Global Wave Conference

Surfing ecosystems

Global Wave Conference theme

Surfing habitats consist of not only rideable waves but clean oceans, coral reefs, ecosystem flora and fauna – plankton, kelp, whales, dolphins and much more. They are also dependent on their watersheds or catchment on land, which contributes to the flow of water and natural equilibrium of the surf spot. They are under threat from multiple pressures including the effects of climate change – ocean acidification, sea level rise and ocean warming, marine litter – particularly plastic waste, water pollution from agriculure, sewage and urban run off, shipping waste, coastal and offshore development and dredging, nuclear waste and oil spills.

Environmentally, waves form an integral and essential part of a naturally functioning coastline; interfering with waves could affect the physical, biological, geological and chemical stability of the coast – alter them and the entire ecosystems could be unbalanced.

Wave energy is extremely important for the biology of the ocean.

Near the coast the shoaling and breaking waves drive currents which stir up nutrients essential for feeding coastal life-forms such as barnacles or kelp. For example, certain species of kelp have evolved to live in the breaker zones of areas with consistent, large surf, where the constant flow of water under the surface enables them to absorb nutrients. Interfere with the waves and you interfere with that flow of water, which means the kelp won’t grow properly. If the kelp doesn’t grow properly, a whole range of other life-forms in the coastal ecosystem will be affected.

If you interfere with the waves you will put natural systems out of balance, which will then start to bite back at us. You will almost certainly affect the morphology of the coastline and the life-forms that live there and you might even start to affect the energy balance of the planet.

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