eCoast Director and avid surfer, Ed Atkin, has taken on a series of projects concerning the research and development for the sustainable management of surfing resources along with the help of the eCoast team. Ed has been leading the project series part-time over the last couple of years as part of a gratuitous initiative.

The main objective is to continually monitor surf breaks to establish natural baselines to aid in their sustainable management. To effectively manage natural resources, we need to first understand them. Without knowing what is there in the first place, the natural baseline, it is exceedingly difficult, if not impossible, to determine potential impacts from coastal activities.

The team uses machine learning, a form of computer programming which automatically improves with experience, to detect wave break-points and crest locations and track them in both space and time to measure the peel angle, which is one of the most important parameters used to define surfing waves.  We then geo-rectify the image pixels into real-world coordinates so we can project the break-points onto satellite images.

The video below depicts peel angle, one of the most important surf science metrics for wave quality. It tells us about the rate at which the wave is breaking and can be directly related to the level of skill required to surf a wave.

The first project of the series focuses on Waikeri (Manu Bay), a local Whaingaroa (Raglan) surf break and Surf Break of National Significance, situated nearby the eCoast headquarters. Following this, the initiative will be rolled out to all surf breaks monitored by the Aotearoa New Zealand Association for Surfing Research.

We know that surf breaks are valued natural resources that hold economic value, contribute directly to tourism, and provide mental health and well-being benefits. Surf breaks can also be sensitive components of our coastal landscape. From sponsoring local Whaingaroa endeavors and our New Zealand Coastal Society, to providing pro bono technical services to a range of NGO’s and community groups, we believe initiatives such as this surf break monitoring capability are an obligation as kaitiaki and to improve our collective sustainability efforts for the greater good.

Highlighted in our corporate philosophy, “Mohio • Auaha • Tautoko” (Understand • Innovate • Sustain), sustainability is one of eCoast’s core values in which we are committed to exploring sustainable solutions to ensure environmental and social resilience. Overall, these initiatives aim to support continual growth and, in turn, work towards preserving our natural resources for future generations.

If you are interested in hearing more about our sustainable initiatives, please get in touch via the contact us page.