacteria trumps trash and ciggy butts on the beach. Not that plastics and trash and butts aren't problems that deserve our attention. I just feel that eduacting the public about the dangers that lie beneath the surface need to be addressed with more of a sense of urgency. To get a better idea of what the problems and solutions to the problems are, go to the LA Times website and search "Altered States". There was an article just published in the Washington Post titled "Risk Of Disease Rises With Ocean Temperature' It is imperative that you read this information if you plan on entering the ocean this winter, it just might save your life.

I hope you don't get the impression that I'm all doom and gloom. I'm looking forward to the winter surf as much as anyone; I just want everyone to be aware of the dangers that lurk in and around us during the coming rainy season. The problems I have just outlined really just scratch the surface of the issues. As ocean temperatures continue to rise water borne illnesses are only going to continue and the alarming numbers of beach closures will increase incrementally. Look around and you will find lots of information on the subject. A well informed and vigilant citizenry is one that will help make the cities do the right thing and help us solve the problems due to runoff.

Check it out. If any of you have any any information to pass along send it to me and I'll post your responses.



Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Tuesday Surf Report

Greetings from San Diego!

The weather has improved greatly today although going in the water right now might be jumping the gun since the surf isn't really worth it anyway. That was the first rain in months and it was enough to post advisories at most county beaches; especially at the sloughs and Imperial Beach.

I had to have some basal cell stuff removed again last Friday so I am out of action until Thursday at least. Anybody out there?

Saturday, April 26, 2008

San Diego Shark Attack

Good Morning!

I'm pretty sure everyone in even the most remote outreaches of the planet have by now heard about the shark attack which occured yesterday near Fletcher cove in north San Diego county. While all shark attacks are unfortunate and ities are extremely rare, great white attacks are particularly vicious and usually end up as gruesome ities which was the case in yesterday's attack.

One of the most often asked questions I receive when people ask me about paddleboarding in the open ocean is "Aren't you afraid of sharks?" The answer I give is that actually, no I am not. I am aware of the fact that they are there but I greatly respect them and I realize that once I enter into the ocean I am entering a wilderness area over which we humans have to give up control of certain circumstances which may occur- first and foremost being the fact that it is possible (however remote) that we can be bitten or killed by a great white shark. If I let fear overcome me I would have to stop paddling and surfing and I cannot allow that to happen, the ocean gives me too much to let fear come into it.

This attack is the first documented attack on a human being in all of southern Ca. which extends from Pt. Conception south to the border of Mexico. Having said that the probability of anyone else being attacked is virtually nil. There are other mitigating factors to consider when you take into account the circumstances surrounding this attack. Also, the shark moves at approx. 4 knots so tracking in the murky depths with which it s is virtually impossible anyway. I heard that some numbskulls are seeking to find and destroy the shark which is based on ignorance, it is not the sharks fault and Jaws is just a book and a scary movie, it is not based in reality. Sharks just do not hunt humans.

Please note: I am not a scientist or shark expert but I have studied them and had some converstations with Dr. John McCosker Phd. from Scripps Institute of Oceanography and widely known as the foremost expert on shark behaviour. Dr. McCosker is also the creator of Shark Week on the Discovery channel and an advisor to the Coastal Dreams Progect.
The following may be pure conjecture and is only my opinion based on what I've been told so here goes:

The victim was swimming with a group of 9 people and he was the last person in the pack. He may have appeared to be the easiest target for a shark seeking a seal for feed. There was a distressed seal on the beach at the time of the attack and a lifeguard was keeping people a safe distance from the seal. This seal may have been with a group of seals that scattered when the shark approached them leaving only the wetsuited slow humans as the only alternative. Perhaps this may have been part of the circumstances. Also, they were swimming near a lagoon which feeds to the ocean. Dr. McCosker advises to never swim or surf near a creek, rivermouth,or any area where water streams to the ocean because predators such as great whites are attracted to the effluent which pours out of them. There has been a lot of bait feeding in the area lately which may have also contributed to the situation, I don't know, as I said this pure congecture and may even be folly on my part to try and understand what happened. Maybe it was just bad luck for the victim but whites never attack hphazardly, it was just hungry and was feeding. One thing I do know is that it is aways a mistake for a shark to attack a human, they our taste.

Anyone else have any thought on this? I feel terrible that this attack occured and my thoughts and prayers are with him, his family, and his friends.

God Bless,


Sunday, April 13, 2008

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

One California Day

One California Day had it's premiere at El Segundo High last Saturday night. The movie is pretty incredible and features Skip doing his part to keep our local breaks clean.