Why I Love Imperial Beach: Photo Essay 1

I’ve lived in Imperial Beach since 1971. It is one of the last cool little blue collar beach towns left in Southern California. And I love the neat little ways in which people brighten up their businesses and our public plazas (courtesy of the Port of San Diego) along the beachfront.  This is what gives our town character and  makes us unique. And it is why  I love my hometown of Imperial Beach.

The Imperial Beach Pier Plaza and a public art project called Surfhenge.

The Imperial Beach Pier Plaza and a public art project called Surfhenge.

Mike Bibbey, the owner of Bibbey's Shell Shop, is awesome--full of energy, passion and creativity.

Mike Bibbey, the owner of Bibbey’s Shell Shop, is awesome–full of energy, passion and creativity.

I am very honored to have helped to provided the information that was used in many of the plaques along the pier. The project honors the history of surfing the Tijuana Sloughs reef.

I am very honored to have helped  provide the information that was used in many of the plaques along the pier. The project honors the history of surfing the Tijuana Sloughs reef.

Bibbey's Shell Shop is an IB landmark and this shark is a favorite photo stop for tourists and locals.

Bibbey’s Shell Shop is an IB landmark and this shark is a favorite photo stop for tourists and locals.

 

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The IB mermaid at Bibbey’s Shell Shop.

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I love Bibbey’s because it is community art that makes people happy.

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The octopus door at Bibbey’s.

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You have to really look close to see all of the details on the mural at Bibbey’s.

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A stunning mural on the side of the building that is the location of IB Yoga–which is one of the many cool little businesses that have opened up in town over the past few years. We need more beautiful art like this around town and we need to continue to support local small businesses benefit the community.

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My Home: The Tijuana Estuary and River Mouth MPA and Imperial Beach

Thanks to Ralph Lee Hopkins for sharing this amazing photo of the Tijuana Estuary, Tijuana River Mouth MPA, Imperial Beach and South San Diego Bay Wildlife Refuge. Ralph is an extraordinary photographer and has done a lot to promote the beauty of Baja California.

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Why Marine Protected Areas Benefit Surfers

Cabrillo MPA in Point Loma, San Diego.

Any North County or southern Baja vet most likely has run into Garth Murphy intensely evaluating surf conditions from shore and gracefully riding the best waves of the season. A California icon who partnered with Mike Doyle and Rusty Miller in their infamous and pioneering Surf Research company, Garth is the author of the epic novel of California, The Indian Lover, and the son of noted fisheries biologist Garth I. Murphy, who was La Jolla’s Scripps Institution of Oceanography‘s first PhD, and a professor at the University of Hawaii.

Garth, who has lived, surfed and advocated for coastal and marine protection in Hawaii, Australia and Baja California, was a member of the California Department of Fish and Game‘s Marine Life Protection Act Initiative (MLPAI) Regional Stakeholder Group.

As a result of that effort a new network of marine protected areas (MPAs) was established in Southern California with reserves at Swami’s, Black’s-Scripps, South La Jolla, Cabrillo-Point Loma and the Tijuana River Mouth. These MPAs conserve key marine ecosystems such as kelp beds, reefs, sea grass beds – the ecological features that provide the foundation for some of our very best waves.

Serge Dedina: Why should surfers care about marine conservation and creating MPAs in Southern California?

Garth Murphy: Because we have 300 wave-rich surf spots to choose from and over a million Southern California surfers average 20 surfs a year – for 20 million yearly immersions in what usually happens to be our ocean’s most bio-diverse coastal marine habitats. The Marine Life Protection Act recognizes traditional surfing as a compatible recreational use of the ocean resource, permitted in protected areas except at mammal haul-outs, bird roosts and estuaries. A network of Marine Protected Areas, by protecting and conserving complete coastal ecosystems and habitat, enhances the biodiversity and abundance of marine life, enriching our experience, while minimizing and controlling potential habitat-destructive human activities, which directly affect us.

Looking toward the San Diego-Scripps MPA and Black’s Beach in La Jolla.

Dedina: Why is preserving marine ecosystems of Southern California so important for surfers?

