A Gray ‘Whale of a Problem’: Re-Mediating Dead Wildlife at Trestles

Keywords: whales, landfills, necropolitics, anthropogenic climate change, Trestles

In January 2021, the World Cetacean Alliance named Dana Point in Orange County, California, the first Whale Heritage Site in the United States for meeting criteria that support cetaceans’ cultural, economic, educational, and ecological importance. Gray whales (Eschrichtius robustus) as “sentinels of ecosystem change” are dialed into Orange County’s ecology and co-exist with humans. Sustainable wildlife viewing within the context of tourism means humans are encouraged to watch whales in their “natural” habitat and manage the ocean for future generations. A bleaker image shows unmanageable whale die-offs. During El Niño 2016, seven miles south of Dana Point, the carcass of a gray whale rolled ashore at Trestles, a popular surf spot in San Onofre State Beach. Two questions persist. Is a landfill an ecologically sustainable space to dump dead whales when they disrupt daily flows of beach tourism? And what role might indigenous ecological knowledge play in future dead wildlife re-mediation efforts in coastal communities that value whales economically and culturally? This paper argues that dumping a dead whale into a landfill happens because there are no transparent environmental policies in place that clearly communicate best practices for cities to reduce landfill-bound marine sentinel waste. Eco-ethnography as method is used to locate incoherent logics within sustainability discourse. The analysis reveals an anthropocentric erasure of marine sentinels’ existence and, in effect, indigenous connections to the Acjachemen. The case study underscores an unsettling vision of Trestles’ ecological future and ecosystem functionality, particularly given its proximity to the first U.S. Whale Heritage Site.

Eco-Ethnography and Citizen Science: Lessons From Within

Key words: Coastal management, citizen science, eco-ethnography, increasing diversity in science, public engagement

Citizen science is the participation of non-scientists in the collection of scientific data and other aspects of the scientific process. In this manuscript, we explore what it means to participate in citizen science from two perspectives—that of a researcher designing and facilitating a citizen science project, and that of a citizen scientist volunteering the time and energy required for participation. We examine the methods and goals of the projects, describing the challenges faced by researchers and science volunteers alike as they participate in research processes aimed to increase community involvement in science and, by extension, environmental management issues. We describe how the constraints of citizen science models and methods underscore the importance of incorporating alternative anthropological and ethnographic approaches in coastal research, and offer eco-ethnography as a way for scientists to extend their citizen science projects to better reflect the needs and concerns of local communities impacted by climate change and sea-level rise.
Please contact the author for a full copy of the article.

La Política del Surf: “Me Preocupa el Desarrollo Desmedido”

El SALVADOR — Una entrevista realizada hace cinco años ya reflejaba los desafíos que la costa salvadoreña enfrentaría por la falta de planificación. El turismo ligado al surf ha transformado la vida de miles de habitantes de las playas del país, pero estos sufren las tensiones entre los surfistas locales y los turistas, la privatización de las playas y el temor al deterioro ambiental.
Read: La Política del Surf – Me Preocupa el Desarrollo Desmedido

¿Por Qué Peligra El Turismo? Surfistas y La Privatización del Acceso a Las Playas

EL SALVADOR — Las excelentes olas para el surf son un recurso natural de El Salvador y un atractivo, desde hace décadas, para el turismo. Pero una investigación etnográfica sobre la explotación de la costa muestra que la privatización del acceso a la playa puede matar la gallina de los huevos de oro. Cuando los funcionarios del gobierno salvadoreño firmaron los Acuerdos de Paz en 1992, la comunidad mundial de surfistas prestó atención. Durante 12 años, mientras la guerra civil asolaba El Salvador, el turismo de surf se estancó. Las grandes extensiones de playas de olas vacantes, que atraían a pequeños grupos de surfistas extranjeros en la década de 1960, generalmente estaban ubicadas en zonas que durante la guerra eran consideradas volátiles.
Read: Por Qué Peligra El Turismo – Surfistas y la Privatización del Acceso a Las Playas

Surf Tourism: Social Spatiality in El Tunco and El Sunzal, El Salvador

When Salvadoran government officials signed the Peace Accords in 1992, the global surf community took note. For twelve years, civil war had ravaged the Central American country, leaving nearly 80,000 civilians dead or missing. Once the republic re-emerged as a popular surfing destination, miles of pristine beaches and near-vacant waves were no longer accessible only to the fearless. By the turn of the century, a beach town nicknamed El Tunco became a refuge where waves beckoned the war-weary. Between 1993 and 2009, El Salvador attracted an estimated 12.5 million tourists, many of them in search of surf. El Tunco’s evolution into a wavetopia raises several issues that warrant attention. This paper examines how the global surf industry affects EI Tunco’s economic and cultural landscape. Grounds for the study concern tourism, property rights, capital investment, and the aftermath of neoliberal reforms. Ethnographic and field research conducted in August 2010 indicates property values in El Tunco have nearly tripled since 2005. Matters pertaining to land ownership and beach access also have aggravated social tensions. One central argument emerges: Surf tourism serves as a key sector in a depressed Salvadoran economy wherever waves are in demand. Published scholarly analyses dissecting the influence of the global surf industry on specific Central American countries are either undeveloped or nonexistent. The qualitative data presented should fuel discussions and promote more awareness among individuals who recognize surfing as a globalized lifestyle, sport and business.
Keywords: EI Salvador, EI Tunco, El Sunzal, Surf, Tourism, Neoliberalism, Property Rights, Civil War, Travel, Waves, Spatiality
Please see: Surf Tourism – Social Spatiality in El Tunco and El Sunzal, El Salvador.

Soul Surfing in Costa Rica: A Tenderfoot’s Ride

Sometimes when I close my eyes, I remember how it feels to soul surf. In fact, I even remember the first time my spirit found freedom in the balmy waters of Costa Rica. It happened July 17, 2002, about 45 miles north of Tamarindo, a coastal town in the province of Guanacaste that has exploded into a mecca of yachts, tourists, and pricey condos.
Read: Soul Surfing in Costa Rica – A Tenderfoot’s Ride from Arizona State University’s Cronkite-Zine, Fall 2003