Surfers tend to pride themselves as adventurers, regularly crossing the oceans blue in search of the perfect wave. To me these swell-frenzied pleasure cruises don’t quite measure up to our friends the leatherback sea turtles. These giant graceful crusaders endure just about everything the ocean has to offer on their migratory quest.
The life of these turtles is not easy – I will never forget a surf trip I took to an isolated island off the coast of Africa where I was witness to the hatching of hundreds of turtles in the most pristine natural setting. Even without human influence like pollution or over fishing these baby turtles chance of survival was slim. It was not easy to sit back and watch swarms of birds attack these newborns as they made their way from the beach to the sea.
Like a lot of the grassroots missions at “Save The Waves” we got hands-on and helped our little friends on their way. It’s safe to say that to be a reproducing, adult turtle is a massive feat, and I would consider them true underground (and underwater) heroes.
One could draw some solid comparisons between surfers and our shelled brothers and sisters. Both species tend to live life in an aquatic gypsy fashion, enjoying simple natural pleasures like a favorable current or some warm sunshine on the back. But unlike our surfing population that fortunately seems to be bursting at the seams with growth, our leatherback turtle brethren are struggling, almost facing near extinction in some places.
I think “The Great Turtle Race” is something the world should take notice and get behind. I’m personally pulling for my surfing buddy, Grembo Jones, who is holding her pattern, nice and steady. I have faith she is going to pull this one out in the end. Go Grembo!! Hope you find that favorable current and make history!
Hans Hagen is a professional free surfer and proud father of two, living with his family in Laguna Beach, California. A former competitive surfer, Hans now prefers nature’s clock to timed man-on-man heats, and is thankful to all his sponsors for allowing him the freedom to roam. He is also a film producer, freelance writer, and part owner of JEN (Just Everything Nice) Optics, a surf/skate/snow inspired eyewear brand. An avid nature lover, Hans has teamed up with Save The Waves Coalition to help promote environmental awareness around our increasingly threatened oceans and coastlines around the world.