Murphy: Southern California surfers and marine life share natural coastal ocean habitats of every important class: estuaries and river mouths, beaches and inter-tidal zones, surf grass and eel grass beds on composite reefs like Cardiff; rare cobble reefs like Trestles, Rincon and Malibu; rocky reefs like Windansea and Laguna; submarine canyons like Blacks, and sand bars at Newport and Pacific Beach; as well as man-made habitats like the Piers at Huntington and Imperial Beach, rock jetties like the Wedge and Hollywood by the Sea, and artificial reefs.

As a boon to surfers, thick coastal kelp forest canopies, which shelter the greatest biodiversity of coastal marine species, also protect us from the afternoon winds, refining ocean surface texture and grooming the swells to extend our surfing hours and the carrying capacity of affected surf spots. Habitat-based marine protected areas preserve everything within their boundaries, including our cherished surf spots.

Dedina: What about water quality? Would marine reserves help our efforts to keep beaches free from polluted runoff?

Murphy: Coastal ocean water quality is not just a function of land pollution runoff. Over-exploitation and depletion or collapse of important food web components causes imbalances that degrade marine ecosystems and make the ocean more vulnerable to disease outbreaks and opportunistic invasive species like stinging jellyfish, algae blooms and toxic red tides, diminishing water quality and habitat suitability for marine life and surfers.

On the contrary, robust, bio-diverse marine ecosystems with intact food webs are resilient, resisting and adapting to environmental change and pollution, maintaining water and habitat quality. Estuaries are marine life nurseries, fresh/salt water interfaces that empty into many of our finest surf spots. We absorb that same water through our eyes, ears, nose and mouths on duck-dives and wipeouts. Rebuilding and maintaining bio-diverse estuaries with a full range of marine life creates healthier nurseries, and encourages upstream compliance with pollution regulations. The result is better water quality for all of us.

Dedina: So in the end, how does preserving our marine heritage in Southern California benefit surfers?

Murphy: The California surfing style evolved in a unique marine environment of glassy peeling waves. Stylish surfing and our beach lifestyle have become an important part of California history and culture –and media focus – generating an endless wave of glossy-color surf magazines, surf videos and feature films. The success of the $7-plus billion surfing industry, centered in Southern California, depends on maintaining the high cultural value of the traditional California surfing experience: as exciting, invigorating exercise, as a get-away, as a sport, a meditation, a dance, a family get-together and photo opportunity –enhanced by a vibrantly alive and healthy ocean.

The ocean is Earth’s largest and most accessible enduring wilderness. Regular contact with wilderness is a human, and especially American, cultural value, manifested today in the ocean by the popularity of surfing. A full and abundant spectrum of marine species – from whales to hermit crabs to phytoplankton – is an integral part of our ocean-wilderness experience.

Marine Protected Areas enhance ecosystem awareness by exposing us to a broad diversity of marine life. They encourage monitoring of potential problems and upstream compliance with complementary air and water quality regulations. The positive water quality and life-giving effects of marine protected areas are a valuable gift to the surfers and marine species who share them.

Ocean Water Quality 101: Or Why You Shouldn’t Surf After it Rains

Tijuana River sewage plume.

With the recent storms that dropped more than an inch of rain along the coast in Southern California and more than an inch and a half in the mountains, rivers, gullies, streams and storm drains carried the runoff directly into the Pacific Ocean. Along most of our coast there is a significant risk associated with surfing after it has rained. Paloma Aguirre of WiLDCOAST, a longtime competitive bodyboarder, is working to clean up what is arguably the most polluted stretch of coastline in Southern California, the area around entrance to the Tijuana River just north of the U.S.-Mexico Border.

Paloma Aguirre of WiLDCOAST in the Tijuana River Valley.

However Paloma does not work alone to safeguard our coast. In San Diego she partners with the City of Imperial Beach, City of San Diego, County of San Diego, State of California, and the U.S. EPA, as well as organizations such as San Diego Coastkeeper, Surfrider Foundation-San Diego Chapter, I Love a Clean San Diego, Coastal Environmental Rights Foundation, and Heal the Bay, to stop polluters, clean up beaches and watersheds, and educate the public about how to reduce our ocean pollution footprint.

