Keeping our oceans plastic free

BINNING a couple of pieces of rubbish every time you visit a waterway or are outside may seem like a minor act but to a group of ocean advocates it can help make a world of difference.



Environmentalist and Take 3 co-founder Tim Silverwood and his friend, Adrian Midwood of Ocean Ambassadors took part in a mammoth east coast sailing journey of coastal communities from Brisbane to Sydney between January 7 to February 3 to raise awareness about the affects of plastic pollution.

The ocean-minded pair stopped into Forster NSW on Friday (January 24) along with Newcastle yachtsmen Ivan MacFadyen.

Mr MacFadyen’s story attracted international attention when he told The Newcastle Herald of his horrific discovery of a severe absence of marine life and large islands of floating rubbish out to sea during his yacht race between Melbourne and Osaka last year.


After learning about the project, Mr McFadyen and his wife Kari joined Tim and Adrian on their vessel, the S.V Moana in Coffs Harbour on Friday January 17.

When I read Mr McFadyen’s story I personally couldn’t help but be affected by the words on the page. His haunting description of a desolate ocean with no marine life painted a grim reality of what is sadly mankind’s destructiveness.

When Adrian told me Ivan was on the journey with them I couldn’t believe I had the opportunity to speak with him. There were so many questions running through my head.

Despite his article attracting millions of page views, Ivan remains a humble person and is still evidently passionate about the state of the oceans.

There was a lot I wanted to pick his brain about but the real things I wanted to ask him was: so you’ve done this trip and witnessed this, but what now? what are you going to do?

Ivan simply said that if we remain idle about the situation it will only get worse. He plans to help two Australian organisations out who he believes are doing a great job.

“It’s (project) a great start. It might seem insignificant to some but we can only hope that it grows,” Mr Macfadyen said.

“I truly believe I’ve seen into the future and I’ll tell you, it’s bloody grim.

“I don’t want to be negative but I can foretell that if we don’t make change our whole planet will end up that way.

“Because of the article, I got contacted by every environmental organisation in the world who wanted me to get on board with them and the help.

“I couldn’t physically support all of them so I decided to join a few ocean groups because the ocean is a big part of my life.

“I believe what Take 3 are all about so i joined them as well as the NSW Conservation Council because they protect marine sanctuaries.”


I also had the opportunity to speak with Ivan’s wife Kari who explained that she wasn’t always an environmentally engaged person but had become so inclined because of her husband’s influence and his recent trip.

“I was just every joe blow who would throw a ciggarette butt out but now I think ‘Oh my god I’m contributing to all of this’,” Kari explains of the rubbish she picked up during the stopover in Forster.

“I must admit I’ve become a lot more conscious now especially after Ivan’s trip. We helped out a lot with the guys when we stopped in Port Macquarie. I couldn’t believe the amount of rubbish there. It was disappointing.

“Now, when I see little bits of plastic around I am quick to pick them up because it’s the little bits that are obviously inviting for fish and birds.

“That’s where we really need to see the big picture.”

Mr Midwood said the tour was about making people aware of the negative effects of plastic pollution towards our oceans and wildlife and what can happen if we don’t reduce it.

“It is one of the largest problems around at the moment,” he said.

“Our focus is not to make people think the sky is falling were not trying to be negative about it but we can make a conscious choice to fix it.

“If people support products that work with organisations to clean our beaches up it can change the way things are.

“The labels on products a lot of the time are confusing but people need to realise what they are buying and should look to see what organisations are doing the hard work.”

Mr Silverwood believes that if the South Australia container deposit scheme was rolled out across the country it would dramatically change people’s actions.

“I’m very supportive of changes to legislation. We need to introduce a bottle and can refund system like South Australia, everywhere,” he said.

“We need to recognise that if we incentivize people to do the right thing it can work.”

A large group of locals and visitors took part in an hour long clean-up around Tuncurry beach on Friday January 24. People scoured around the rock wall, beach and dunes.DSC_0669

The clean-up resulted in the collection of more than 400 cigarette butts, 45 plastic bottles, more than 100 glass bottles, 50 aluminium cans and over 60 plastic bags.

Groups also collected several amounts of fishing line, bait bags and 45 pieces of disposable cutlery and plastic straws that were mainly found strewn across the rock wall and on the beach. Mr Silverwood said the rubbish collected weighed in at approximately 70kg.

