Surfing’s endangered and extinct waves

endangered waves
Kelly Slater, surfing a rare wave at Kirra; photo WSL/Carey

Surfing has a long list of endangered and extinct waves. In a relatively short time we have already lost scores of world-class waves through ill-advised development. Despite the losses, more and more waves are still under threat of extinction. Here’s a look at five waves currently under threat, and five that have already gone.

Endangered waves
Kirra, Queensland, Australia
The sand dredging that produced the Superbank also drowned the world-renowned barrels of Kirra in meters of sand. A campaign called Bring Back Kirra aims now to restore the wave to its former glory.

airport rights
The wave breaks in the bay adjacent to the runway. Any expansion could have disastrous effects. Photo Google Earth

Airport Rights, Wellington, New Zealand
The legendary big-wave spot located next to the airport in Lyall Bay is under threat due to a proposed airport extension. The Surfbreak Protection Society is fighting for the wave, exactly 100 years after the legendary Duke Kahanamoku first surfed Lyall Bay and introduced the sport to the country.

Crab Island and Doolan’s Point, Ireland
The two iconic waves on the west coast of Ireland have been threatened by a proposal to expand the length of a ferry pier, which services the nearby Aran Isles. A local campaign has been set up to try to save the waves.

Punta Colarada
The beach under threat; photo by Save Punta Colorada

Punta Colarada, Oaxaca, Mexico
The famed wedgey barrels of Punta Colarada, near Oaxaca in Mexico, are under threat due to a proposed commercial fishing marina. Given the previous history of Mexico’s disappearing waves (see below) its no wonder the locals are fighting hard to preserve the wave.

Chile’s Maule and Bio Bio regions
Not so much a single wave, but a 60-mile swath of pristine coastline and great waves that are under threat from a proposed new coal-fired power station, among other developments. The Maule Itata Coastkeeper is the leading coastal advocate aiming to protect the coast.

Bastian Point
Bastion Point in 2013. Photo by Save Bastion Point

Extinct Waves
Bastian Point, Australia (2014)
The most recently extinct wave, Bastian Point in Victoria, Australia, was destroyed when a large-scale breakwater and boat ramp development was finished in 2014, despite a 10-year fight by locals.

Ponta Delgada, Madeira (2005)
When a jetty was built to protect a newly constructed saltwater swimming pool adjacent to the left-hand point break located in Madeira, a world-class wave was destroyed in the process.

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Harry’s Baja, Mexico (2005)
The famed big-wave spot was destroyed only a few years after it was discovered in 2003 when Sempra-Shell built a liquefied natural gas terminal over the break on the Costa Azul. Above, its discoverer, Jason Murray, films its destruction.

Petacalco, Mexico, (1975)
Still mourned 40 years after its death, Petacalco was a perfect A-frame barrel at Rio Balsas, Mexico, that was lost when a steel mill and its associated jetties, harbors, and hydroelectric dam killed the wave.

Killer Dana
The harbor at Dana Point blocking waves in 2014. This would have been an epic day at Killer Dana. Photo Ryan Divel/Historic Dana Point Surf Break

Killer Dana, California, 1966
Still the poster wave for extinct breaks, Killer Dana was the ultimate longboarding wave for Californians, until a recreational harbor was built right in the middle of the wave and consigned it to being a lesson for the future. It’s one that clearly hasn’t been heeded.

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