Patch: It rained more than an inch along the coast over the weekend and an inch and a half in the mountains over the weekend. How does all that rain end up causing water quality problems along the coast?

Urban runoff in the Tijuana River Valley.

Paloma Aguirre: Urban runoff is the number one cause of ocean pollution after a significant rainfall. Impervious surfaces can increase runoff that can contain gasoline, motor oil and other pollutants from roadways and parking lots, as well as fertilizers nd pesticides from lawns.

Patch: Specifically, what illnesses are associated with rain-related runoff in the ocean?

Aguirre: Runoff can cause a large number of illnesses ranging from gastrointestinal infections to ear, eye, and skin infections.

Patch: What should ocean users and especially surfers do to keep themselves healthy during the rainy season in Southern California?

Aguirre: Ocean users and surfers should avoid entering the ocean for at least 72 hours following a rainfall event.

Patch: What are the trouble spots along the coast that surfers should be looking out for in terms of avoiding problem areas?

Aguirre: River mouths, jetties, bays, storm drains or any area where water enters the ocean usually have higher levels of bacteria. The County of San Diego provides current information on beach closures that can be found here.

Sewage pipe in the Tijuana that directs sewage into the Tijuana River Valley.

Patch: What are the consistently most polluted surf spots in San Diego County?

Aguirre: The most impacted beaches in all of San Diego County are Border Field State Park, the Tijuana Sloughs and Imperial Beach due to sewage contaminated water from the Tijuana River. It accounts for 85% of all of San Diego County’s beach closures.

Patch: You’ve been working with researchers at San Diego State University to get a better understanding of the health implications with contact with polluted water along the U.S.-Mexico border. What were the findings? And what did you and WiLDCOAST do to prevent ocean-related illnesses?

Aguirre: The study showed that there is a 1 in 10 chance of contracting Hepatitis A (among many other viral and bacterial infections) when coming in contact with polluted water from the Tijuana River. WiLDCOAST partnered with the Imperial Beach Health Center to provide free Hepatitis A vaccinations to local ocean users. The program is still available to ocean users Please call (619) 429-3733 and ask for a “Hepatitis A Vaccination for Imperial Beach Ocean Users.”  (Available to adults only)

Patch: What are the key things that everyone can do to reduce ocean pollution?

Aguirre: There are many things people can do in their daily lives that can prevent ocean pollution. Reduce the use of chemical fertilizers on lawns and gardens. When it rains it washes out to the ocean. Dispose of chemicals such as motor oils, paint and chemicals adequately to avoid runoff. Avoid leaving pet waste on the street; it can carry bacteria and viruses that can harm human and wildlife health.

Volunteers from YMCA Camp Surf clean up the beach at Border Field State Park.

Patch: There has been a lot of awareness about the plague of plastic and debris in the ocean? What are the sources of the “plastic plague” and specifically what can people do to reduce their impact on the environment.

Aguirre: Disposable plastics are the greatest source of plastic pollution. Plastic bags, straws, bottles, utensils, lids, cups, and so many others offer a small convenience but remain forever. It is important to follow the “4 R’s: in our daily lives to ensure a sustainable future: Refuse, Reduce, Reuse, Recycle.

Patch: You have been working with WiLDCOAST over the past few years to reduce the amount of ocean pollution along the U.S.-Mexico border and reduce the amount of plastic and waste tires flowing into the ocean from the Tijuana River. Talk about the extent of the problem and some of the solutions you have developed?

Cleaning up waste tires in Tijuana.

Aguirre: A recent report estimates that there are currently over 10 million plastic bottles and more than 5,000 ocean-bound waste tires in the Tijuana River Valley and Estuary. The City of Tijuana does not have enough resources to provide sufficient trash collection and sewage collection to unregulated urban developments. Because of the hydrology of the watershed, a lot of uncollected waste washes across the border when it rains. During the recent Tijuana River Action Month we worked to mobilize over 2,600 volunteers on the both sides of the border to clean up over 63,000 pounds of trash. And last week we collaborated with the City of Tijuana to remove 350 waste tires from Los Laureles Canyon before it rained.