As part of the tour, Mr Midwood also promoted an innovative Japanese technology which converts plastics into oil and was used to fuel their sailing vessel for the trip.

What you can do to help

Three things we shouldn’t be using in order to help the environment:

1. Single-use plastic bags – take reusable bags to the shops instead.

2. Single-use PET plastic bottles – stainless-steel and corn-plastic water bottles are available.

3. Products packaged with polystyrene and styrofoam – there is no viable way to deal with these plastics once they are thrown away.

If you have never read this it will quite possibly change the way you think about oceans and pollution:

The next time you’re at the beach why not take three pieces of rubbish with you. You may think it is a minor act but it all helps in the long run.


The humble mermaid – Elaine Abonal

Ocean-loving beauty, Elaine Abonal is living proof that great things can happen if you set your mind to it.
The inspiring yet humble 29-year-old was born and bred in the Philippines and has been surfing for about 10 years. Elaine was first introduced to the sport when she was 18 and studying in the US.siargao - august 2013
“I pretty much just got obsessed with it and wanted to do it as often as I could,” she said.
“I love everything about the ocean. I love that I feel at home when I’m in it.
“I love that it teaches me things like courage, perseverance, appreciation of the simple things, beauty and how everything in life is connected.”
Elaine has been lucky enough to turn her love of it into one the best jobs around.
With the support from two pioneer surfers from the Philippines, Elaine launched her own surf company early last year.

IMG_3299From years of surfing and staying at the San Juan Surf Resort in La Union, Philippines, Elaine got to know the owner Brian Landrigan and professional surfer Luke Landrigan.
When Elaine told Brian and Luke about her dream to own and operate a surf tour company in the Philippines, they gave their full support and encouraged her to turn it into a reality.
“They’ve seen me spread the word about surfing and bring my friends and friends of friends on surf trips,” Elaine said.
“On one international trip with them, they told me that I could always do surfing for fun but that it’s also something I can do as my own business.
“ They know that I have the resources, support, and talent so I thought about it and realised that they were right.
“They helped me and I told my friends and family about it.
“I feel very lucky and blessed to of had their encouragement.”

?????????????Elaine now operates Surfista Travels Philippines – a surf tour company that helps surfers and travellers from around the world, men and women, arrange trips such as accommodation, transport, surf lessons and more.
Surfistas September 2012 LUFor most people heading to the country to surf, Manila is the starting point to get to surfing destinations like La Union and Baler.
Elaine said despite Manila being a big city with no beach close by,  a lot of Filipino’s have taken up surfing.
“Manila’s not next to a beach with waves so it’s definitely the concrete jungle,” she said.
“But ALOT of people from Manila, especially the younger crowd, are getting into surfing because many have the resources and money to travel to the surf areas.

“We’re still a long way compared to other countries when it comes to surf culture, but it’s getting more popular every year.
“Many of my Surfista trips are mostly made up of girls, which is pretty cool to see.
“Surfing here used to be an underground culture but now it’s the “cool” thing to do. I’d say it’s much mellow and friendlier in the water compared to other countries.
“It’s so much better to surf here – the locals are friendly, the water is warm, the location is beautiful and it’s fun.”
Elaine says she doesn’t want to label herself as anything she just hopes to promote the Philippines as a beautiful destination to the rest of the world and inspire other like-minded women.
“I don’t really want to name myself as anything, but I do want to be an ambassador for surfing in the Philippines and show the rest of the world that we live in a beautiful country with beautiful people,” she said.

“I also want to be an ambassador for women to show that we chicks CAN surf, we CAN travel and that we CAN do whatever we dream to do.”


Carly Chivers – Soul Surfer

Carly Chivers is a 26-year-old surfer and yoga instructor living in Playa Gigante, Nicaragua. Although she was born in landlocked Winnipeg, Carly has been living and surfing in Nicaragua for two years.

733985_10152721566030293_1748052942_nShe currently works as a yoga teacher and a surf guide for the local surf lodge and runs yoga retreats with Papaya Wellness. I caught up with her at the local internet-café to have a smoothie and talk about living the dream in this little costal town.

“I came here on a surf trip. I was planning on living in Costa Rica and teaching yoga for a few months but I started my surfing trip here. Playa Gigante was that place that I’ve always been looking for, it’s still really raw and untouched. Since I got here, I just haven’t been able to leave.”

