shark leash
From Surf Stitch: "The MODOM Ambassadors including Jack Freestone, Taj Burrow, Craig Anderson, Kalani David, Noah Beschen, Alana Blanchard, Tom Whitaker, Mark Mathews. We have also had a number of tour guys like Kelly Slater test out the product during Bells." Did anyone here get attacked by a shark? Well? It works! | Photo: Modom

Report: Do Anti-Shark Leashes work?

Let's ask a shark scientist!

Does Modom think you’re an idiot? If so, they might be right.

First news of their new “shark deterrent leash” dropped on Stab/Stitch‘s website a couple months back.

Titled This Shark Leash Is The Most Desirable Surf Tech In The World Right Now! the piece was a particularly disingenuous piece of marketing.

“Modom didn’t give us a cent for what you read here (yes, we’d tell you). We’re just fucking thrilled to have something that’s potentially effective at discouraging sharks.”

Very nice. So much concern. Totally impartial. No conflict of interest there. Surfstitch definitely isn’t looking to earn a buck middle-manning the product. Oh no, this is truly a humanitarian effort. Using the power of magnets to save life and limb!

Modom’s magnet leash sprung from a license agreement with SharkBanz, a subsidiary of SharkDefense, which is a New Jersey based company founded by Eric and Jean Stroud in 2001. SharkDefense is the proud owner of numerous shark repellent patents. In addition to magnets, they also sell a line of Batman style shark repellent spray.

Considering the company employs numerous “scientists,” it’s worrying that there is a total lack of peer review or access to any of their “research” data.

Sure, they have some “research” posted on their site, but it amounts to little more than a collection of data gathered by others, with no indication of how they proceeded with real world testing.

Lucky for us there are concerned citizens willing to double check claims for them.

Take a gander at the following video. Does an excellent job demonstrating the efficacy of the Sharkbanz’ magnetic wonder.


The shark targeted and ate the magic magnet.

What’s going on? Does this mean it doesn’t work?

Nope. Still totally works, they claim. 

Sharkbanz are not designed to prevent sharks from eating visible bait. They have a hierarchy of senses and can override the electrical sense in the event that visible bait is present. Again, Sharkbanz are meant to deter curious sharks from biting a person while in investigative mode, not prevent them from eating bloody fish bait.

An interesting claim, kind of surprising considering The testing was performed using baited fake legs with the leash cuff connected. Their heavily edited videos purporting to demonstrate efficacy use the same method.

But what do I know? I’m no sharkologist.

All this is just arm chair speculation based on lack of evidence and contradictory marketing material. I really need to talk with someone in the know. Ideally that would be a person who studies the creatures for a living and doesn’t have an economic interest in promoting the product.

So I emailed Dr. Carl Meyer, member of the shark and reef fish research team at the Hawaii Institute of Marine Biology.

I’m yet to see any rigorous testing on Sharkbanz carried out by independent scientists, and I am fundamentally skeptical about the ability of these devices to deter sharks from biting people. Decline in magnetic field strength is governed by the inverse square law. Thus even a couple of inches from your Sharkbanz the magnetic field is extremely weak – weak magnetic fields do not inherently repel sharks. Basically, the device has a very small magnetic footprint – most of your body will not be within this footprint.

The inverse square law states that “a specified physical quantity or intensity is inversely proportional to the square of the distance from the source of that physical quantity.”

Confusing, yeah?

That basically means that the magnetic field gets exponentially weaker the further you get from the magnet. This graphic helped me wrap my head around the concept.

Dr Meyer continued, “I’ve seen some research data showing aversion to solid state magnets by small sharks held in close proximity to the magnet. The problem is that field strength is declining exponentially with distance from the magnet, so to a propagate a strong magnetic field over an area the size of a human body would require a tremendously powerful magnet (=large magnet) at the field center. For full effectiveness, we would also need to understand the minimum magnetic field strength threshold for shark repulsion, and design a field that was at least this strong immediately surrounding our body. This threshold will likely vary as a function of shark species, size and motivational state.”

