HAZMAT Surfing Photos Raise Awareness of Contaminated Oceans

HAZMAT Surfing Photos Raise Awareness of Contaminated Oceans
Michael Dyrland is a photographer based out of Washington. On a trip to Los Angeles for a shoot, Michael was hoping to score some classic California days and get into the ocean for some epic surf. The conditions Michael encountered were not exactly what he had hoped for, following and evening of heavy rainfall, he was confined to the beach for several days because the ocean was contaminated with ten billion gallons of run off. As Michael puts it, the contamination was composed of “sewage, garbage, oil, and shit (literally, human fecal matter).” Michael made the decision not to paddle out to avoid being vulnerable to staph infections, respiratory illness, MRSA and Hepatitis C.
 
While Michael may not have made it into the water these days, he was inspired. The trip gave root to what would become HAZMAT Surfing, a photographic series shot by Michael Dyrland and Mike Marshall, which imagines what life might be like in twenty or twenty-five years, when our waters have become so polluted that they could only be entered wearing full biohazard gear. 
 
Dyrland teamed up with the Surfrider Foundation, a non-profit which is devoted to protecting our beaches and oceans. He chose Venice beach as a location for the shoot because of its world-wide relevance to surfing and the surf community. Dyrland, needed not only permission from the authorities to stage and shoot but also participation from the lifeguards to arrange the shoot. He also reminds us that “There are many spots in the ocean that are worse off than Los Angeles,” and hopes to expand the the HAZMAT surfing project to beaches around the globe. 
 
 
Dyrland has appreciated our relationship with the sea throughout his life and enjoys seafood and swimming. “The truth is, it’s only getting worse,” says Dyrland and finds himself returning to the plant and animal life which call the ocean home and the people who are ingesting the contaminated sea life. So far, Dyrland has funded the project on his own and says that it is his passion for conservation that drives the project forward. “We just need to address the current issues and work together toward improving ocean pollution,”.
 
 
Growing up near the ocean, I personally owe so much of my experience in photography to the sea. While I haven’t seen contamination as bad as it is in LA, I agree with Dyrland’s concern and truly believe that the issues need to be addressed. Being an avid surfer and surf photographer, I enjoy these photographs but love the message behind them. Big thanks to Dyrland and everyone involved in his HAZMAT Surfing project for their efforts to spread awareness about the contamination of our oceans. If you are interested in finding out more about HAZMAT Surfing you can check out Dyrland Productions or view his work on Facebook.
 
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7 Comments

Gotta be honest... I'm actually a bit floored the beach allowed it. From a PR standpoint, not every county and tourist destination wants their location photographed showing people in hazmat suits, even if the purpose is to save the beach.

That being said, I love it!

michael andrew's picture

Have you ever been to Venice, no joke you could not stop the hundreds of thousands of people from being there if you told them it was plagued with ebola. Perhaps the most crowded beach on earth.

michael andrew's picture

Yeah, you are right about the water/sand area. I was including the worlds craziest boardwalk.

The one time I was there was extremely brief but I didn't see nearly the number of people on the actual beach as we get in Florida. Some Florida beaches get so crowded it's just unbearable.

The regulating authorities of the beach, whoever that may be. It's really semantics. I deal with building permits for a living and while the building department may issue various permits, we still refer to them as "the city" or "the county" or even "the state". Every state, county, and city regulates their beaches differently. I'm a lifelong Florida resident :)

michael andrew's picture

I surfed every day of those rains. It was gross but the waves were really good, it was timed with a hurricane swell. I can't condone surfing during the rains in So-Cal, it is pretty bad.

If you take some hydrogen peroxide, rubbing alcohol with you and flush out your nose ears and mouth after each surf your helping your chances of not getting sick.

Kyle Medina's picture

A river in Colorado just got contaminated by water that was trapped in an old mine. This was outside Durango, CO. It turned the water orange. Photo from CNN. http://www.cnn.com/2015/08/09/us/colorado-epa-mine-river-spill/