Episode Archives

Blog article: Coming Full Circle with Surf Cams

Coming Full Circle with Surf Cams

July 9, 2020

When Surfline first introduced surf cameras on their website I was not into it. Not at all. What were they thinking? Making surf checks possible from the comfort of the couch would pull more people to the ocean and clog the best waves on the best days. Not only in my town of Santa Cruz where it seemed like almost every day more, new surfers were in the lineup, but across the world. 

I even boycotted Surfline and went elsewhere for my wave forecasts. I think it was Wet Sand and then Magic Seaweed. I’ll show Surfline they can’t ruin my local breaks without losing my very valuable eyes on their sponsor advertisements. Yeah, right.

But then one day, there I was at work. Stuck. By checking the buoys, tides, and winds I could imagine what The Lane looked like and could theorize if my most favorite barrel spot, Natural Bridges (NBs), was actually working. But I really couldn’t know because I couldn’t see the surf. And with a couple hours of daylight available when I left work I had to make the right call — go straight to The Lane (save time, more waves) or swing by NBs for a check and then fall back to The Lane if needed (possible barrels, risk fewer waves).

These first world surfing problems can really wear you down 🙂

So you can guess what I did. I caved. I checked the Surfline camera. I gave in to the new world order where any armchair surfer could make a very well informed decision to ‘go’ based on real-time visuals of swell, tide, wind, and crowd. I saw The Lane camera and it looked good. NB’s had/has no camera (fortunately) but The Lane was pumping enough that I knew I could score NBs — and I did. I made the call to go straight there. It’s amazing how a clean barrel or two mid-week makes the work and family life treadmill incredibly more easy to run on. 

And I had Surfline to thank for that.

So I bought in. But not entirely — not yet. I wasn’t willing to give Surfline my hard earned dollars just to get uninterrupted video streams. I would still show them how well I could decide when and where to surf with just a few seconds of their camera streams. Yeah, right.

Sometimes the first world struggle is real, especially when you are too cheap to pay for the premium, uninterrupted video stream forcing your tired hand to click refresh on your browser every 30 seconds. Especially on those long-period south swell days when there are zero waves for 3-4 minutes at a time and you haven’t yet seen a real set go through on the camera. Am I really supposed to refresh like 6-8 times waiting for the next set? 

I guess Surfline doesn’t care about carpal tunnel syndrome of their freemium users. But there I went again. I caved. I signed up for premium membership, devoting $12.99 each month so Surfline would let me view uninterrupted video streams of their surf cameras.

With no refreshing required, I found myself entering a whole new realm of remote (lazy?) surf checking. With the refresh method, I would tire out and close the Surfline browser tab after a few minutes. Who can keep refreshing for that long? But now with no interruptions I was able to keep that browser tab open, even minimized in the corner of my screen, so I could causally glance over any time to see how the crowd was growing, where the swell angle was now hitting the reef, or if the wind bump was tossing it up yet.

It was incredible. Not only could I see my best home breaks, I could watch glassy Pipe go bananas or perfect Snapper Rocks peel off. I could watch waves anywhere in the world. This was so rad. I was in love.

Then the honeymoon phase faded. At home I found myself staring at the video stream more and more while riding my bike down to actually check my local surf less and less. I was becoming super picky about making the decision to surf then ever before based on my remote viewing. This translated into fewer surf sessions for me, and that wasn’t cool. There is something to be said for throwing your board in the car and driving down to the beach for a hands-on surf check — it’s a scientific fact that you are way more likely to actually surf when you’re standing on the beach then sitting on your couch watching camera video 🙂

I found myself becoming way too reliant on the camera (more lazy?) and started to kind of despise it. But that wasn’t fair. I was abusing this great tool and using it in a way that wasn’t healthy for me so I had to adjust and learn to live in harmony with the camera, not in strife (first world problems strike again). So I’ve met myself in the middle on this and now use the camera for a quick check AFTER I look at the buoy readings, tide, and nearshore wind. Once I paint that picture of surf in my head I fire up the camera and almost groundtruth my perception of the waves with a visual look and add in the fourth, very important, crowd factor to my go/no-go decision.

This model helps me stay sharp on the key elements of the ocean that dictate so much of our activity there — swell, tide, wind — while the camera validates my thinking (or not) and let’s me make incremental checks while I wait for some change in the conditions before running out. It’s a nice balance.

And I surf more (again).

