“HAZMAT Surfing” Photos Predict a Poisonous, Dark Future for Our Oceans
When Washington-based photographer Michael Dyrland visited Los Angeles for a shoot, he anticipated surfing the open sea and riding the waves beneath the sunny sky. What he found, he admits, was not what he had hoped; after an evening of heavy rains, he was confined to the shore for days, the ocean contaminated with ten billion gallons of runoff composed of— as the photographer puts it— “sewage, garbage, oil, and shit (literally, human fecal matter).” Had he paddled into the water, Dyrland would have been vulnerable to staph infections, respiratory illness, MRSA, and Hepatitis C.
That fateful autumn trip laid the seeds for what would become HAZMAT Surfing, a series by which the photographer imagines what life might be like twenty or twenty-five years into the future, when our waters become so poisoned that we might only enter them in full biohazard gear. The more he dug into the issue of polluted seas, the more alarmed Dyrland became. He mentions the the Great Pacific garbage patch, a literal island of waste that stretches across the ocean.
According to Michael Dyrland: “I traveled to Los Angeles in October 2014 to take photos for my childhood friend who lives there. I was really looking forward to this trip because I wanted to make the most of it and try my hand at surfing. One night it started raining really hard and being from Bellingham, WA I am used to rain and didn’t think twice about it. When I woke up the following morning, I asked my friend when we could go out and he said “Are you crazy? No one goes in the water after it rains. You could get MRSA, hep C, virus, respiratory infection, etc.” I was shocked. Because it rains so infrequently in LA, all the sewage, garbage, oil, and shit (literally, human fecal matter) runs right down the streets into the sand and the ocean. During a typical rain storm as much as 10 billion gallons of rain runoff enters the ocean.”
“Upon returning to Bellingham, I kept thinking about not being able to go surfing while I was down there. The inability to enter the water for three days was crazy to me so I decided to raise awareness surrounding the decreasing water quality of our oceans. I developed the idea for this photo shoot and called it “HAZMAT Surfing”. I think if we continue with this pollution trend we are in right now, in 25 years people will have to throw on a hazmat suit to go surfing in order to protect themselves from all the contaminates and pollution in the ocean. Ever heard of Garbage Island?”