Minds in the Water : A Surfer's Journey From Apathy to Activism

2012-04-05-MITW.jpg More than five years in the making, Minds In The Water documents professional surfer Dave Rastovich and friends' quest to protect dolphins, whales and their ocean environment. Filmed throughout Australia, the Galapagos, Chile, Tonga, California and Japan, director Justin Krumb captures the evolution of one individual's personal mission to protect this sacred liquid arena and the native inhabitants that reside within.

The pivotal moment arose for Rastovich, known simply in the surfing world as "Rasta," while he was surfing his home break off the Gold Coast in Australia and was aided by a dolphin that fended off a tiger shark that, according to Rasta, "had his fins down and was in the zone." Shortly after the close encounter, and upon learning about the tens of thousands of dolphins brutally slaughtered off the coastal waters in Japan each year and the illegal killing of larger whales in the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary, Rasta launched a campaign to help stop the worldwide commercial slaughter of dolphins and whales. A soul surfer at heart with a profound nature of a peaceful warrior, Rasta intuitively knew that the time for action had come.

After meeting with lifelong eo-crusaders Captain Paul Waston of The Sea Shepherd Conservation Society and Richard O'Barry of Save Japan Dolphins at the International Whaling Commission meeting in Anchorage, Alaska, Rasta quickly moved forward in recruiting a core team of filmmakers, journalists, musicians, eco-activists and celebrity surfers. He embarked upon the steadfast journey that has led him to be one of the most outspoken and recognized environmentalists in the surfing world today.

Photo Courtesy: Ted Grambeau

I was fortunate to meet Rasta and lifelong cetacean activist and artist Howie Cooke, both co-founders of Surfers For Cetaceans, at The 2007 Sea Shepherd Conservation Society's 30th Anniversary in Santa Monica, only weeks prior to their upcoming covert mission to Taiji, Japan in order to raise mainstream awareness about the dolphin slaughters that claim more than 20,000 cetacean lives annually. Without hesitation I jumped on board (literally speaking) to take part in a surfing paddle-out ceremony that took the small coastal village by surprise and make international media headlines. Combined with celebrity support from Isabel Lucas, Hayden Panetierre and other notable surfing icons and activists, our collective actions in Taiji helped pave the way for Rasta's vision and message to reach the critical masses as well as become featured scenes in both Minds In The Water and the Academy Award winning film The Cove.

Photo Courtesy: Hilton Dawe

Minds in the Water is an epic tale of one man's transformation from apathy to activism that is both beautifully and brilliantly directed and narrated by Justin Krumb and written by longtime Surfer magazine editor Steve Barliotti. The film emphasizes the duty of each individual to take a stand and is an empowering effort for all concerned citizens to become involved in the protection of the world's oceans. According to Surfers For Cetaceans ambassador and pro-surfer Chris Del Moro, who joined the crew in a sailing mission down the coast of Australia to raise awareness about plastic pollution and the threats facing migrating humpback whales, "The global collective of surfers and human beings and groups around the world can really step up and aid in this whole process. It's not just about Dave, it's about everyone."

Minds in the Water is currently screening throughout Europe, Australia and the U.S. The film was selected as the opening night feature for the 2011 Artivist Film Festival in Hollywood, where The Humane Society of the United States served as the presenting sponsor. HSUS experts joined the filmmakers for a Q&A after the screening to discuss the plight of marine mammals. The documentary continues to screen at universities, beach communities, and film festivals around the world and recently won the Environmental Film of The Year Award at the Byron Bay Film Festival.

According to Rasta:

"I watch Minds in The Water and get fired up to do something, anything to reach for being a better human that cares more for this world and all the animals that share it with us. The film is successful in motivating me into action and I can only wish that it has the same effect on everyone else who sees the it. As ocean people, it is our privelege to be the custodians of our coastlines. The film documents our attempt at fulfilling that role as we travelled to surfing locations around the world. Cetaceans are the ultimate, and original surfers. They are our ocean kin and it is our role to do what we can to protect their well being."

Photo Courtesy: Hilton Dawe

Please be sure to check out the trailer here and take action by joining the Visual Petition. For more information on Rasta's on-going campaigns to protect the world's oceans, please visit Surfers For Cetaceans and Minds In The Water.