"Almost every surfer can relate to having their hearts jump in their throats when a big gray fin breaks the surface only feet away, and how that fear turns instantly to relief and gratitude once they discover that fin belongs to a friendly and often playful dolphin."
Those words resonate with even the most inexperienced of surfers as Dave Rastovich's melodic voice washes over a pod of dolphins leaping through the swell during a scene from Minds in the Water. Five years in the making, the new documentary from the Australian surfer and activist is spreading awareness about the ongoing plight of whales and dolphins at the hands of whaling nations.
Rastovich–"Rasta"– spent years enjoying what most surfers would consider the ultimate dream: The Billabong star is regarded as a celebrity athlete not tied to the competitive circuit, afforded a lifestyle of endless travel and recreational surf. But his life took on a new purpose when he learned of the brutal mass slaughter of dolphins in the small bays of Taiji, Japan– the same made infamous by The Cove.
"The images of my friends and fellow surfers suffering this fate filled me with horror," Rasta remembers.
Moved by his anger with the dolphin killings, in 2009 Rasta and a group of four surfers, including Surfers for Cetaceans co-founder Howie Cooke, embarked on a six week journey down the Australian coast they called TransparentSea. Afloat on nothing more than tiny sailboats, surfboards and kayaks, the group followed the migration of the Humpback whale while raising awareness of Japanese whaling practices.
Tomorrow the journey begins again: Rasta and a small group of activists will set sail from Santa Barbara to follow the southern migration of the Grey whale along the California coast to the Mexi-Cali border, coming ashore for beach clean-ups, live concerts, art shows and live auctions along the way.
"These opportunities only come by a handful of times in life," Rasta reminds us. "For me...the time has come to paddle out. Like surfing big waves, there's an element of risk and uncertainty, but if you don't go you'll never know."
How to Help
The TransparentSea adventure isn't limited to Rasta and his friends– they need the support of everyone who wants to get involved. Here's how you can contribute to the voyage:
1. Join the team at any of their scheduled stops along the way down the coast and pick up some trash during a beach clean-up. If you've got a board or boat, paddle out to show your support as the team heads back to sea.
2. Become a Surfers for Cetaceans volunteer.
3. Sign the Visual Petition alongside advocates like Kelly Slater, Jack Johnson and hundreds of others.
4. Donate to S4C to help protect our marine friends– any amount helps!
5. Party hardy at any of the scheduled fundraisers along the TransparentSea route. Buy tickets for tomorrow's launch party or next week's stop in L.A.!