Basically, even if it works (it doesn’t), the Modom leash will only protect the foot your leash is attached to. The other leg, your arms, your head, they’re still up for grabs.

Worrying information considering the fact that marketing rhetoric has compared the leash to seat belts and helmets. Two things which actually provide real, demonstrable, benefits as opposed to a placebo effect based on specious voodoo science.

Dr Meyer agrees.

The biggest problem I have with devices like Sharkbanz is that people are clearly buying them with the belief that they will be either entirely protected from shark bites, or at least less likely to be bitten. Neither of these facts have been scientifically proven, and there are fundamental reasons why these devices are unlikely to deter a shark from biting you. These devices are in a grey area, exploiting peoples fears, without being held to the high standards required of other safety devices (i.e. that they actually work). The burden of proof of effectiveness is on the manufacturer, and in my opinion, they are a long way from demonstrating effectiveness in preventing shark bites. 

Of course, there’s no getting through to some people. Just like we saw a million morons harnessing the power of magnets to enhance their balance, there will no doubt be a rush of halfwits and cowards all too eager to drop $250 on a leash with a magnet attached.

Pretty crazy price point, especially considering it’s just a normal leash with a neodynium magnet attached. The same type of magnet you can buy on Amazon for under twenty bucks.

It’d be damn easy to rig one of those things to a leash, maybe wrap a cord around it and fashion a necklace. It’d not work just as well, and you could spend the balance on whatever it is that dumb dumbs blow their dough on. ICP concerts and lottery tickets, I suppose.


Confusing: The Nietzschean surfer!

Angsty AF.

I am going to San Francisco this evening for a little slice of business. Have you been? Many of my favorite people in surf are either from there, have spent lots of time there or love it there. Matt Warshaw, honored historian, occasional zealot, spent years bundled in black, I think. Ashton Goggans who is at Surfer did too. Taylor Paul, the ex editor-in-chief of Surfing magazine grew up just down the road in Aptos. Louis Samuels, whom I have never met, still plies his trade somewhere in Fog City. Etc.

The town features wonderful food, grand architecture, an interesting history, activities for both the young and young at heart and also features the worst climate on earth. Mark Twain is attributed with famously saying, “The coldest winter I ever spent was summer in San Francisco…” and I’ll be damned if that doesn’t just sum it up nicely.

Fog descends from the sky, beginning sometime in May. A freezing, thick and miserable fog. It blankets the bay morning, noon and night refusing to release its grip for weeks, even months, at a time. The locals, shrouded in thick wool, turn into strange moles scurrying about their business. Children weep for the sun. Mothers hush them, saying, “The sun is for weaklings. You’ll grow up tough, dear. Tough like Courtney Love (who was born in the middle of one of SF’s “summers” in 1964).”

And the surf? Relentless! Ocean Beach is one massive test of the human will. Waves march like Napoleon’s army pouring their fury upon the Russians at Austerlitz. The surfer, shrouded in thick rubber, must put his head down and ram it against futility. If he is lucky he’ll wind up outside where the peaks shift and the sharks wait and crusty old men with beards shake angry fists at the sky, daring “God” to show his face.

I don’t surf to test my will and want absolutely nothing to do with OB but am very impressed by the masochists that crave its slap. And equally confused by them. If surfing is a Nietzschean struggle then what joy is there in life? What pleasure?

Confession: I’m a (surf) cuckold!

A six-foot wave at Long Beach, New York, took my manhood and made me an object of derision…



noun: cuckold; plural noun: cuckolds

1. The husband of an adulteress, often regarded as an object of derision.
verb. (Of a man) make (another man) a cuckold by having a sexual relationship with his wife.


Its true. Kinda…

In 1936 Ernest Hemingway published an amazing short story called The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber. In it, Macomber and his wife travel to Africa for a hunting safari. Their guide is a strapping, rugged and emotionless stud (a fear in and of itself for every belly bulging, hair-line receding hubby) called Robert Wilson.

