Extinct Waves: Surf spots destroyed by Man
Words by Morgan Williamson
Somewhere between mankind’s pesticides, landfills, fossil fuels, toxic gas and dry-mouth’s thirst for affluent-quench we've done a fine job of ruining a few good things. As we sit back and let the giant pandas, elephants and rhinos approach extinction, we reflect on a few waves of the past. Waves of a different day, before coastal over-development, before the harbours, break waters and dredging of sand. These are the spots we miss, or never knew. “Tourism,” says Taylor Knox, “is winning over any kind of beach rights. At the end of the day it’s all about money.” And with mo’ money you get mo’… you know. So, with this sentiment in mind we raise our glasses to the slop that remains of peeler’s once. It’s a bitter affair, to which we pour out a drink, tip our hats and pay homage.
Harry’s, Northern Baja, Mexico. Extinct 2005 (pictured above).
“There was an absolute gem in Northern Baja” Greg Long tells Stab. “We surfed it for a couple of years, we called it Harry’s.” Harry’s was a long, thick righthander. “It was probably one of the better slabbing waves in North America. It was just up around the corner from Salsipuedes. For five or six years we surfed it regularly.” Greg, his brother Rusty and photographer Jason Murray kept it a secret for years. “Then Shell-Sempra Oil Company built a giant liquid natural gas terminal. As it is with most developments in Baja, there wasn't a lot of foresight given to it.” Once these plans came into play, the cat could no longer sit quietly in the bag. They brought it to the attention of Surfrider and Save the Waves Foundations. Their efforts were thwarted. “They built this giant, harbour-long processing terminal right on the headland where the wave was,” Greg reminisces. “It went from being the most beautiful, picturesque, pristine, righthand, slabbing pointbreak wave to an industrial monstrosity. The five second long slabbing tubes are no more.”
Killer Dana, Dana Point, California. Extinct 1965.
All that remains of Killer Dana today is legend, a harbour… and Doheny. In it’s heyday Killer Dana was Orange County’s answer to Rincon. A 500-yard pointbreak that handled summer’s biggest south swells. In the 60s they started construction on Dana Point Harbour and by 1965 the once-reeling pointbreak was reduced to nothing. When it gets big, you can still see glimpses of what it once was. The implantation of the harbour not only killed Killer Dana but the whole stretch of surf in the northern part of San Clemente. “I remember as a really young kid surfing Beach Road,” Mr. Long tells us. Capo Beach is a spot that no one surfs now, for lack of wave and water quality. “According to some of the older locals it used to be a running sand point, after the Harbour went in, it ceased to exist.”
Bastion Point, VIC, Australia. Extinct 2013.
Bastion Point was one of the best surf spots in Victoria. In 2013, a 130m-long jetty and boat ramp was constructed directly through the break. A decade-long battle featuring the Mallacoota Authorities and the East Gippsland Shire vs. Bastion locals and the Save the Waves foundation proved futile. As in any solid pointbreak, it was divided into sections. On the biggest swells, the righthander would kick off around the point at Broken Boards, connect to The Point and on through to the beach. But a jetty was born, and a wave was lost.
And now, here's some spots that are currently and wildly endangered:
Mundaka, Basque Country, Spain. Endangered.
In 2004 Mundaka disappeared after a huge dredging project took 300,000 cubic meters of sand from the Oka River Mouth. Like a bear in winter, the wave went into a deep snooze. Then, nature corrected itself, sand was returned to its rightful home and Mundaka awoke from hibernation. Now, local authorities are dredging the Oka River mouth once again, with intentions of rebuilding Laida Beach, a big beach for tourism that generates serious cash flow for the local community. If the dredging continues, which it will, Mundaka will once again fall into a deep sleep, with the potential to never arise again. A wave that Tom Curren once called one of “the best waves in the world” will be a distant memory.
Tamarack, Carlsbad, CA. Endangered.
Tamarack is flickering out like Michael J. Fox at the end of Back to the Future, sometime before Johnny B. Goode. “Growing up it was a fun wave, especially on the South Swell,” say Taylor. “Now there’s nothing, they’ve put so much sand on the beach that it’s like a swimming pool. Waves just lap up against the sand and don’t break right.” Last year the city of Carlsbad implemented a dredging project that would take place from mid-November 2014 to spring 2015. “All the reef is covered in sand. It was never an epic wave by any stretch of the imagination, but it was always a fun wave.” The sand’s being dredged from Agua Hedionda Lagoon. Last time it was dredged late 2010 to early 2011. “There’s 40 feet of beach now that wasn’t there before. They filled it up with sand and the wave just doesn’t exist. It’s completely different. They started doing it a few years ago, but two years ago they really started dumping a lot of sand.” The lagoon has been regularly dredged since 1954. “I haven’t seen it really fun in too long. The wave I grew up on isn’t there anymore. More butts on the beach means more money in town, and unfortunately that’s just how it is.”
Scorpion Bay, Baja Sur, Mexico. Endangered.
Exploration Oceanica and US Partner Odyssey Marine Exploration have been backing a proposal for ‘Don Diego’, a deep ocean phosphate mining project. If implemented, the mining will be permitted just 12 miles from Scorpion Bay. A green light on the proposal would mean a 50-year plan of literal non-stop dredging; 24 hours, 365 days a year. The waves at Scorpion Bay will not be the only thing affected at the hands of this project. The entire ecosystem would be threatened and as a result the coastal communities of Baja Sur would suffer.
For more information on endangered ways and how you can help visit savethewaves.org.