Soundings: Season 5 Episode 4

Cliff Kapono

On the power of science, his journey through higher education, Kaiser Bowls, environmental activism, navigating social hierarchies in Hawaii, and traditional surf craft.

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A molecular scientist with a PhD in marine conservation and sustainability from UC San Diego, Cliff Kapono devotes himself to putting his two greatest passions—science and surfing—into productive conversation. For Kapono, a Native Hawaiian from the Big Island, surfing necessitates meaningful, intimate care for one’s environment and is a practice deeply embedded in the familial and social histories that informed his upbringing. Kapono currently serves as an ambassador for the Save the Waves Coalition, a nonprofit that protects surf ecosystems globally, and his environmental activism and study ranges from microbiome dynamics to coral health. In this episode, Kapono talks with show host Jamie Brisick about surfing as a means of combating trauma, finding one’s identity, sublime connection, high-performance surf zones, commodification of the sacred, the nuances of inclusivity, and growing up in Hawaii.   

Produced by Jonathan Shifflett.
Music by PazKa (Aska Matsumiya & Paz Lenchantin).

Feature image by Todd Glaser.