Smartfin FAQ

Who created the Smartfin?
Smartfin is the result of a partnership between non-profits, engineers, and the scientific community. It is the brain-child of Dr. Andrew Stern of The Lost Bird Project. In 2015, researchers at Scripps Institution of Oceanography, one of the world’s leading institutions for oceanographic research, came on board to validate the scientific application of Smartfin in the surf zone. Surfrider Foundation joined the partnership in June 2016 to provide logistical and outreach support for the distribution of fins to its network of surfers worldwide.

Why are these measurements important?
There are many scientific instruments collecting data offshore and in the open ocean, however the nearshore environment, like the surf zone, is a more dynamic ecosystem (think lots of wave energy), making it difficult to place sensors, buoys, and floats there. By putting sensors directly onto surfboards, we can collect data and begin to learn about changes in temperature, salinity, and pH, which are properties that have huge implications for the species that live in nearshore ecosystems.

How do I get a Smartfin?
Communities are coming together to create Smartfin programs around the U.S. through Surfrider Foundation's chapter network. The first program will launch in San Diego in the spring of 2017. If you are in the San Diego area and want to participate, you can sign up here. To participate in another region, please fill out the form on the “contact” page or get in touch with the Smartfin Project Manager at swaters[at]surfrider.org.

If the Smartfin is still in development what does it do now?
Prototype Smartfins are currently being tested to make sure that they hold up to the rigors of being in the ocean and produce scientifically accurate data. The current prototype measures temperature and location. Further development of new sensors is currently underway at Scripps Institution of Oceanography. This will enable the fin with a host of sensors capable of providing valuable information for research. Location, temperature, pH, salinity, dissolved oxygen, and chlorophyll are all being incorporated in the development.

How much does a Smartfin cost?
Smartfins will not be available for purchase. Our goal is to make them available to researchers and citizen scientists surfers around the world at little to no cost. The actual engineering and production costs exceed $200 per fin, and we welcome all donations to help underwrite some of these expenses! Click here to donate.

What fin set-up is Smartfin compatible with?
The Smartfin was developed for a Futures fin set-up. Anyone with a Futures board can ride a Smartfin!

Who can I contact for more information?
Please fill out the contact form on the Smartfin page or email Shannon Waters, Smartfin Project Manager, at swaters[at]surfrider.org for more information.

You can help protect our coasts from every threat they face.

Your gift will help meet our goal of $500,000 by December 31!

Donate Now