Pic ‘o the Week: surfing whales

As photographer J.T. Gray stood on a Hawaiian beach snapping photos of surfers on Oahu’s North Shore, a pod of humpback whales, who had been lurking nearby, unexpectedly joined in the surfing fun. In his words:

“The whales were kinda hanging out about 75-100 yards off the beach at Ehukai then swam outside the lineup at Pipeline and caught the second wave of the set. It was amazing to witness. I am blessed to have been able to capture it.”

copyright J.T. Gray
copyright J.T. Gray


Check out his beautiful photos here on Smugmug and here on Instagram.

Oriana Kalama, founder of Hawaii’s Ocean Defenders, shares these thoughts about these surfing humpbacks:

“In my 25 years of whale watching I have never heard or witnessed humpback whales surfing. We see them very very close to our shores with their calfs. We observe the adult whales teach the young many behaviors. Tail slapping, spy hopping, breaching.. but to me its the first time I heard of whales teaching the youth how to catch a wave. Perhaps they were just enjoying the natural propulsion of the currents as they form waves, perhaps they have been surfing secretly all their lives, who knows. Dolphins are known to surf, and I recently heard of gray whales surfing in the coats of California so why wouldn’t the humpback whales of Hawaii surf too?  After all they are most natives of Hawaii and surfing is in the blood.”









greening surfboards

Many surfers tend to be concerned about our oceans’ health – they spend  a lot of time immersed in their waters, after all.

That their sole piece of sporting equipment – the surfboard – is made of a brew of chemicals, including petroleum-based foam, polyester resins and chemically treated fiberglass, has long been what reporter Mike Anton calls “surfing’s quiet contradiction”.

Anton’s intriguing LA Times article about the state of surfboard production is a good read. As some surfboard shapers try to use more eco-friendly ingredients in surfboard ‘blanks’, debate rages about whether it can really be done.

One venture, San Diego-based Malama Composites, is producing soy-based foam cores. Another, Green Foam Blanks, is recycling the foam core dust for new blanks.

Can it be done? Stay tuned.

Photo courtesy Millzero Photography/Ali Nishan