Video Highlights Ocean Charities

Robert Zelkovsky premieres his new video July 24

Waterman Robert Zelkovsky, head of Bamboo Moon Video, has been involved in video for 15 years. Last year he joined the board of the Surfrider Foundation Kauai Chapter, hoisted his camera onto his shoulder and began shooting footage of ocean-based nonprofit organizations that intrigued him.

One thing the grassroots activities Surfrider Kaua’i does is monthly ocean-quality spot checks, says Zelkovsky.

“Last May we had heavy rains, and six out of 12 beaches were deemed unsafe,” he says. “That just blew my mind. This isn’t New York, Los Angeles, the Great Lakes. This is Kaua’i, and we had polluted ocean – I really saw the need for these organizations coming forward and doing the different things they do.”

While he doesn’t cover all ocean-based nonprofits and volunteer-driven organizations, Zelkovsky does feature five of them in a 13-minute video he’ll premiere Saturday, July 24 at sunset – about 7:30 p.m. – at the free outdoor Hawaii Ocean Film Festival at Waipa.

Titled Aikane o Ke Kai (Friends of the Sea), the video honors these organizations and their volunteers. The featured nonprofits include Surfrider Kaua’i, The Sierra Club, Malama Na Apapa, K.O.R.E. (Kaua’i Ocean Recreation Experience) and Sea Scouts.

“Joining Surfrider opened my eyes to many ocean issues,” says Zelkovsy, a surfer who grew up in Brooklyn and surfed winters even when it snowed.

“I’m on the executive committee, and when I first started an event was happening.

“They had two tons of nets shipping to Oahu (for destruction) and I said let me bring my camera and shoot.”

Connections led from there. On the same day of the net event, he met up with members of Malama Na Apapa, an organization with a mission to help clean up reefs. Headed by Scott Bacon, the group consists of divers who clear the reefs of nets and other marine debris.

A longtime member of the Sierra Club, Zelkovsky turned his lens on that group during a beach cleanup at Nawiliwili Harbor, a joint effort with Surfrider Kaua’i.

Also through Surfrider, Zelkovsky learned about K.O.R.E. – and joined. The organization is dedicated to bringing people with challenges into the ocean.

Zelkovsky describes the K.O.R.E scene as tons of volunteers with big surfboards gathering at Hanalei pier, getting riders onto boards and helping them ride on tiny waves.

“It’s not just for kids,” he says. “There was a man who’d surfed Hanalei for 30 years, had a stroke and hadn’t been in the water since. This guy was stoked.”

Through Surfrider, Zelkovsky met Skipper Larry Richardson, who founded Kaua’i’s first Sea Scouts chapter in 2009. Affiliated with the Boy Scouts, Sea Scouting is open to young men and women ages 13 to 20.

Aboard the three boats in the fleet, youths learn seamanship, responsibility, safety in the ocean, how to navigate and how to take care of a boat. Zelkovsky lauds the organization he almost joined as a kid and says, “It isn’t adults doing adult things and bringing children along; it’s the young adults doing things with the adults mentoring.”

Zelkovksy, who has entered several film festivals and won prizes, has been the technical director for the past 15 years of The Storybook Theatre of Hawaii, the home of Russell da Rooster, a puppet show that’s been seen in five cities on the Mainland as well as across Hawaii and in the Cook Islands.

“The key component to all the groups in Aikane o Ke Kai are the volunteers – the backbone of any nonprofit organization,” says Melinda Sandler, organizer of the Hawaii Ocean Film Festival. “In light of the oil spill and what will likely be a decade-long call for volunteers, I have been focusing on this aspect for HOFF. I’ll be showing a few other films from around the world on the humanitarian efforts of SurfAid International, and Surfing the Nations, whose film Gum For My Boat was sent to us from an Oahu-based organization, whose motto is ‘Surfers Giving Back.’ They feed the hungry locally and internationally, they make yearly trips to Indonesia, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Israel and Egypt bringing clothing, supplies and the surf culture to street kids from very poor families, who discover a love for surfing in an ocean that was once deemed off limits due to fear and a very conservative Islamic culture.”

Zelkovsky may be reached at 822-4893,, or

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