Surfline: The Rush of Saving Lives

“The ocean and the land owns us — we don’t own it. But if you open up all your senses, the ocean will show you magic… if you just listen.” -Brian Keaulana in Big Wave Guardians

In Pre-Contact Hawaii, Polynesians’ connection to the land and sea was, for lack of a better word, deep. There was no Western-style separation between human and island; people didn’t own land — they were of the land. Thusly, their responsibility, or kuleana, to their homeland was taken very seriously to maintain the fragile balance among these remote island ecosystems.

Perhaps it’s that very sentiment that’s left over from the old days that the near-superhuman lifeguards in Hawaii still practice, as conveyed in the beautiful documentary Big Wave Guardians. The accountability that they feel to the ocean and coast is a serious one, indeed; one that they risk life and limb to uphold. Or maybe, the lifeguards on the North Shore of Oahu are thrill-junkies in their own right, like the rest of the surfers tackling the massive swells. Maybe, it’s a bit of both.


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