COCOA BEACH, Fla. – One of Florida’s most iconic spots to surf has also been ranked as one of the most threatened due to rising sea levels, according to a national study by the Surfrider Foundation.
The foundation, which describes itself as “a community of everyday people who passionately protect our playground – the ocean, waves, and beaches,” ranked the top ten surf spots around the nation they feel are in danger of losing the waves that often fuel tourist economies.
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“I still feel like a kid when I go out every day,” Matt LeFleur said.
The Cocoa Beach resident said surfing is one of his passions.
“I grew up at the beach, and it’s just a big part of me,” he said. “I always get excited.”
It’s the same for John Hearin.
“As long as I’m able to surf them, I’ll be out here,” he said.
The Surfrider Foundation estimates the waves off Cocoa Beach that helped make hometown hero Kelly Slater a world champion now face a significant challenge – rising sea levels.
According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration – or NOAA – Cocoa Beach could see the seas rise as much as one foot over the next 20 years.
The estimates show they could rise as much as four feet by 2100.
The foundation ranked Cocoa Beach as the fourth most threatened surf area in the nation:
HAWAIʻI—THE NORTH SHORE, OʻAHU
NORTH CAROLINA—CAROLINA BEACH
PUERTO RICO—TRES PALMAS
NEW YORK—THE ROCKAWAYS
Hearin helps lead the Surfrider Space Coast chapter.
“The nature of the beach is going to change,” he said. “It’s going to get flat. You’re not going to have the same sandbars, and the wave breaks on the sandbars. So, it would affect how the sandbars form, and eventually, how the waves break here in Cocoa Beach.”
Hearin said his volunteers have been working hard to stop the ocean from eating away at the beach.