Surfers Take Over the White House

Barack Obama is (probably) the only president in history to bodysurf. And there’s video evidence to prove it. As the first POTUS to hail from Hawaii, Obama cultivated his early career amid the 50th state’s sheer natural beauty and, of course, the ocean. As the first POTUS to hail from Hawaii, Obama cultivated his early career amid the 50th state’s sheer natural beauty and, of course, the ocean.

That upbringing and an increased focus on ecological preservation in his second term likely led the president to his latest move in the Pacific Ocean.

Last Friday, Obama announced the expansion of the largest conservation area in the world – the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument – which now spans 582,578 square miles. The area is larger than the land mass of Alaska and lies northwest of the Hawaiian Islands.In honor of the POTUS’s conservation efforts, ocean-dwellers living and working in nearby Hawaii have taken over the official White House Instagram account to display the saltwater splendor of this Pacific region. Renowned North Shore photographer Zak Noyle kicked off the takeover and posted a classic shot of the Banzai Pipeline, along with this message:

“[The ocean] is a part of my everyday life, just as it is for many people of Hawaii who value the ocean each day. It’s a lifestyle in HAWAI’I—the ocean is an extension of us. So, thank you to President Obama and all who have made possible the expansion of Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument to protect this slice of the Pacific Ocean for future generations.”Scientists and environmentalists have long argued for marine protection in the Pacific, and under George W. Bush, the Papahānaumokuākea Monument was first established in 2006. With Obama’s expansion, the area has quadrupled in size. The aim is clear – lighten the human footprint in one of the world’s most biologically diverse sites and preserve the natural setting as best as possible.

But not everyone is happy. Longline fishermen are against the expansion of protected areas as it will hinder their business. With Hawaii consuming three times more seafood than the mainland, the industry and market for fresh-caught fish is huge. And according to National Geographic, Obama’s safeguard expansion will account for an estimated 10 percent loss in Hawaii’s annual fishery catch.

Obama, on the other hand, is motivated by another issue, one removed from decreased fishing zones. The area contains some of the world’s northernmost and strongest coral reefs, which are some of the most feasible to survive an ocean warmed by climate change – something the president has taken a strong position against in his dwindling days in office.

“No nation, not even one as powerful as the United States, is immune from a changing climate,” Obama said in a speech. “This is a hallowed site, and it deserves to be treated that way.”


More stories by Dashel Pierson:

Kaleigh Gilchrist: Pro Surfer, Olympic Gold Medalisty
The Mentawais Just Enacted a ‘Surf Tax’
Air New Zealand Blasted for Surf-Themed Safety Video
How Serious of a Threat Are Crocodiles?
The Best (and Worst) Airlines for Surfers

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