Surfer and photographer clean up beaches from Washington state to Carpinteria
Professional surfer Anna Ehrgott has caught a wave of environmental dedication.
She recently traveled south with surf photographer Sarah Lee from La Push on Washington state’s Olympic Peninsula, cleaning up beaches along the West Coast. Last Monday, they stopped at Rincon Beach Park in Carpinteria and picked up trash.
The two 30-year-old women are bringing attention to the need for cleaner beaches, which environmentalists note is essential for a cleaner Pacific Ocean. It’s all part of their 1,200-mile Catch A Clean Wave tour, which is sponsored by Hawaii-based Kona Brewing Co.
Sometimes it’s just Ms. Ehrgott and Ms. Lee, picking up trash and inspiring passersby. Sometimes they lead groups in cleanups.
“Our goal is to leave beaches cleaner than we found them,” Ms. Lee told the News-Press. “We’re stoked to be teaming up to do that.”
Ms. Ehrgott stressed the need to keep beaches — and the ocean impacted by them — clean. Trash often gets washed up with the tide.
The National Resources Defense Council reported that an estimated 80 percent of marine litter comes from land-based pollution.
And that’s bad news for marine life.
“Anything that ends up in the ocean can be ingested by sea life,” Ms. Ehrgott told the News-Press.
After Carpinteria, Ms. Ehrgott and Ms. Lee headed to Ventura and kept going. Last week their journey wrapped up with cleanups in Malibu, Venice Beach, Doheny State Beach and finally San Diego.
The trip started July 13 in La Push and included stops in Westport and Long Beach, Wash.; and Short Sand Beach, Oceanside and Bastendorff Beach, Ore. In California, they cleaned beaches at Klamath River, Point Arena, Santa Cruz and Moonstone Beach before their stop at Rincon Beach.
“It’s a good excuse to explore the whole West Coast,” Ms. Ehrgott said. “There are so many places we’ve been wanting to see and surf and meet with the locals.”
They found the condition of the beaches varied.
“Washington and Oregon were pretty clean with the exceptions of a couple towns with a lot of visitors,” Ms. Ehrgott said.
Noted Ms. Lee, “A lot of the remote beaches we went to were clean and perfect.”
But she said that at various beaches’ high tide line, there were as many pieces of microplastics as seaweed and sand.
Ms. Ehrgott said she and Ms. Lee picked a lot of trash Monday evening at Rincon, which they have previously visited. “We love to surf there in the winter.
“It’s an incredibly beautiful beach,” Ms. Ehrgott said. “I love the shape of the cove. Cypress trees are so Santa Barbara.”
Ms. Lee said Rincon Beach has given her and Ms. Ehrgott joy and that they were glad to do something for the area in return.
They noted that people saw them picking up trash at Rincon Beach. Ms. Ehrgott said they want to inspire others to do the same. “That’s our goal, to have this domino effect of ocean conservation, getting people to care.”
Ms. Ehrgott, who has surfed around the world, brought her lifelong love for the ocean and surfing to the Catch A Clean Wave journey.
“I competed a lot when I was younger,” she said, noting today that she focuses on surfing for photos and videos in social media and magazines.
“We’ve been working together for seven years,” said Ms. Lee, the photographer. “We’re shooting video content to tell stories of our travel and inspire other people.”
Their Catch A Clean Wave sponsor, Kona Waves, is partnering with Save the Waves Coalition and has committed $50,000 to help that nonprofit.
In June, timed with World Oceans Day, the coalition launched its Save The Waves app to empower surfers, beachgoers and ocean lovers to report and track coastal threats in real time. The app allows them to tag the location and alert the organization.
“Save The Waves is dedicated to protecting surf ecosystems, and it is through partnerships with like-minded organizations like Kona that we are able to continue our mission,” said Nik Strong-Cvetich, the coalition CEO.
Vanessa Parker, brand manager of Kona Brewing Co., said the Catch A Clean Wave journey is the company’s way to give back to surfing communities. “It’s a fun way to spotlight the popularity of surfing across the globe, as well as highlight the important need to keep our oceans clean. We hope everyone, regardless of where they live, will be reminded that we need to be active participants in ocean conservation, and what better place to start than in your own backyard.”