Waterman: Dempsey Holder and the Tijuana Sloughs

Dempsey Holder. Photo courtesy of John Elwell.

This is from my Patch.com column of October 5, 2011. This is excerpted from my book, Wild Sea. It originally appeared in Longboard Magazine in the fall of 1993 and helped to inspire the Surhenge Monument at the Imperial Beach Pier.

With the upcoming 8th Annual Dempsey Holder Ocean Festival and Surf Contest (there is still space avaialable so register now!) scheduled for Oct. 16 at the Imperial Beach Pier, I thought it was important to remind readers what a legendary surfer Allen “Dempsey” Holder was.

A California ocean lifeguard and big wave surfer, Dempsey was among the elite club of surfing pioneers that included such men as Don Oakey, Lorrin Harrison, and Pete Peterson who were protype watermen.

I first met Dempsey when I was a kid and got to know him better in 1981, when I became an Imperial Beach lifeguard at the age of seventeen. Retired, Dempsey lived in a huge wooden white house on the beach (appropriately called “The White House”) a couple of doors down from the old Imperial Beach Lifeguard Station at the end of Palm Avenue.

One summer Dempsey cleared out the laundry room and charged me a dollar a day to stay there.

In 1984, I interviewed Dempsey for an oral history project while an undergraduate at UC San Diego. By listening to his stories for hours, I uncovered Dempsey’s remarkable history of athletic prowess and his unique depression-era way of looking at and respecting the ocean.

Surfing a small day at the Sloughs in December 1967. Photo courtesy of Bill Gove.

To gather material on the Sloughs, I spent a summer interviewed surfing pioneers and legends such as Peter Cole, Lorrin Harrison, Flippy Hoffman, Dorian Paskowitz, Ron Drummond, and others who had surfed with Dempsey. I was impressed by their admiration for Dempsey’s surfing skills and ocean prowess. Dempsey, who was a generous and kind man, died in 1997 at the age of 77.

THE IRONMAN

Dorian “Doc” Paskowitz: There are two kinds of surfers. There’s the Buzzy Trent type who surf big waves but aren’t really into walking the nose. Then there’s the Phil Edwards types who are blessed with amazing ability. Their surfing is like ballet. Dempsey was a big wave surfer. A big solid guy. Low-key. Not much for bragging.

Dempsey Holder: Back in West Texas where I was raised there were lots of cowboys, but that didn’t mean too much. The thing that was a real compliment was to be a stockman. That’s like a waterman—somebody that can handle themselves in the water. Emergency come along—you can take care of yourself.

Flippy Hoffman: Dempsey was the guru down there.

John Elwell: Around ’47, ’48, we met a guy named Storm Surf Taylor. He said, “Go down there and see Dempsey if you want to start surfing.” Dempsey was known as the guy who takes off on big waves. He’d been down at the Sloughs since 1939.

John Blankenship: Dempsey was just unbelievable. There wasn’t anybody else for sheer guts. He was the ultimate big wave rider. No fancy moves. He caught the biggest waves and went surfing. The closest guy to Dempsey was Gard Chapin, although Gard never tackled waves as big as Dempsey.

Bobby Goldsmith: Dempsey was an iron man. He was fearless and brave and he had the guts. He took off on anything and could push through anything in any kind of surf.

Chuck Quinn: Dempsey rode the biggest waves back further than anybody.

Buddy Hull: He’d take off even if he only had a 20 percent chance of making it. Dempsey would take off on anything, always deeper than he should have.

Jack “Woody” Eckstrom: I remember him saying, “If you make every wave you’re not calling it close enough.”

Dempsey's lifeguard truck at the Sloughs either in the 1940s or early 1950s.


THE SLOUGHS AND FIRST ENCOUNTERS

Dempsey Holder: In the summer of ’37 I went down to the Sloughs and camped with my family. Well, I saw big waves breaking out at outside shorebreak and went bodysurfing. I never did get out to the outside of it. A big set came and I was still inside of it. Well, I sort of made note of that. Boy, you know surf breaking out that far.

Lorrin “Whitey” Harrison: Back in the early ’40s, I surfed the Sloughs when it was huge. It was all you could do to get out. Really big. We were way the hell out there. Canoe Drummond came down.

