Caring For Our Ocean Home

By Stuart Coleman
Wednesday - August 11, 2010 Share

By Stuart Coleman, Hawaii Coordinator
Surfrider Foundation

Surfrider Foundation is a grass-roots nonprofit dedicated to the protection and enjoyment of the world’s oceans, waves and beaches through conservation, activism, research and education (CARE).

Founded in 1984 by a small group of visionary watermen, Surfrider Foundation now has more than 50,000 members and 70 chapters around the world. Surfrider has four chapters in Hawaii - Oahu, Maui, Kauai and the Big Island. Our members are a diverse group of surfers, paddlers, divers and ocean lovers who are committed to beach access, water quality, responsible shoreline development and the reduction of single-use plastics and marine debris.


One of the founding board members of Surfrider was Hawaii’s most famous water-woman, Rell Sunn. Known as the Queen of Makaha, she was the first female lifeguard and pro surfer in Hawaii, as well as the founder of the ongoing Rell Sunn Menehune Contest. Before and after each contest, she would hold beach cleanups and tell all of the keiki, “Malama i ke kai - take care of the ocean.” She knew that if we take care of the ocean, the ocean will take care of us.

When she was only 32, Rell was diagnosed with breast cancer and told she had less than a year to live. Despite her prognosis she lived for 15 more years, and her illness only increased her dedication to take care of the environment. She understood that pollution of the land and sea caused many illnesses, like her own.

Surfrider Foundation volunteers gather monthly to clean Hawaii’s beaches and protect our oceans

Though she died in 1998, Rell’s memory continues to inspire all those who love Hawaii and want to protect her beautiful beaches.

Following in her footsteps, Surfrider’s Hawaii chapters hold monthly meetings and beach cleanups across the Islands. Everyone is welcome at our events, and each year our volunteers literally remove many tons of debris from our beaches and coastal areas.

Our next big beach cleanup will be on Saturday, Aug. 14, from 10 a.m. to noon at Ala Moana Park. Volunteers can meet in front of Magic Island. We’re partnering with Barefoot Wines, and it will host a free party at Tiki’s Bar & Grill afterward for volunteers who are over 21.


To find out more about Surfrider Foundation, make a donation or join a local chapter, go to surfrider.org/oahu or call me at 942-3841.

And remember Rell Sunn’s words of wisdom: Malama i ke kai - take care of the ocean.


Hawaii charitable organizations may send requests for space in either Proof Positive or the free advertisement below to dchapman@midweek.com.

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