Carly loves to surf and although she’s softly spoken, she speaks with heartfelt enthusiasm when she talks about her home break. One of her favorite things about her new home is the waves along the stretch of beach known to locals as Playa Amarillo (which means Yellow Beach in Spanish).


“Surfing at Amarillio, is just so beautiful. When I think about all the incredible sunset surfs I’ve had there and paddling around the point in the evening when the water is all lit up with phosphorous. It’s like, ‘where am I’?’ This place is magical.”

Carly learned to surf 6 years ago. Whilst in-between semesters at college. She traveled to Europe where she learnt how to surf on the Algarve coastline in Portugal.


“As soon as I started I fell in love with it. After that I kept traveling south. I stayed on the coast and surfed everyday. I spent a month in Morocco just surfing and experiencing this new passion.”

Growing up in Winnipeg, her college was in a small town 2 hours away.

“It was completely landlocked and in the middle of the prairies. My parents used to take us to the ocean on holiday and I always had this love affair. I would cry when we left.”

Her love affair with the ocean was what inspired her to paddle out for the first time in Portugal.

“I stood up the first wave I ever caught and it was the most incredible thing in the world, I didn’t even stand up for the rest of the day. But I kept trying. There’s nothing else like it.”

These days Carly surfs everyday. Whether she is taking clients on surf trips to the beautiful breaks surrounding Playa Gigante, or just paddling out on her day off she is living her dream of being one with the ocean.

“Ever since I started surfing I’ve felt that it’s a lot like meditation. You’re on the wave and you are literally being moved by nature. You are connected and present. Surfing is a blissful form of meditation – there’s no time for inner struggle during surfing. It’s a totally unique feeling.”


Carly likes to meditate and use her yoga practice to learn more about herself and her place in the world. Surfing  also helps her get in touch with her focus.

“It’s finding those things that offer you that sense of peace and connectedness that is really important.”


It’s no wonder that after attending her first yoga class with her mum at 13, Carly is now a qualified yoga instructor. Together she and her friend India run Papaya Wellness, a yoga, health and wellness retreat in Playa Gigante (you can find out more about it here).


Carly laughs about what her parents think of her living in rural Nicaragua.

“They love it, they are really proud of me because I’ve always had this dream of starting a wellness business and now we are actually doing it. I’m feeling happy and fulfilled and they are happy for me, but they are also like, “Nicaragua?”

After talking with Carly, you get a sense of her huge heart and her passion for health and wellness. She has a beautiful energy and when you take one of her yoga classes you leave feeling refreshed and empowered. She’s not only a positive influence on the town of Gigante, but spreads a great vibe to everyone she meets.

It is with great pleasure that I can announce – Carly is going to be contributing to Ola Niña, giving us health, wellness and surfing tips when she can! Welcome Carly and we can’t wait to spend more time with you. 🙂

If you’d like to find out more about Carly and Papaya Wellness, you can check out their website:

By Carmen Angerer

Getting to know: Tarnea O’Meara

Sunshine Coast shredder Tarnea O’Meara may only be 19 years old but she is already turning heads out in the line up with her mature and impressive style.

The young, blonde bombshell has a passion for the outdoors, but her favourtie things to do are hiking  mountains and surfing solid waves in Australia and exotic destinations overseas. Screen Shot 2013-08-15 at 9.14.29 PM

She’s got a happy-go-lucky attitude and loves nothing more than the coastline she calls home.

Tarnea recently spoke with Ola Nina to explain what it is about surfing she just can’t get enough of….

Q & A with Tarnea

How long have you been surfing for?
Three years

What age did you start?
I started surfing when I was 16. Before that, my dad tried to put me on a board when I was young but I didn’t like it. Now I can’t get enough of it!

What do you love about it?
I love the feeling it gives you, whether you get the best barrel, or make the best turn, you are always stoked for the people you are with or the wave you just got. It’s a sport that changes every day you can never surf the same wave so it keeps you on your toes ready for the next one. It’s also my form of exercise instead of paying for the gym, I’ll go surfing!

Do you have any sponsors at the moment or have you been approached by any?
Right now I am with a small clothing company called Rue Stiic and a health food and information company called Changing Habits. But I am always seeking out sponsors to help me and for me to help them. It’s always nice to have that extra support from them, every little bit counts.

