Act | on your convictions Wave Riders Unite
Dave Rastovich Byron Bay, Australia; cofounder, Surfers for Cetaceans
"I'm a pro surfer; I'm paid by surf companies to use their gear and create documentaries. I pick destinations with the hope of getting great waves and exposing--and stopping--the degradation of marine life. Everywhere I go I witness crimes against nature: dynamite fishing in Indonesia and the Philippines, shark finning in the Galápagos Islands, and dolphin slaughters in Japan.
"I grew up on Australia's Gold Coast--a place with long beaches, clear water, great surf, and lots of dolphins and whales. I've had countless interactions with dolphins that have given me huge respect for their gentle ways. At any moment they could choose to hurt you, but they never do.
"In 2004, artist Howie Cooke and I created Surfers for Cetaceans (S4C) when I realized few surfers had any idea that whales and dolphins are still being butchered around the world. It's a personal issue for surfers, because dolphins also love to ride waves. No other humans maintain such an intimate connection with wildlife. You don't see wild animals trotting alongside African tribesmen simply because they both enjoy running through the bush.
"In October 2007 a group of us paddled out on our surfboards to protest the horrific killing of dolphins and whales in Taiji, Japan. The fishermen were very threatening, and we had to flee before they turned on us, so we only delayed the slaughter. But in the wake of our protest, several news programs sent crews to Taiji. Their stories exposed the killing as well as the dangerous levels of mercury in cetacean meat, which was subsequently pulled from supermarket shelves in Japan.
"Two days after creating S4C, I was surfing with a friend near home; fish and dolphins were everywhere. We came over a wave, and a tiger shark was swimming straight at us, very aggressive. It got about five feet from us when a dolphin swam in and pushed it away. We couldn't believe it. It was a clear message to continue giving back to the ocean, which has given me so much." —interview by Steve Hawk
TO KILL A DOLPHIN More than 20,000 dolphins are intentionally slain every year in Japanese waters, but media coverage is minimal in Japan.