David Rastovich

    Photo: Courtesy of Billabong

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Age: 29
Organization: Surfers for Cetaceans
You wouldn't peg Rastovich to star in a thriller. The man's a freesurfer, which means he gets paid to surf exotic waves for promotional films. Not exactly a high-stress gig. And yet there he is at the climactic moment of the year's most talked-about documentary, The Cove, paddling out to cause a ruckus in a sea of dolphin blood. In the scene, Rastovich leads a crew of five wetsuit-clad activists—including movie stars Isabel Lucas and Hayden Panettiere—into a clandestine Japanese dolphin slaughter, disrupting the killing with a board circle. "The fishermen flashed the propeller at us and hit the girls in the legs with the boat hook," says Rastovich, who was born in New Zealand and lives in Australia (and now has arrest warrants out for him in Japan). "Rasta" became interested in marine conservation after giving up contest surfing at age 20. Four years later, he started the nonprofit Surfers for Cetaceans to mobilize an athletic community not exactly known for monkeywrenching. Two days after the group formed, Rastovich was surfing at a local break when a shark bore down on him and a dolphin nosedived in, butting the shark away. "That was all the confirmation I needed that I was on the right path," he says. Next up? Kayaking down the Australian coast, from Byron Bay to Sydney, alongside the humpback whale migration. The goal: Pressure the Australian government to enforce whale-sanctuary laws in the Antarctic waters where Japanese whalers hunt. "The government made a promise to help out and hasn't delivered," says Rastovich. "We're going to make them honor their word."

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