So nowadays I default to jumping on the bike or loading up the car to make my surf checks. While the camera shows quite a bit, so many times actually smelling the water, feeling the wind, or seeing the distribution of the crowd first-hand provides a much stronger feel for what the waves have to offer me. I surf more and have fewer surprises when I hit the water than I do from my less frequent camera-only checks. 

In coming full circle, I really like surf cameras again. I use them when appropriate for my local breaks and let them make me feel somewhat connected to exotic waves that I may never get to surf. And like any other ‘habit’, things in moderation seem to work out best 🙂

Blog post on surf cameras
The surf cams can’t give you this view…

Episode 122: Eric Anderson

Eric Anderson -- from US Marine to Northern California freediver and spearo

** Interview episode 122 **

 Today we talk with Eric Anderson who checked out of the military life and into an ocean life here in the waters of Northern California. Eric takes us through his time deployed around the world as a United States Marine to finding his true calling underwater through his wife and family. With a commendable obsession for freediving and spearfishing, Eric takes us through diving California’s Channel Islands, white sharks, to days hunting abalone and pursuing fish of all shapes and sizes along the very epic Big Sur coast. Throughout, Eric provides a great perspective on conservation, limiting your take from the ocean, and dedication to introducing the next generation to the ocean and his own kids find that connection that we all feel. Our conversation begins around one random day where we met each other at a top secret dive spot.

This Ocean Life Podcast Eric Anderson spearfishing

Episode 121: Madison Stewart

Madison Stewart -- life dedicated to saving sharks, helping fishermen convert to ecotourism

**Interview episode 121**

Madison Stewart has been focused on sharks since she was 7 years old. Growing up on the Gold Coast she was attached to the ocean at an early age, scuba diving and traveling the world as a teen ager, spending countless hours in the water with sharks of all kinds.

Today we hear of Madi’s commitment to helping protect sharks in Indonesia by working with local shark fishermen to convert their boats and livelihoods into ecotourism. Her story of gaining trust from a fishing village, bringing them a new, sustainable business, and helping locals develop their own sustainable model is really amazing. The horrors of shark fishing are real and present in Madi’s story in Indonesia and back home where she helped document the 80 year shark culling program ran by the Australian government, now being brought to the public with a new movie, Envoy: Cull (you can hear from both the director and Madi in episode 118 to learn more).

Madi balances the reality of shark fishing with her own unique style and feminine strength in the ocean, which you can see more of on her website www.projecthiu.com and Instagram. For now, sit back and enjoy the stories of this dynamic, young woman making a difference in our natural world.

This Ocean Life Podcast Madison Stewart

Blog article: Simplicity of the handline

Simplicity of the handline

We all have our fetishes for certain ocean equipment. Some are obsessed with their surfboard, others fixate on spear guns or flip-flops, while some feel that a pair of good swim fins are all they need in life. I’m pretty sure I’ve obsessed on all of the above at some point in my past but today my ocean gear of obsessive choice is the handline — fishing line with lure wrapped around some cylindrical device that you hand-over-hand fish with.

The hand-line has been around for a long, long time so by no means do I claim any aspect of its origination. The Polynesians were using bone hook and a plant-fiber line to hand-line back around 300 AD. Tons of other ocean-going civilizations used the hand line to catch their fish all the way up to the commercial cod fishery around Georges Bank of the 1880’s and beyond. The handline has been getting it done for men and women for a 1,700+ years now and there’s no end in sight. Cruisers let out meat lines while they make their sailing passages, subsistence fishing persists today from dugout canoes with the handline, and recreational tuna fisherman will add handlines to their rod / reel troll set-ups.

When you look at fishing in general, technology has changed much of the way we do it today. From electronic depth sounders, satellite imagery of sea surface temperature to composite materials and electric reels, the sport and life of fishing has changed. But not the handline. Not much anyway. 
At its core, the handline is a roll of fishing line with a hook tied at the end. That’s it.

The material used in the handline has changed — I use tuna cord instead of woven plant fiber — but the simple concept of the hand line has not been touched. And that’s what I love most about it — the simplicity.

To use the handline, just unwind your line into the ocean. Jig your bait or lure up and down. Get bit. Then slowly and gently pull up your catch. Repeat. Anybody can use the handline effectively and I’ve seen my kids catch fish with it when use of ‘advanced technology’ rod and reel set-ups were too difficult for their young hands (and minimal patience).

While usage is simple, so is the set-up and maintenance. My current handline is about 80 feet of tuna cord (200lb strength) with 8 feet of 50 lb mono leader attached to a 32 oz water bottle. The bottle is multipurpose as reel, float, and carry case for fishing license, granola bar, and extra lures.

That’s it. Simple.

