Three days ago, ‘female Indiana Jones’ Alison Teal of Hawaii uploaded a video in which she paddled up to an erupting volcano and tried to surf near the active flow.
She didn’t catch a wave, despite her best efforts, and the guidance, support and prayer of Hawaiian elders, who blessed her endeavour, according to the 30 year-old adventurer’s Instagram account. She did manage to catch some jaw-dropping footage though, and, just as notably, some raised eyebrows online and from Hawaiian state officials.
This brings us to an interesting discussion: just where is the line with extreme sports and the sometimes subtle difference between conservation and self promotion? We’ve seen this before, be it cageless shark diving or BASE jumping, and a thousand things between. So here’s the question. Did Alison Teal stay on this side of what’s acceptable?
Alison Teal Strives For Education Through Entertainment
A little background for you to frame the video. Alison Teal is a Hawaiian native. She lives on the big island and operates a blog called Alison’s Adventures, which document her love for the planet and commitment to the preservation of its cultures and environment.
She’s been featured in Time magazine, on Good Morning America, Discovery Channel and CNN, among others.
Teal uploaded the video on Wednesday, in which she paddles toward lava spewing from Kilauea volcano in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, tries to surf, then ducks underwater and (presumably) paddles back to an awaiting boat or float craft.
Her dream since age three was to paddle up to an erupting volcano. I can semi-relate to that – my dream since childhood was to dive with great white sharks, which I did in 2007, which drew comments about my sanity from family and friends despite the fact I was in a cage.
An Ongoing Debate
Hawaiian state officials have taken issue with the video, citing the risk posed to herself, and the search and rescue team needed to bring her to safety should things get a little crispy. A volcano can kill you in more ways than you probably care to imagine – and even more so when combined with the awesome power of the ocean.
They say the video is self-promotion rather than education. I respect that.
My own two cents is that she’s pushing boundaries, but I respect her passion. You could also make the argument that skiers who go out of bounds put others at risk. Indeed, she’s ‘putting it all out there’, in the words of Dean Potter – himself no stranger to controversy, and who ultimately put others at risk with the unfortunate task of retrieving his body.
Much love to Dean Potter – one of my personal heroes.
I see both sides to the ripples caused by this (admittedly) stunning video. Would I encourage others to do this? Hell no. Watch the video and decide for yourself.