225841_206945842671809_100000691852103_632126_569903_nWhere are your favourite places to surf?
Anywhere where there’s not a crowd but if I had to choose, Durranbah, Canggu, Ulluwatu and home. There is nothing like surfing at home along the coast line like the Noosa Points all the way to Wurtulla.

What board are you riding?
I’m riding Hammo (Dane Hamilton) surfboards right now and I love them. Dane really helps me with my boards and what’s right for me. They range from a 5’5 to 5’7.

Screen Shot 2013-08-15 at 9.15.04 PM

Do you have any other hobbies other than surfing?
Food if that counts, scuba diving, music, dancing (not the class or choreographed type), being weird and snowboarding. If I’m not near a beach, I’m up in the mountains.

Screen Shot 2013-08-12 at 6.02.01 PM

By Lauren White

Surf profile….Alison Bailey

Originally from Victoria, Alison is someone who was very new to the world of surfing until her discovery of the sport two years ago.

A Geelong girl through and through, her love of surfing came to her when she moved further north to the Sunshine Coast in Queensland.

The move into a warmer climate and a popular surf culture inspired Alison to give surfing a go.

“I start surfing two years ago,” she said.

“The first time I surfed was at Noosa Heads while on a lesson with three close friends.

“I was immediately hooked. The adrenaline of paddling to catch a wave and the even bigger high of standing on my fifth attempt was sensational.”

Following on from her first lesson, Alison was so ‘surf hooked’ that she decided to dedicate practicing her surfing skills just about every weekend.

“I eventually purchased my own board (mini mal 7 foot 4),” she said.

“I would then take trips up to Noosa or surf at Alex Headland with friends.”

Looking back on her transition, Alison says her move to the Sunshine Coast has opened her up to new things especially her new found love of surfing.

“I think my favourite time of year to surf would have to be spring, the waters clear and it starts to get warmer,” she said.

“Surfing is a great hobby that I wish I found earlier in my life.”

Some of Alison’s other hobbies include dancing, exercising, eating out, travelling and reading.
Cheers for the interview with Ola Nina Alison and happy surfing 🙂

Kelia Moniz – Female Surfspiration

Who are we following this week? Kelia Moniz is an 18 year old pro surfer from Hawaii. She’s a talented longboarder and shortboarder who makes surfing look fun. She looks like a surfing ballerina.

She’s been competing in world long boarding competitions since she was 14 but that’s not the only reason why we like her. She’s an incredible surfer who wants to be a “positive influence in women’s surfing.” You can check her out on Twitter or you can keep an eye on her Istagram for pretty surf pics.

The first female surfer in Iran

Irishwoman Easkey Britton has made waves, surfing in Iran.

When she climbed onto a surfboard on a beach in Iran, the whole of the local village turned out to watch and I’m sure they were impressed. Easkey is the five time Irish surf champion and is a natural in the water.

“They were just so friendly and so curious – they hadn’t seen surfing before,” she said.

You can see Easkey and her journey in a new documentary about being the first woman to surf in the Islamic country.

Initially, she and filmmaker Marion Poizeau were unsure of their reception in the country.

As they got on with their surfing in the sea close to Chabahar, southern Iran, last September, a police car pulled up and they became more concerned.

But there was no need.

“The police were just checking we were okay. They were worried about the rocks on the beach and whether we knew about them.”

Easkey – named after a famous surf break off the west coast of Ireland – is passionate about the ocean.

“I have been fortunate, I was born into surfing. There is no other experience like it for me,” she explained.

Easkey travelled to southern Iran last September.

“We headed off to this Islamic Republic as two women looking for waves,” she said.

It seemed a little bizarre and they had a few preconceptions that were quickly squashed.

“The moment we landed, people were incredibly welcoming and Iran has an amazing heritage. Yes, as women we had to have our heads covered and it was incredibly hot.”

The other issue was one of respect for the local culture and rules.

“I bought a lycra hijab which had not been designed for the surf. But it covered me,” explained Easkey.

“The water was so hot … but it was certainly no place for bikinis and board surfing.”

Now Easkey wants to bring her love of surfing across the world, to cultures where women do not normally get the opportunity to enjoy the sport

We think this is an awesome achievement and applaud Easkey in her goal to give more women a chance to experience the joy of surfing. We look forward to hearing more about her travels.

Read more about Easkey’s story on the BBC News. Or check out the documentary!

If you have surfed in any unusual places we’d love to hear about them! Send us your stories and pictures. 🙂