I use my handline exclusively from my soft top surfboard and compliment it with a small gaff, knife, stringer, and bungee cord. Add in a pair of mesh gardening gloves to protect against fish spines, teeth, and gill rakers and you’ve got yourself a highly mobile and effective fish catching set-up.

What you tie to the end of your handline is of personal preference. I always work with heavy jigs that go straight to the bottom with minimal fuss. Steel and glow diamond jigs are all I use on my Northern California reefs where various species of Rockfish, Lingcod, and Cabezon struggle to resist a bite.

Don’t be fooled though, there is some elegance required to fishing the handline effectively. This includes giving big fish line when they make a run without letting them take it all or tie you in knots. It also requires gentle looping of line coils on your lap or boat as you bring the line back in. Winding the line back onto the water bottle while fighting a fish is tricky and I’ve lost more fish than I care to admit trying this. Instead, coiling your line neatly in a hygenic pile while bringing in a fish will allow you to give line if needed while also allowing you to quickly send your jig back down once you’ve finished fighting your fish.

There are few things more frustrating than having to untangle a rats nest of tuna cord on your lap — it requires full focus but, if you are fishing in a sharky area, tends to distract your mind from the shark attack possibility (silver lining). 

So go build yourself a handline today. Even if it’s a spool of mono line with a swim bait tied to the end — it’s so simple to get in the game. Fish that thing from a dock, boat, rock, surfboard, kayak, or anything and catch a fish like how our ancestors did 1,700 years ago. Only keep what you will eat, throw back what you won’t

Simple 🙂

This Ocean Life Podcast blog -- handlining

Episode 120: Neil Pearlberg

Neil Pearlberg -- Off The Lip Radio Show, chronicling Santa Cruz surfing

** Interview episode 120 **

Neil Pearlberg surfs, SUPs, writes and talks on all things skate and surf. As co-host of Off The Lip Radio Show Neil has been documenting the colorful surfing and skateboard lifestyle of Santa Cruz for over a decade. With over 375 episodes, Off The Lip Radio show shares the stories and perspectives from famous big wave chargers, local shapers, musicians, technologists, and much more. Today, Neil takes us through his days writing for the local newspaper, starting Off The Lip Radio, and being an early adopter of stand up paddle boarding in Santa Cruz. We hear his perspective on the evolution of santa cruz surfing over the last decade, sharing thoughts on the hot bed of talent and crazy characters that Santa Cruz waters have produced. Neil pulls no punches and tells it like it is —I hope you enjoy.


Find more about Off The Lip Radio Show and give a listen — visit https://offthelipradio.com/podcast or find it on all the major podcast platforms. If you like what you hear, I appreciate you following This Ocean Life on your podcast app and/or sharing with a friend. Hope everyone is well and safe. You can find fun stuff on the ThisOceanLife.TV websiteInstagram, Facebook, and Twitter. Host: Josh Pederson, @surfpaddletailgate  

This Ocean Life Podcast Neil Pearlberg

Episode 119: Kara Muzia

Kara Muzia -- So You Want to Be a Marine Biologist podcast, protecting sea turtles of South Florida

** Episode 119 **

In the waters of South Florida, marine biologist and podcaster Kara Muzia splits her time between working to protect sea turtles and sharing stories from other marine biologists. With a strong dedication to helping the next generation understand the wide variety of paths to becoming a marine biologist and the realities of the profession, Kara hosts ’So You Want to Be A Marine Biologist Podcast that provides unique perspectives and stories from others in her profession. Throughout her own career in Marine Biology, Kara has worked across different disciplines and now today focuses on sea turtle research and conservation. On the topic of sensitivity to human impact on beaches by nesting turtles, Kara shares an interesting perspective on what the COVID-19 lockdown has done for sea turtles through less disturbed beaches near her in South Florida. Now Kara rounds out her ocean life with strong dedication to exposing her young family to the water and providing guided nature tours by paddle board around her area. 

 Learn more about Kara and her podcast on her website, Instagram, and Facebook.

