It’s time for my annual rant about people cleaning up after themselves, keeping their rubbish out of the oceans. I’m beating the same drum and knocking the hell out of the same old dead horse.
About two months ago I kayaked solo across the Santa Barbara Channel to Santa Cruz Island. I was to work the next couple of days and if the conditions were decent I was going to paddle out of Ventura the day before to the largest, most diverse island off the California coast.
Wherever I go paddling I’m always cognizant of the amount of trash I might encounter. It’s a huge pet peeve of mine, and admittedly it makes me angry. I realize we are all making an impact on Mother Earth but there is no excuse for dumping trash in the ocean. Unfortunately, the world’s oceans have become the biggest trash heaps.
While paddling I’ll do the best I can to grab as much trash as possible, while wondering what fish, seabirds and marine
mammals are attempting to ingest it. How do we get through to people? It’s so simple but apparently so difficult for folks to keep their trash out of the ocean.
As I approached the oil platforms I was already ticked off. I was filling the hull behind my seat with a mishmash of stuff, but when I paddled past Platform Gail my mood swung around 180 degrees. It was all the splashing that caught my attention, bearing down on my starboard bow. Thousands of common dolphins were torpedoing my way. Instantly goose bumps swept across my body. It felt like they were coming to my rescue because these animals are the Santa Barbara Channel’s best indicator of how healthy this region of the Pacific is. They’re very intelligent and maybe they know something we don’t, so for the rest of the 19 miles I lived off that encounter, pushing me through the shipping lanes to “the Galapagos Islands of the north.”
Chuck Graham is a freelance writer and photographer in Carpinteria, CA. He's also been a beach lifeguard for over 20 years, works as a guide for Channel Islands Outfitters leading kayak tours and backpacking trips at the Channel Islands National Park, and is the editor of DEEP Surf Magazine.