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Wednesday, September 28, 2011
Dave Rastovich's fantastic voyage

By Keith Hamm
ESPN.com

TransparentSea AUS performs a protest in Sydney Harbour in 2009.

Pro surfer, filmmaker and activist Dave Rastovich and his crew are gearing up to shove off on a three-week kayak trip along the coast of Southern California to raise awareness about the region's environmental issues.

As part of his TransparentSea campaign, the 31-year-old Billabong-sponsored Australian has recruited scientists, journalists, celebrities, and fellow surfers to join him on Saturday as he puts-in in the water on Santa Barbara's Gaviota Coast and points the bow toward Mexico, with stops in several coastal communities across the 300-mile route.

Along the way, he's teaming up with various environmental groups to shed light on ocean-related issues ranging from water pollution to whales getting run over by cargo ships.

During the Santa Barbara leg, he's pulling hard for the city's Environmental Defense Center. Kristi Birney, the center's marine conservation analyst, told ESPN that the nonprofit environmental law firm recently petitioned the federal government to implement a 10-knot speed limit in the Santa Barbara Channel in an effort to reduce the number of whales that die each year from ship strikes.

A shipping lane frequented by more than 6,000 ships annually, the channel is also part of the migratory path of the California gray whale and the blue whale, the largest animal on earth and a federally listed endangered species.

TransparentSea AUS wins ASB Award for their environmental efforts.

"It just seems sort of absurd that we're not doing everything we can to project these animals," Rastovich says, adding that from the quiet, sea-level vantage point of a kayak, anybody can experience or renew appreciation for the ocean and its wildlife.

With a half dozen kayaks piloted by a rotating guest list, Rastovich and company plan to haul out each afternoon -- after 5-8 hours at sea -- and take over the beach with artists, musicians, and educators, and upload the day's events to transparentseavoyage.com.

"We're not making this too dry or intellectual," says Rastovich, who's now in California screening 'Minds on the Water,' a documentary he helped produce. "We want this to be fun, and we want to have an invite going out to anybody who wants to join us."

Last year, TransparentSea won the Australian Surf Business Surf Industry Award for philanthropy for its 36-day surfing and sailing trip along the continent's east coast to raise awareness about whaling.

The kickoff event for the group's Southern California voyage is on Thursday at the Santa Barbara Maritime Museum.