Stoked Grom Stories: Max Hart

Stoked Grom Stories: Max Hart -- shredding guitar and waves, spearfishing, fishing

** Stoked Grom Stories #8 **

Max Hart is a 12-year old legend-in-the-making from Sydney’s Gold Coast. With a well rounded set of skills and knowledge in the ocean that includes fishing, surfing, and spearfishing Max is constantly busy enjoying life in the water with friends and family. Competing in state championship paddle races and surf competitions, Max is no stranger to pressure. Playing a leading role in the School of Rock Musical in both South Korea and Australia, totaling over 130 performances, Max rips on the guitar and continues to add this gift to his already impressive set of skills in the water. Max shares the ins and outs of his favorite surf breaks, like Byron Bay and Snapper Rock, talks about his favorite dive spots, and masterfully handles the dreaded lightening round of questions.
This Ocean Life Podcast Max Hart

Episode 118: Envoy: Cull The Movie

Envoy:Cull — documentary film on Australia and 83 years of shark killing

** Interview Episode 118 **

 For over 80 years the Australian Government has supported the killing of sharks along popular Queensland and New South Wales beaches through nets and baited hooks under the guise of public safety. Today we hear the truth behind this senseless ‘culling’ of sharks that not only kills other animals, such as whales, dolphins, and rays, but also has zero proof of positive impact on human safety in the water. Today Andre Borrell, director and producer, with Madison Stewart, shark conservationist and co-star, take us through the history and horrors of the Australian shark culling program and how they have came together with many others to create this amazing movie, Envoy:Cull, that has the sole purpose of ending this 83-year government program. In this we have epic stories of bravery and passion for the ocean, with tales of following an undeniable calling in life that some, like Andre and Madi, are fortunate to realize.

Remember the old saying, ‘If you’re not mad, you’re not paying attention’? Well sometimes there is so little information available on a tragic activity, like shark culling, that there’s almost nothing to pay attention to. That’s exactly why Envoy, is so important — the film is bringing awareness to all of us around the world about shark culling in Australia and is exactly that ‘thing’ that we can pay attention to. So now that we know, how about we do something? Dive deeper at www.envoyfilm.com.au and share the Envoy trailer on Facebook. Also go to https://www.envoyfilm.com.au/ and see how you can get involved. With more people paying attention, more people will be mad, and more people will be willing to do something to make change happen to save sharks. Let’s all be part of that togethe
This Ocean Life Podcast Envoy Cull Film
This Ocean Life Podcast Envoy Cull

Episode 117: Sailing Wildside

Sailing Wildside -- kiteboard adventure trips, Caribbean, Greece, life afloat

** Interview episode 117 **

Today we hear the rad story of two people coming together and building a lifestyle business around their love of the ocean. This story of Steve and Monika takes us from the waters around Turkey where they first bonded over their mutual obsession for kiteboarding, to their time around the Greek Islands, crossing the Atlantic, and into the Caribbean where they are today. We hear about Steve and Monika running their adventure travel business aboard their sailing catamaran, treating guests to the beautiful waters and wind of the Caribbean, and enjoying their own ocean life living afloat. If you’re into kiting, sailing, or just pure freedom on the ocean, you’ll like today’s story from Steve and Monika.


Once we get back to normal life after the COVID-19 pandemic and you’re itching for an adventure on the water, check out what Steve and Monika are up to at SailingWildside.com. Top notch comfort, amazing setting, and great hosts — you won’t go wrong 🙂 

This Ocean Life Podcast Steve Hooker

Episode 116: Francesca Trotman

Francesca Trotman -- protecting waters and wildlife of Mozambique, alternatives to shark finning

** Interview episode 116 **

Francesca Trotman has dedicated her life to preserving the marine life of Mozambique. As a British scholar and marine biologist, Francesca formed a deep connection to the ocean animals in this part of Africa during her university field work and has since planted roots in the country, working with local governments and communities on a number of fronts to help preserve their ocean waters. From setting up marine protected areas to engaging on numerous scientific studies, educating local school children and more, Francesca’s non-profit foundation, Love The Oceans, is her legacy for protecting the ocean in that area of the African continent. Today, we hear her story, filled with inspiration, compassion, and dedication to doing something great for the ocean and another culture outside of her own. 

What I love so much about Francesca’a story today is her dedication to helping an emerging country, Mozambique, figure out how to best preserve and protect their wonderfual ocean waters and the animals that live in them. While these waters may be thousands of miles away from most of us, the whales, sharks, mantas, and dolphins know no boundaries and need all the support and protection that we can give them.


Imagine donating a mere $10 to Love The Oceans today and feeling good about helping to protect these species we’re hearing about in Mozambique, giving them a better chance to thrive in the waters around a developing continent and greatly increasing the chance that our own grandchildren will be able to swim with them in the future. Visit LoveTheOceans.org and see the various ways you can contribute. With Earth Day 2020 happening this week, it makes good sense to to get involved… And check out Francesca’s photography available for purchase on her website https://francescatrotman.co.uk/
This Ocean Life Podcast Francesca Trotman