To What Extent Surfing Communities Engage In Ecological Action That Respond To 21st Century Environmental Problems?

This essay sample was donated by a student to help the academic community. Papers provided by EduBirdie writers usually outdo students' samples.

Cite this essay cite-image


Coastal ecosystems are areas where the land and water meet creating a distinct structural and diverse environment. Unfortunately, coastal ecosystems are highly sensitive to changes in the surrounding environment, causing concern that some areas will now struggle to maintain biodiversity due to human activity, and other factors (Council 2015). One major ecosystem present along Australia’s coastline is the Great Australian Bight. The Great Australian Bight is very well-known globally due to its abundance of unique marine life and great surfing spots. More than 85% of species that live in this stretch of coastline are not found anywhere else in the world. Unfortunately, the Great Australian Bight is also known for having the largest untapped oil reserves in Australia, according to Norwegian energy company Equinor. This company has proposed to drill a deep-water oil well 370km offshore to a depth of more than two kilometres in search of oil (Duffy 2019). Although drilling in the Great Australian Bight has been occurring since the 1960s, it has never gone to a depth as what is proposed by Equinor. This is an important topic in Geography, especially coastal geography, as the impacts of drilling in the Great Australian Bight can be non-reversable. The devastation will cause lasting effects on the reefs, surrounding beaches, surf and close-by communities. The future of our oceans depends on having a greater protection of marine environments; a shift away from fossil fuels and potentially destructive practices like deep sea drilling, and towards clean energy solutions. Australian citizens, specifically South Australian’s have voted against the drilling in the Bight. The outcomes of the drilling may become devasting for Australian coastlines and the surfing reserves in the south-west. This essay will explore the environmental impacts caused by humans, specifically in the Bight and highlight the connection between coastal communities and their surfing reserves. A review of literature focusing on ecology, surf culture, modern issues and general trends will be looked at followed by further analysis of the case study, ‘Big Oil Don’t Surf’ in the Great Australian Bight. Researching this topic is vital for the future of ecological sustainability in Australia to establish a long-lasting, diverse surfing community.

Literature Review


Ecology is a branch of biology that studies the interactions between organisms and their physical environment. (OpenStax 2015). Felix Guattari’s research, ‘The Three Ecologies’ focuses on the three different ecologies that exist in the world and proposes new, interesting ideas relative to these. Guattari states, “Ecology in my sense questions the whole of subjectivity and capitalistic power formations, whose sweeping progress cannot be guaranteed to continue as it has for the last decade” (Guattari 2000, p. ). In presenting a problem of ecological disequilibrium, he is suggesting that we all must move on from the ‘normal’ and break away from repetitiveness to prepare for the best future possible. Guattari uses the three ecologies to confirm his main argument, these include mental, social and physical ecology. Mental ecology draws on the ideas of reinventing the relation of the subject to the body, to phantasm, to the passage of time and to the ‘mysteries’ of life and death. He presents considerations to radically decentre social struggle and ways of coming to one’s own psyche (Guattari 2000, p.34). Social ecology consists of developing new, innovative ways that will modify living as couples or as families. Environmental ecology looks at human intervention and has become extremely reliant on this. Examples of this particular ecology includes the regulation of carbon, machine ecology, creation of new living species etc. Guattari’s work helps to understand ecology in the modern world but also explores how the future can be improved by experimenting with each of the three ecologies and expending our knowledge and resources.

Surf Culture

The article ‘The Sense of Victorious Struggle’: The Eugenic Dynamic in Australian Popular Surf-Culture described the early years of the twentieth century Australia as being the era that surf was discovered as a recreation. There was a distinct appreciation of the eugenic qualities of this activity. The article focused on the open-air recreation, the struggle against the elements and the general ‘health-giving’ physical experiences that surfing brings. However, found that the literature on the history of surf-culture has not recognised the relationship between the developing culture of surfing on Australia beaches (Rodwell 2009). Surf culture is an Australian birthright. Australian’s possess a unique national culture and a huge part of that culture is the ocean and surfing (Surfer 2010). Surf culture represents the environment, conservation and a minimalistic lifestyle. Surfing is extremely dependent on the environment resulting in a large number of interest groups forming to influence the utilization of coastal properties relevant to surfing. Being capable of surfing the best possible waves is dependent on conditions that may change rapidly, given the unpredictable nature of the weather and their effect on the surface of the ocean. The sport of surfing is limited to an ocean coastline with beaches, the culture of that beach often influenced surfers and vice versa.

