Your non-surfing friends and family love to bring this one up every time it rains, right? “Don’t get in the ocean for 72 hours.” I’m sorry, but if it’s pumping and my already dirty water which is now a littler dirtier is all that stands between me and a brand new shiny (literally, shiny now) sand bar, then I’m choosing to get barreled. Threats of a new cold be damned.
In all seriousness, the water around Los Angeles County surf spots can be downright gross some days. Not only is it a real problem, but it completely ruins everything a day in the ocean is supposed to be. No one likes dodging random floaties in murky water and paddling around tar balls. And that’s what photographer Michael Dyrland learned firsthand when a trip to Los Angeles was spent on land, thanks to one of the state’s very rare days of rain. He came across sewage, oil, and garbage runoff that kept him out of the water, and he chose to avoid staph infection and hepatitis C, to name a short list of risks.
That trip inspired what turned into HAZMAT Surfing, a project he created in collaboration with The Surfrider Foundation. The idea was to share what life may be like in 20 years when the ocean might be so polluted that we’ll all swap out wetsuits for biohazard gear. So they set off for a day of surfing Venice Beach dressed like extras on the set of the original Outbreak film. The images send a strong message, and are a good reminder that we may all need to be a little more active in keeping our coastal communities clean.
Look for more of Dyrland’s HAZMAT Surfing photos on social media