Ron “Canoe” Drummond: We pulled out and the surf was probably about twenty feet high or so. I looked out about a mile and there where some tremendously big waves were breaking. I asked if anybody wanted to go out there with me, but nobody did. So I went in my canoe and paddled out there.

Jim “Burrhead” Drever: One time about 1947, I was sleeping in my ’39 convertible right on the beach at Windansea, and I heard these guys pounding on the car. I’d heard about the Sloughs and they were going, so I followed them. It was pretty damn big. This was before I went over to the Hawaiian Islands, and I’d never seen waves that big around here.

Peter Cole: I was out there surfing with Chuck Quinn and Dempsey Holder in the ’50s. The surf was about 15 foot, Hawaiian size. Chuck and Dempsey went out and got stuck in the shorebreak, but I managed to paddle out in the rip. I was out riding the smaller waves, when I heard someone yell, “Outside.” I looked out and all I saw was whitewater everywhere. I lost my board and had to swim in.

Chuck Quinn: We were out there surfing on a big day and Pat Curren lost his board. Pat was frustrated and feeling lousy. He didn’t have any money and it wasn’t like today when they break a board and go buy another one. We all looked for Pat’s board, but that board just disappeared.

Dempsey Holder Ocean Festival and Surf Contest

On October 16th, 2011 WiLDCOAST will hold the 8th Annual Dempsey Holder Ocean Festival and Surf Contest in Imperial Beach, California from 7am-3pm at the Imperial Beach Pier. This annual family friendly charity event has become the largest surf contest in south San Diego County with over 120 competitors in ten different divisions and hundreds of spectators as well as music, prizes and other entertainment.

Proceeds from the event support WiLDCOAST’s efforts to protect the most threatened and ecologically important coastal areas and wildlife in Southern California and Mexico.  Since 2,000 WiLDCOAST has helped to conserve over two million acres of beautiful bays, beaches, islands and lagoons.

In 2011, the Dempsey Holder Ocean Festival and Surf Contest will expand internationally. WiLDCOAST is partnering with the United Athletes of the Pacific Ocean (UAPO), a bi-national non-profit organization whose mission is to provide surfing youths in Mexico and the United States opportunities in competitive surfing and cultural exchange.

Imperial Beach, California The symbol of this ...

Image via Wikipedia

Generous Dempsey sponsors include Billabong, County of San Diego, Pacific Realty, REI, Emerald City the Boarding Source, Oakley, Southwest Airlines, URT, Ocean Minded, The Surfer’s Journal, Pacifica Companies, Alan Cunniff Construction, APS Marine Services and Equipment, Firewire, Matuse, and PAWA. Additionally Cowabunga and Katy’s Café will be providing support and treats for the contestants. Jay Novak of Novak Surf Designs and Brett Bender of Natural Selection Surfboards have shaped boards especially for the junior winners.

Community residents can also sponsor a child for the Dempsey. This helps to provide scholarships for local needy children to participate. Over the past eight years hundreds of children have participated in the Dempsey thanks to the support of community supporters and sponsors.

Registration is still open but filling up fast. The event once again includes the popular menehune division in which every child receives a medal. This year surfers such as Kyle Knox, Sean Malabanan, Keith McCloskey, Sean Fowler, Josh Johnson, and Terry Gillard among others are expected to compete. Heats will be carried out on the south and north sides of the Imperial Beach pier providing maximum shredding and viewing opportunities.

Registration for the Dempsey can be done at http://www.wildcoast.net or email dempsey@wildcoast.net or call 619.423.8665 ext. 200 for more information. For information on sponsoring a child contact Lenise Andrade at 619.423.8665 ext. 201 or via dempsey@wildcoast.net

WiLDCOAST is an international conservation team that conserves coastal and marine ecosystems and wildlife. www.wildcoast.net

Swell Stories

My IB and Coronado Southwest Surf Column from this week.

January was a great month to be a surfer in San Diego. Lots of consistent medium size surf with excellent conditions. Unfortunately I’ve been out of the water with a bad cold and cough for the past 12 days so I have missed some of the cleaner swells. But there have been lots of reports of great sessions up and down the coast and more swell is on the way this week.