The beach has always been one of the most privileged sites in Australian culture. Surfers have become one of the most well-known icons of Australian beaches. The relationship with men and surfing plays a major role in Australian surf culture. Men are seen as those straight as steel, austere surfers who dominate Australian waters. The article ‘The Point’: surfing, geography and a sensual life of men and masculinity on the Gold Coast, Australia, unpacks the role feelings and bodies play in how men belong and bond, using the Australian waves as a reference. It can be seen in the article that a male’s masculinity when surfing comes alive. Masculinity is not simply something that is mapped on to bodies, rather it is an attempt to control, rationalise and contain (Evers 2009).

Modern Ecological Problems/ Biggest Issues in Australian Coastal Towns

There are a variety of issues that Australian coastal towns currently experience. Some of these issues include growing populations, increasing infrastructure and global warming. Economic growth results in higher demand for food and natural resources, however, generates new technologies for environmental management. Changes to the climate regimes and rising sea levels associated with global warming will create pressures on both the natural environment and production systems. The biggest pressure will come from the interaction between seal level rise and human settlements. These factors combined will greatly affect coastal ecosystems in Australia (Cork 2011).

Many coastal towns that are located near major metropolitan areas have recently experienced an influx of people in search of scenic, natural settings and a relaxed lifestyle. This form of migration has resulted in environmental and social changes in a number of towns across Australia. Unfortunately, these changes have drastically transformed the unique character that all of these places possess and have affected their attractiveness as coastal communities (Springer 2010).

General Trends (politically swayed?)

Land use in coastal Australia has experienced a large number of major trends. These include:

  • Continuing urban expansion in both capital and major regional coastal cities
  • Continuing expansion of the conservation and Indigenous estates
  • Continuing decline of native forests and an increase in the extent of native forest managed for conservation, many in coastal ranges
  • Changes in flows from rivers into coastal environments, due to increased extraction of water for urban and agricultural use, and to drought
  • Growth of mining developments in the north-west of Australia, increasing coastal recreation
  • Improvements in land management practices, which has reduced flows of sediment and chemicals to the coast (Springer 2010).

The trends set out above express the changes that coastal Australia has undergone in regard to land use. The effects of these have impacted Australian coast lines and the coastal communities and have been somewhat damaging to major surfing reserves.


The Great Australian Bight is one of Australia’s most attractive environments for tourism and living. The Bight holds more marine diversity than the Great Barrier Reef and attracts more than 8 million visitors per year. As this region holds one of the largest untapped oil reserves in Australia, it’s exposure to oil drilling has become one of the biggest concerns for Australian communities located in the south-west. Equinor’s proposed project to begin deep water drilling off shore will create many risks to local fishing and tourism industries that rely on a pristine natural environment and together contribute $10 billion a year to our economy (Duffy 2019).

Save your time!
We can take care of your essay
  • Proper editing and formatting
  • Free revision, title page, and bibliography
  • Flexible prices and money-back guarantee
Place Order

The coastline of the Great Australian Bight extends from Cape Pasley in Western Australia to Cape Catastrophe on the Eyre Peninsula in South Australia. Even a minor accident caused by the drilling offshore surrounding the marine protection zone has the potential to be disastrous to the ecology as a result of strong currents and extreme conditions present in the region (Greenleft 2017).

According to The Conversation, the Great Australian Bight’s environment is wild, with extreme weather bringing storms, strong winds and waves. The geography of this region is very remote, largely unpopulated and lacks the infrastructure to respond quickly and efficiently to an oil spill if one occurred. If an oil spill was to occur, Equinor has proposed that, at best, would take 17 days to respond and worst case being 39 days. The company has predicted the oil spill could even reach from Albany in Western Australia to Port Macquarie in New South Wales. These statistics are devasting for Australian coast lines if this event was to occur (Duffy 2019). Reports from Norwegian regulators, compiled by Greenpeace have revealed that Equinor has had more than 50 safety breaches, including 10 oil leaks, in the last three-and-a-half years (Duffy 2019).

The threats that are posed by allowing oil exploration in the Bight are unacceptable. There is a great potential for catastrophic oil spills and additionally, the potential to fundamentally disrupt this unique marine environment comes from effects of seismic testing, strike risk and noise pollution (Alliance 2017).

