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Opinion: Laird and Healey are wrong!

Chas Smith

by Chas Smith

Does research mean anything?

As a younger man I spent copious amounts of time in the middle east. Lebanon, Yemen, Somalia, Syria, Egypt, Palestine and with terrorists. Or at least what we here in the west define as “terrorists.” Hezbollah, Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade, Hamas, Al-Qaeda, The Muslim Brotherhood, etc. I drank tea, chatted, laughed, argued, disagreed and was once nabbed and thrown into a blood-stained dungeon then interrogated for almost ever.

Do I know what’s going on in the mind of a terrorist?

Fuck no.

Do Laird Hamilton and Mark Healey, who have spent copious amounts of time in the ocean and with sharks, know what’s going on in the mind of that predator?

Fuck no.

Their claim that menstruation leads to an uptick in shark attack because it kind of makes sense and/or they have seen sharks sniffing girls in the water has simply not been corroborated by any study whatsoever. Zero studies. None. And shall we read from a shark doctor on Broadly?

We asked Dr. Tricia Meredith, who literally wrote the book on the olfactory response of sharks. For her dissertation, she hooked sharks up to a device that introduced controlled amounts of prey odors (smells associated with a shark’s next meal) into a shark’s nose, then measured the electrical impulses in their nasal cavity. She weakened the concentration of these prey odors to determine how diffuse an odor a shark could still pick up. Dr. Meredith found that sharks can detect prey odors as minute as one part per billion—still superhuman, but not better than other fish with similar schnozzes. One part per billion is roughly the background scent level of the ocean. If a shark’s sense of smell was any better they would be flooded with stimulus, the olfactory equivalent of those people who can’t deal with the sound of chewing.

There is one sensory arena where sharks excel, but it isn’t smell. Sharks are incredibly electroreceptive, meaning they can detect teeny tiny electromagnetic fields in water. Sharks possess a science fiction-y and awesomely-named organ called the ampullae of Lorenzini, which are pores, located on the snout, that end in jelly-filled bulbs. These bulbs contain nerves that detect electric fields in the water as small as five millionths of a volt per centimeter. Sharks use the ampullae of Lorenzini to navigate the ocean and detect prey. All ocean-dwelling animals emit an electrical field: Muscle contractions release bioelectricity, and, as Dr. Kajiura says, “any animal in the ocean with a thin, leaky mucus membrane acts as a battery in seawater,” because of the differing pH levels inside and outside the animal. Dr. Kajiura was talking about gills, but “thin, leaky mucus membrane” could also double as the least sexy description of a vagina ever (and that’s including Martin Lawrence’s infamous SNL monologue).

So there you go. Maybe Laird and Healey are right. Maybe they have some kind of sixth sense born of time spent in the ocean and know what sharks are really thinking. Maybe the right study hasn’t been conducted yet.

And maybe I’ll be able to predict ISIS’s next move.

Healey: “Laird is right!”

Derek Rielly

by Derek Rielly

"Not sexist, just nature," says world's second-greatest waterman… 

While I admit to taking too much pleasure in a good ol web beatup, in this case Laird Hamilton vs The World, it might be time to jam on the brakes with a little real talk.

Yesterday, Laird Hamilton, a man who lives in the ocean and whom, I think, we can safely call the greatest waterman ever, made a fairly innocuous comment to the gossip site TMZ. Blood attracts sharks. Ergo, it might be dangerous for a menstruating woman to swim.

Only women bleed, as they say.

Britain’s The Sun, a flashy tabloid, turned up the oil with their headline: Bloody Outrage, Spike in Great White Shark attacks caused by women on their period going swimming, surfing champion outrageously claims

The story, like every other one, was determined to find some connection between identity politics, sexism and so forth, with Laird’s honest opinion; an opinion formed from fifty years in the ocean.

Mark Healey, who actually swims with great white sharks unlike the key-jockeys at the Huff Post and the Sun (and BeachGrit), jumped onto our Instagram and wrote:

“The logic is that predators that are tuned to hunting mammals and have exponentially more powerful senses of smell than we do, pick up on that. The idea is, these predators would much rather follow a female animal that has or is giving birth so that they can get an easier/low-risk meal. The menstruation cycle likely triggers more of a response than just blood. I’ve seen it happen a handful of times while filming sharks and was able to know that the gals who the sharks wouldn’t leave alone were on their periods (yes, I asked). Not sexist, just nature.”

Who you going to believe?

Famous surfers love bad science!

Chas Smith

by Chas Smith

Laird Hamilton and Kelly Slater agree! To soar your wings must be stitched from the gossamer of conspiracy!

And Laird-Gate has broken wide open. U.S. congresswoman Maxine Waters condemned the world’s most famous surfer today for suggesting that sharks single out women in the lineup and The Huffington Post is still as angry as their stepchild Zach Weisberg is with me. That Dead Whale at Trestles, a favorite BeachGrit commentator, smartly brought Kelly Slater, the world’s other most famous surfer, into the conversation, writing:

The Huffington Post piled on. “Turns out being one of the most admired surfers in the world doesn’t make you immune from promoting bad ― and blatantly false ― science.”

Kelly Slater’s immune system reigns on.

Except does it?

Robert Kelly Slater regularly promotes the widely debunked Chem Trail conspiracy along with the disputed notion that chia seeds are better to eat than spread onto ceramic statue heads.

Which makes me wonder. To be widely accepted by the entire non-surfing population as amazing and cool and admired does a surfer have to have a pocketful of bad – and blatantly false – science?

It seems that the answer is a definitive yes.