“I have been surfing around Sunset Cliffs during the last swell. It was solid 4-6′ and clean,” said Sean Malbanan. “I also scored P.B. Point, 4-8′, perfect rights. Surfed with Josh Hall, Masi of Masi Surfboards and my Dad, Paul Malabanan. I have been riding a 5’10” Lost Rocket, a 6’2″ Channel Island Flyer and my 9’0″ Stewart.”

Zach Plopper has been back and forth between North County, Imperial Beach and Baja. “I had an epic afternoon at San Miguel with only 7 other surfers in the water and a fun morning at Baja Malibu with my WiLDCOAST co-worker Ben McCue,” Zach recounted. “And of course there were plenty of mornings at Boc’s scattered in between.”

There were plenty of days at the Sloughs to be had. Jeff “Spiderman” Knox, who is currently on the North Shore with Kimball Dodds, said, “The Sloughs was at it’s best for over a week in late January. The usual gang rode super lefts and very good rights for days on end. Kelly Krauss was the stand out on his Sloughs SUP. We watched him from First Notch score left after double overhead left in the middle of the reef we traditional surfers could never have tracked down.”

In addition to catching great waves on his own SUP, Kelly experimented with a, “Ugly beast of a windsurf board that was chipped, dinged and dented but basically seaworthy that I found on the beach. It had been sloppily spray painted black and for a fin someone had jammed a 1 foot by 1 foot square piece of 1 inch thick plywood diagonally into the just-back-of-center keel slot.  I decided to try it out and paddled it prone out through the inside whitewater and then went stand up without too much difficulty. After a few minutes I lined up and caught a smaller wave no one really wanted, maybe waist high.  I would love to be able to say I cruised it all the way to the beach but I as I dropped in I got a bit too ambitious and tried a sort of bottom turn. The thing just rolled on me.  I lost it. Obviously there was no leash, and besides, at maybe 30 pounds, the thing would have torn off a leg.”

On Saturday I gave a talk to the Doheny Longboard Surfing Association on the beach at Doheny State Park. Afterward, I picked up the groms who were participating in the annual Coronado Middle and High School Surf teams Church’s/Trestles Camping Trip. I pulled up to the San Onofre parking lot to see beautiful waves lined up from Church’s to Lowers. What a sight.

The groms relax after a hard day surfing.

“We’ve been going on this surf team trip for ten years. Every year seems better than the last,” said Lorton Mitchell. “That stretch of beach is a real gift and the kids seem to really appreciate the treasure. Lots of the surf community shares the resource, but it is generally a pretty fair attitude in the water. We wached Five Summer Stories near the campfire. I don’t know if it was the movie or the three sessions that day put that put the kids to sleep by 8:30.”

“The weather was insane all day Saturday. Lowers in the morning and Uppers till dark,” reported Sharon “Peachy” Alldredge

Ed Pollitt, who teaches Philosophy at West Chester University in New Jersey traveled to Imperial Beach to visit his aunt Leslie McCollum and catch some California surf. According to Ed, “It was nice to be back in Imperial Beach. Despite the pollution, I caught some fast, sectiony rights in the chest to head high range that were breaking off the south side of the pier. I surfed with a fun and friendly group of locals. One afternoon, I lounged on the beach till late, jumping in for a few quick rights just as the sun went down. The water was ablaze in orange and red. I’ll be back soon.”

Israel catches a good one on the north side.

Wild Sea Launch Party

More than 100 people joined me on Saturday (Jan. 29th) for the official Wild Sea launch party. Lots of old friends and members of the San Diego surfing and environmental community joined us at the Tijuana Estuary Visitor’s Center. Thanks to everyone who came and who bought a book!!!!

Mike and Patricia McCoy, my conservation mentors, introduce me.

Wildcoast's Zach Plopper and pro surfer and IB local Kyle Knox. I've surfed with Kyle since he was a wee grom.

IB super groms Josh Johnson, my son Daniel and Loukas Lopez.

Environmental attorney Rory Wicks and me.

Former Wildcoast staffer Mercedes Sironi and my wife Emily Young.