If an oil spill was to occur in summer, the oil would have an extremely high chance of impacting the shores of Western Australia. The simulation shown below details the oil contamination that could reach as for as Albany. Under these conditions, the model predicts that within a time span of only four months, the oil would cover an area of approximately 213,000km2 and would have an 80& chance of triggering the closure of fisheries (Alliance 2017). The long-lasting effects from a spill like this will take a massive toll on Australia’s tourism, fishing industries, surfing reserves and its overall appeal worldwide.

Coastal Community Action

The extent in which coastal and surfing communities along the Great Australian Bight engage in useful forms of ecological action include a number of protests, paddle outs, support from the World Surf League and Australian world surfing champions and a wide spread campaign to express the surfing communities’ concerns regarding this issue.

Protesters have been gathering regularly at beaches across the country in a campaign that is backed by some of the greatest names in world surfing. Mick Fanning, Layne Beachley, Steph Gilmore and Sally Fitzgibbons have all put their weight behind the campaign along with the World Surf League and even Australian musicians (Hamblin 2019). Mass demonstrations have seen thousands of protesters paddle out to sea in many different events across Victoria, South Australia, New South Wales and Western Australia in an attempt to spread awareness of the current drilling issue and to express the negative effects these actions will have on the Great Australian Bight and the wider Australia (Hamblin 2019).

A major protest was conducted where hundreds of people gathered on an Adelaide Beach to protect their ocean.

The main concerns of the drilling include the lack of economic benefits for local communities, more fossil fuel investment, weak regulation and the potential for an oil spill causing devastating impacting on the Great Southern Reef.. (reference).

Patagonia have stepped up their ‘Fight For The Bight’ with their latest campaign ‘Big Oil Don’t Surf’. Earlier this year the company lead a petition of surf brands and the SBIA opposing drilling in the Great Australian Bight


  1. Alliance, T. G. A. B., 2017. The Oil Spill Modelling. [Online] Available at: 28 09 2019].
  2. Cork, S., 2011. Coastal Land. [Online] Available at:
  3. Council, T. E. L., 2015. Coastal Areas. [Online] Available at:
  4. Duffy, C. W., 2019. Drilling for oil in the Great Australian Bight would be disastrous for marine life and the local community. [Online] Available at:
  5. Duffy, S., 2019. Drilling for oil in the Great Australian Bight would be disastrous for marine life and the local community. [Online] Available at:
  6. Evers, C., 2009. 'The Point’: surfing, geography and a sensual life of men and masculinity on the Gold Coast, Australia. [Online] Available at:
  7. Greenleft, 2017. Risks of Oil Drilling in Great Australian Bight. [Online] Available at:;dn=792141950859792;res=IELHSS
  8. Hamblin, A., 2019. Drilling the Great Australian Bight: Government says ‘no way’ Equinor – for now. [Online] Available at:
  9. OpenStax, 2015. The Scope of Ecology. [Online] Available at:
  10. Rodwell, G., 2009. The sense of victorious struggle’: The eugenic dynamic in Australian popular surf‐culture, 1900‐50'. [Online] Available at:
  11. Springer, D., 2010. Introduction. In: Green R.J. (eds) Coastal Towns in Transition: Local Perceptions of Landscape Change. [Online] Available at:
  12. Surfer, 2010. AN OPINION: AUSTRALIAN SURF CULTURE RICHER, RIPER THAN US. [Online] Available at:
Make sure you submit a unique essay

Our writers will provide you with an essay sample written from scratch: any topic, any deadline, any instructions.

Cite this paper

To What Extent Surfing Communities Engage In Ecological Action That Respond To 21st Century Environmental Problems? (2022, February 17). Edubirdie. Retrieved April 13, 2024, from
“To What Extent Surfing Communities Engage In Ecological Action That Respond To 21st Century Environmental Problems?” Edubirdie, 17 Feb. 2022,
To What Extent Surfing Communities Engage In Ecological Action That Respond To 21st Century Environmental Problems? [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 13 Apr. 2024].
To What Extent Surfing Communities Engage In Ecological Action That Respond To 21st Century Environmental Problems? [Internet] Edubirdie. 2022 Feb 17 [cited 2024 Apr 13]. Available from:

Join our 150k of happy users

  • Get original paper written according to your instructions
  • Save time for what matters most
Place an order

Fair Use Policy

EduBirdie considers academic integrity to be the essential part of the learning process and does not support any violation of the academic standards. Should you have any questions regarding our Fair Use Policy or become aware of any violations, please do not hesitate to contact us via

Check it out!
search Stuck on your essay?

We are here 24/7 to write your paper in as fast as 3 hours.