Sunday 2nd October, 2011 (Gaviota Coast, California, USA): A group of environmental activists led by Australian professional free-surfer Dave Rastovich (31, Byron Bay, NSW) set to sea north of Santa Barbara yesterday on a one-month voyage to the USA-Mexico boarder. Called “TransparentSea” the environmental initiative aims to highlight local coastal issues and the plight of marine mammals.
During the 260-mile (418-kilometer) odyssey the group will be joined by like-minded individuals and a rotating roster of special guests as they kayak and surf their way south, making more than 20 stops to engage communities and draw awareness to key issues.
Among those on the first leg from Gaviota Pier to El Capitan (in Santa Barbara County) were Australian actress Isabel Lucas and her singer-songwriter boyfriend Angus Stone.
Before the 18ft twin-seat Hobie kayaks were placed in the water for their maiden voyage, a beach-clean was undertaken in conjunction with the local chapter of the Surfrider Foundation. Chairman, Sandy Lejeune, was on hand to represent the Foundation in the region he is fighting to protect from development – the Gaviota Coast is home to the last remaining 20-mile stretch of undeveloped rural coastline in Southern California.
On Thursday night at the local Santa Barbara Maritime Museum a fundraiser kick-off and awareness night saw over 300 paying guests enjoy music by Australian group Band of Frequencies, the recently completed documentary “Minds in the Water” was screened and a silent art auction held with all proceeds being forwarded to the not-for-profit “Surfers for Cetaceans” (S4C) group Rastovich helped co-found in 2005.
Kristi Birney, Marine Conservation Analyst for the Santa Barbara Environmental Defense Center spoke of local efforts to reduce ship strikes on blue whales in the Santa Barbara channel. The channel boasts one of the world’s busiest shipping lanes, but also the densest population of blue whales, the world’s largest animal.