It’s a family-style gathering that celebrates all aspects of the beach.
Ohana Day brought beach-lovers to Seal Beach on Saturday, April 13, an early Earth Day event hosted by the Huntington Beach and Seal Beach Surfrider chapters.
Now in its 12th year, Ohana Day — Ohana, in Hawaiian, translates to “family” — has grown to more than two dozen vendors set up on the sand with environmentally focused messages, drawing upward of 2,000 people through the day.
There were free marine biology lessons from Science 2 U and a booth from the Shark Lab at California State University, Long Beach for people interested in learning about local sea creatures.
Polynesian dancers — including local students and a group from Leisure World — entertained the crowd. In the water, free surf classes and bodyboarding clinics were offered.
Organizers said 265 volunteers, who scoured the sand for debris, picked up 411 pounds of trash.
The filled an entire wheelbarrow full of plastic straws.
“Plastic straws have already been banned in Idaho,” said KC Fockler, the education director for the Huntington/Seal Beach Surfriders. “They’re ahead of us on that curve. Maybe we should get a chapter in Boise. We already have one in Wisconsin.”
Fockler said that Seal Beach water is its worst after heavy rains. “You’re basically swimming in brown crap water,” Fockler said.
Michael Pless, 69, has been surfing since he was 12.
“A sick wave can literally make you sick,” said Pless, who operates M&M Surfing in Seal Beach. “I carry antibiotics with me in my van. This has been the worst winter ever. I’d say that there were 25 percent more days this year that you couldn’t go into the water.”
Rob Strader, a surfing coach from Millikan High School in Long Beach, knows the science behind the threat to the oceans. He was there with his children and mixed a serious day with some fun on the beach.
He picked up and commented on a tiny grain of plastic known as a nurdle. That’s a pellet that serves a raw material for medical plastics.
Nurdles are a biological hazard for a fish and turtles, he said.
Contributing photographer Bill Alkofer contributed to this story.