And we all want John John Florence to reach Huffington Post levels of fame don’t we? So what conspiracy should he promote?

Should he:

a) Claim that Jay-Z and Beyoncé are part of the global Illuminati.

b) Push that Zionists were the masterminds behind 9/11.

c) Believe that the moon landing was faked.

d) Say that JFK was killed by the CIA.

e) Promote the idea of a Deep State.

f) Tell anyone who will listen that Barack Obama is a non-U.S. citizen Muslim.

g) other

Let’s make John John Huffington Post famous together!

Rage: The masses turn on Laird!

Chas Smith

by Chas Smith

Help our hero, Laird Hamilton, dig his way out of a public relations disaster!

Laird Hamilton was the most popular surfer in the entire world until he blamed shark attacks on women going surfing/swimming whilst menstruating. Specifically and unprompted, he said, “The biggest most common reason to be bitten is a woman with her period ummmm which people don’t even think about that. Uh obviously if a woman has her period then there’s…”

At this point a passing woman says, “What?” and you can see the terror in Laird’s eyes as he finishes off “…a lot of blood in the water.” before pivoting. “So, but, ummm mistaken identity…” etc. etc.

And do you think, right here, that Laird Hamilton knew that he had really made a mistake? That news media around the world would pounce?

The terror in his eyes says, “Yes!”

It took a few hours but the worm has turned.

The Sun called Laird’s opinion a “bloody outrage.” The Daily Mail provided real figures that debunked his claim. Even Laird Hamilton’s biggest fan site, The Inertia The Huffington Post, piled on.

Turns out being one of the most admired surfers in the world doesn’t make you immune from promoting bad ― and blatantly false ― science.

And now we get to play a fun public relations game called “What Should Laird Do Next?”

Should he:

a) Apologize profusely for his ignorance and donate money to the National Organization of Women.

b) Double down and dredge up a crackpot doctor to agree with his theory.

c) Enroll in a special education marine biology summer course.

d) Tweet that TMZ peddles fake news.

e) Sell Laird Hamilton sanitary napkins with patented SharkShield technology.

f) Admit that he has Asperger’s while claiming that Asperger’s is caused by eating “ass burgers.”

g) other

Winning suggestion will be delivered to Laird.

SurfStitch Shares in Trading Halt!

Derek Rielly

by Derek Rielly

Yesterday's bargain is today's millstone!

Just two days ago, I opined that at ten cents apiece maybe SurfStitch shares were the deal of a lifetime. Afterall, only eighteen months earlier they cost two bucks.

By my flawed rationale, five grand would buy what was worth a hundred gees only eighteen months earlier. It was like an almost new Bentley had suddenly appeared for sale at a giveaway price. And, conventional, if ballsy, wisdom is to buy in when everybody else is cashing out.

Buy, buy, buy!

Of course, the market usually knows best. If you’d followed my course your ten cent shares would be worth seven cents. A thirty per cent hit in two days.

And, today, after a $100 million class action was launched by aggrieved shareholders, trading in SurfStitch shares was halted. So even if you want to cut your losses you can’t.

From the Biz Insider:

The class action launched by lawyers Quinn Emanuel claims SurfStitch was trading at a loss when it announced in 2015 that it was expecting earnings to double in the 2016 year.

SurfStitch is accused of misleading and deceptive conduct and breaching its continuous disclosure obligations 

The company’s shares fell 9% yesterday to close at $0.068, well down on the record high of $2.09 and the $1 list price in 2014.

SurfStitch on Monday announced another profit downgrade, saying full year losses are now expected to be about double the size since the last estimate in February.

The company is now forecasting an underlying EBITDA (earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation) loss for the full year of between $10.5 million to $11.5 million, a sharp deterioration from the $5 million to $6.5 million forecast in February and the previous estimate of a $4 million to $5 million loss.

(Read the rest of that story here.)

The Australian Financial Review, meanwhile, wrote about a seventy-eight-year-old man who was so dazzled by SurfStitch’s promises of riches he poured his cash into the online retailer.

A 78-year-old retiree who has seen the value of his shares in SurfStitch Group plunge 92 per cent is the lead plaintiff in a $100 million class action claim.

Warwick Cook and his wife Leonee bought their first 5000 shares in SurfStitch in November 2015, paying $2.12 a share, more than double SurfStitch’s issue price less than 12 months earlier.

The Cooks were encouraged by repeated forecasts by SurfStitch’s co-founder and chief executive Justin Cameron that earnings were expected to more than double in 2016, to between $15 million and $18 million.

Mr Cook bought another 5000 shares in December 2015 after SurfStitch announced a share placement to fund the acquisition of a surf accessories business, Surf Hardware, and upped its profit guidance to between $18 million and $22 million.

And,

Mr Cook snapped up another 25,000 shares in May 2016 at 49¢ after SurfStitch downgraded guidance to between $2 million and $3 million, citing a reorganisation triggered by Mr Cameron’s surprise resignation in March.

 What Mr Cook and other minority shareholders did not know was that first-half profits and full-year guidance were underpinned by $20.3 million in income from a content deal with a Sydney-based publisher, Kim Sundell’s Coastalcoms/Three Crowns Media Group.

A month later, in June 2016, SurfStitch reversed the $20.3 million transaction, leading to an $18.8 million loss. SurfStitch shares plunged 50 per cent to 18.5¢ and continued to lose ground, closing on Tuesday at a record low of 6.8¢.

(Read that one here.)

The sharemarket is as fascinating as it is gruesome, don’t you think?