Unfortunately, this rapid growth in ocean sports participation means increasing safety risks. There's no coincidence that surf injuries + rescues (according to the US Lifesaving Assoc) have increased +260% in a three-year span, nationally.
The statistics for 2020 have not been included in the study due to beach closures during the global pandemic. But lifeguards worry that 2021's numbers will only continue to increase as these problems worsen.
"Surf injuries are the number one medical calls that our lifeguards respond to," says Encinitas Former Chief Lifeguard Larry Giles. Even with beach closures during a portion of 2020, The city of Encinitas still reported a 12 % increase in ocean rescues from 2019-2020.
As the sport and industry continue to expand rapidly, how will communities sustain surfing's limited resources and keep surfers safe not only in the short term but also for generations to come?
Marine safety departments stress that a significant number of surf injury calls, a majority stemming from participants who were new to the sport and collisions between surfers, could be avoided through mass surf safety outreach.
The CORE Project is developing unique public education tools and outreach campaigns and working with officials to combat these issues.
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