Wild Sea Review: New Book Explores Beach Culture, Conservation in California and Mexico


In “Wild Sea: Eco-Wars and Surf Stories from the Coast of the Californias,”Serge Dedina tells the real-life story of struggles, blockades and the loss of rich biodiverse land in California and the Baja California peninsula.

“Wild Sea” will host a book-launch party at the Tijuana Estuary Training Center Saturday from 6-8 p.m.

Dedina’s passion for the land started as a kid growing up in Imperial Beach, surfing the Tijuana Sloughs. Making his way up and down the coast for most of his life, this book chronicles surf culture, the elimination of native habitats, and the evolution of organized grassroots efforts to preserve what is left of one of the world’s largest and most diverse coastal ecosystems.

It is a journey into Magdalena Bay, the habitat of precious gray whale breeding habitats, sensitive fisheries and the quickly disappearing sea turtle and includes the stories of surfers, birdwatchers, fishermen, scientists, surfers and environmentalists, who all come together for a common cause.

The book gives a shoreline a view of the history of great wave riders and their evolution from surfers to activists.

It’s also a first-hand account of battles won and lost against poachers, politicians, private companies and government agencies.

Dedina holds nothing back in his judgment of bureaucratic and corporate interests that he believes can pose a threat to these habitats as they search for fossil fuels or mega tourism hotspots. He documents the damage done and pleas for global community involvement.

With strong conviction, Dedina takes a look at problems the region faces today and the decades-long struggle to fight river and ocean pollution from both sides of the border.

Dedina became a co-founder and Executive Director of WiLDCOAST in 2000. Collaborating with Mexico’s government officials, biological specialists and environmental groups, WiLDCOAST expanded its vision in Mexico, creating Costasalvaje in Ensenada. Globally his organization and its partners fight together to protect what is left of the wild sea.

“Wild Sea” is a fantastic read for all ages.

Shark Attack at the Tijuana Sloughs

Dempsey Holder. Photo: Ramos

An excerpt from my book Wild Sea: Eco-Wars and Surf Stories from the Coast of the Californias.

For those of you who think that it is difficult to surf in our modern wetsuits, with leashes and lightweight boards, just remember that Dempsey and his hardcore crew of IB, Nado and La Jolla locals were surfing the Sloughs back in the 1940s and 50s on redwood surfboards with no wetsuits.

Dempsey Holder: We had an El Niño kind of condition during the summer of 1950. The water was really warm and there was a south swell — southern hemisphere swell. Made for some beautiful surfing.

Dr. Cark Hubbs, Scripps Institution of Oceanography: An unusual number of sharks have appeared in our waters as a result of prolonged southern winds.

Dempsey Holder: Bob Campbell, Jim Lathers, Dave Hafferly and I went down to the Sloughs. Bob and Dave were bodysurfing. Jim had an air mat he wanted to try out there and I took out my surfboard. I was the first one out. The other guys were real slow in coming out. They were at least fifty yards behind me.

All of a sudden I heard Bob Campbell holler something. Then Jim Lather hollered “Shark!” Bob hollered “Shark!”

He had a real frightened tone in his voice. I was sitting there on my board thinking that he had come out here for the first time in deep water.

He saw a porpoise go by and just panicked. “Boy,” I thought, “He’s going to be embarrassed. He really hollered.” Jim hollered at me again. It was a shark. I went over there but I didn’t see the shark. There was blood in the water and Bob grabbed Jim’s air mat.

San Diego Union—October 9, 1950: A man-eating shark tore a chunk out of the thigh of a 31-year-old swimmer off Imperial Beach yesterday morning in what may be the first shark attack ever reported in local waters.

Dempsey Holder: I put the board right underneath him and took him in. Got bit. I’m sure he pulled his legs up. He had marks on his hands. He said it got him twice. Jim Lather saw it. He said it looked like two fins and then it rolled over. We didn’t take long. Everybody was on shore. I took him on my board. He was bleeding from his legs. We took him to see Doc Hayes. He had a little office in the VFW. Bob looked kind of weak. He had that gray look. That shark must have taken a chunk of his leg the size of a small steak.

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