Salton Sea, CA
Ceremonies for the second annual North Shore Xtreme paddle race were filled with spiritual traditions from natives people. The Torres Martinez Desert Cahuilla Indian Bird Singers reminded paddlers about the origins of the land through song.
Then racers joined hands and sang a traditional Hawaiian prayer and blessed a canoe for the Kai Wais, a group of teens from across the valley who are learning about the sea through sport thanks to SEAthletes.
"Once a month we take the kids out onto the most hungry, wonderful young adults you’ve met in your entire life and typically they’re six hours behind a screen and six minutes outside and they’re just hungry to do anything," says Davy Aker, executive director of SEAthletes.
Then paddlers got on their marks and raced around a six mile course through the accidental lake, fitting the race was also started this way.
"This all started on a dare a challenge to prove that the water was safe so what turned out to be a one race idea is now turned into an annual event with two major events, one in February and one in October," says Aker.
Experts warn if the Salton Sea dries up fine particles from the bottom of the lake will cause an ecological disaster.
"The disaster part of it is that it is shrinking so six years ago it was six percent larger so we’ve lost two miles all the way around … that’s where the cause and concern is because we’ve left behind this dry playa and when the wind blows that goes into the air," says Aker.
Alyson Jackson’s family has a long history with the sea, she says she’s noticed the changes, "My dad used to fish here many years ago and run a fishing charter … the dock that he used to launch from now has no water."
To Jackson North Shore Xtreme is more than a race, "That is our way of giving back to be part of events like this that bring awareness and that can be part of making a difference."
And that’s the goal says Aker, "We just create an opportunity for people to nurture the sea by being on it."