San Diego County Chapter


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There are Over 3,300,000 Surfers in the U.S

By simply riding waves, Smartfin surfers are turning wave sets into data sets to inform scientists about the health of our ocean.


The Smartfin is a surfboard fin with sensors that measure multiple properties to inform oceanographic researchers and the general public about ocean health in nearshore ecosystems like the surf zone. Using the data collected with Smartfin, we can better understand ocean health issues and mobilize our communities to take action to combat these problems caused by climate change


As water warms, water molecules expand. This inevitably causes sea levels to rise, which in turn affect the tides, meaning that with warming ocean temperatures, some of our favorite local surf breaks could disappear. Learn more about Sea Level Rise.

Warmer oceans are also bad news for coral reef breaks, which create some of the best surf breaks in the world. At warmer temperatures, corals expel the algae that live in their tissues, which causes them to lose their color or bleach. But algae also provide much of the coral’s nutrients, so when corals bleach they are vulnerable to disease or death. Over time, dead coral reefs erode, taking with them the massive surf breaks we love, like Cloud Break and Pipeline. Learn more about coral bleaching.


Our ocean absorbs over one-quarter of carbon emissions released into the atmosphere and as a result, ocean chemistry is changing. Smartfin engineers are developing additional sensors to record salinity and pH. With these measurements, we can better understand the ways in which climate change is impacting our oceans. Learn more about ocean acidification.

Join the SmartFin Team


If you’d like to participate in the Smartfin program, please sign up for the Smartfin committee by clicking the ‘Join the Team’ link below or visit our events calendar to find out when our next Smartfin committee meeting will be. We welcome surfers and non-surfers alike! Some of the things you could do as a Smartfin member are:

  • Represent Surfrider’s Smartfin committee at community events, beach cleanups, or demo days
  • Give presentations at local schools
  • Surf a Smartfin at your favorite break
  • Talk to your local elected representatives about ocean health issues
  • Plan events or fundraisers to support the Smartfin project


Smartfin is an innovative collaboration with researchers at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, one of the world’s leading institutions for oceanographic research, Lost Bird Project, an environmental arts organization that aims to inspire each of us to engage toward a better relationship with the earth, Surfrider Foundation, a non-profit organization dedicated to the protection and enjoyment of the world’s oceans, waves, and beaches through a powerful activist network, and Futures Fins, the world’s leading surfboard fin manufacturer.