Surf Features » Environment » Surfers Saving the World: How the Surf Community Supports the Environment

Surfers Saving the World: How the Surf Community Supports the Environment

Photo by Kristine Auble

Photo: Kristine Auble

As risk-takers and adrenaline-chasers, most surfers have a passion for attacking giant waves, but with that same intensity, they also strive to preserve the environment around them. Surfers spend hours in the water and sometimes even more time on the beach laughing about the highlights of the day’s session. With such a deep appreciation for the land they roam, surfers constantly combat critical threats to the dunes, the shore and the ocean they love. 


Dedicated to preserving the environment that makes surfing possible, the Surfers’ Environmental Alliance started as a group of surfers who wanted to protect the beaches, coastlines and oceans they loved. SEA has a base in Long Branch, New Jersey and engages the community through conservation projects that make a huge impact on the local environment. As their main fundraiser, the SEA Paddle NYC has raised millions of dollars for environmental preservation efforts and autism non-profit organizations since 2007. Last year’s event was the eighth time paddlers took on the 25-mile course starting at Brooklyn Bridge Beach to help make sure events like this will be possible for surfers in the future. 

 Members of Surfrider Foundation Jersey Shore chapter help preserve the beach during a dune grass planting

Photo: The Surfrider Foundation Jersey Shore Chapter

Another group of surfers-turned-environmentalist from Malibu, California wanted to save their favorite surf spot from environmental threats so they started the Surfrider Foundation in 1984. More than 30 years later, the foundation has a total of 84 chapters, including multiple locations throughout New York and New Jersey. The non-profit organization is a powerful activist network that gives anyone willing to participate the opportunity to protect the world’s oceans and beaches. Through events like beach cleanups and dune grass plantings, the Jersey Shore chapter preserves the beautiful east coast for surfers to enjoy.

Without a clean ocean, no one can go surfing and the non-profit organization Clean Ocean Action wants to make sure that doesn’t happen. The organization’s goal is to improve the water quality off the coasts of New York and New Jersey through science, education and of course, action. From their Beach Sweeps to their pollution policies, the coalition of surfers, fishermen, students and other groups wants to make the ocean a play for everyone to enjoy without the threat of pollution. 


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Photo: Courtesy of Kanaka Menehune via Flickr

As a result of all the great times they’ve had at the beach, surfers often take on the role of environmentalists. Some of the world’s best surfers have dedicated their efforts to founding beneficial organizations. Former professional surfer, Jack Johnson wants everyone to know how important it is to take care of the Earth so he and his wife founded the Kōkua Hawaiʻi Foundation, which supports environmental education in communities and schools throughout Hawaii. With Hawaii as home to some of the world’s best surf spots, Johnson’s foundation encourages everyone in the community to appreciate all the area has to offer through hands-on experiences. 

 Surfers get ready to take on swell from Hurricane Gonzalo

Photo: Cicero

Surfers know exactly what they’re looking for when they stand at the top of the dunes and look out over the beach. They want clean swells on the horizon and good times in the water. To keep coming back for more clean swells, surfers keep their favorite surf spots in perfect condition and they’re saving the world in the process.

Check out Jack Johnson as he explains how his foundation makes the world a better place:

Kokua Hawaii Foundation

If you want to know more about the Surfrider Foundation, check out this video from the Jersey Shore chapter