Macomber hits a lion, but it doesn’t die. It stumbles into a heavily wooded/grassy area. Their guide, Robert Wilson, tells Macomber he can’t leave the lion that way. He needs to go into the bush and finish the kill. Macomber becomes terrified. Wilson says he will go with him. Macomber’s wife, Margarate, is watching this all unfold. That is to say, the first piece of her husband’s masculinity starts to fade when she senses his fear.

They go into the bush. Macomber succumbs to fear. Wilson kills the lion. Macomber is stripped of his manhood. His wife, Margarate, on the ride back to camp, kisses Robert Wilson right in front of her husband.

There’s more.

Later, Macomber wakes in the middle of the night to find his wife absent from her cot. She walks in some time later. He calls her a bitch. The next day she “accidently” shoots him to what Wilson says “will be a certain amount of unpleasantness at the inquest. The gun bearers will serve as witnesses …but you should be ok.”

A six-foot wave at Long Beach, New York, took my manhood and made me cuckold.

(It wasn’t big. Pretty good form from the higher tide. East-south-east angle. The water was cold though. Around forty-one degrees.)

Actually, now that I think back on it, that bulging swell of salt water did look like a lion rushing out of a tranquil bush. Long Beach (NY) locals (who rarely surrender a set wave) posed as the gun bearers and surrogate wives watching and waiting for me to turn and pop up. The current had drifted them toward the end section of the lineup. I had just paddled back out.

So I sat there alone. Waiting.

I paddled toward the peak. The hoots continued. I turned toward shore, dug my hands into the water and started paddling. As I looked down the line, a cadre of NY locals staring through me, I realized I did not like the look of the wave. Looked like a closeout. Didn’t feel like getting pinched by fifteen cubic yards of ice cold Atlantic with a fraction of possible Hep C. Sorry.

Eight hooded black rubber suits bobbing at the end of the line slowly making their way back to the take-off point. Watching me sit there. Detached. About 60 yards out to sea, we all saw the peak of a set wave begin to pyramid. It marched closer.

In the ocean, amid all that expanse, there are no buildings or cars to muffle noises or calls. Especially when your sitting there alone and the signals are meant for you…




These howls translate to “YOU BETTER GO PUSSY!!!”

There was nowhere to go. There was no other surfer around to relinquish priority to.

I paddled toward the peak. The hoots continued. I turned toward shore, dug my hands into the water and started paddling. As I looked down the line, a cadre of NY locals staring through me, I realized I did not like the look of the wave. Looked like a closeout. Didn’t feel like getting pinched by fifteen cubic yards of ice cold Atlantic with a fraction of possible Hep C. Sorry.

The pull back was awful.

Open mouths. Shaking heads. A couple of “un-fucking believables.”


However way you try to play it off like it doesn’t bother you, like Hemingway and Macomber, there is a side of us that is sickened when we cower. When we shy away from the reality of a manhood challenge. I felt that tinge of nausea in my belly.

I walked back to the car some time after.

Hoping my wife was not on the beach. Hoping the ammunition store was not open yet.

No endorsement: Hip mod slang!

Slang AF

I’ve been on a negative kicker today but I’m going to play through if you don’t mind. Tomorrow the sun will come out! Today I fucking hate when surf publications play to some sense of cool by using youth phrases 4 months after their pull-by date!

Stab is definitely the grossest transgressor these days. You’d think it would be The Inertia but their staff is even too kooky to be 4 months behind. Surfer‘s editorial staff is so confused as to why they have an editor no one has ever heard of/is gingy to write anything meaningful. Surfing only likes looking at pictures. Does Surfline have any stories? Australian magazines. The Inertia is such shit.

I drove past their offices by accident the other day, by the way, multiple blocks away from the already spent Abbott Kinney in Venice, CA and it made me laugh lots. They have offices multiple blocks away from the already spent Abbott Kinney in Venice, CA! With a big sign and stuff!

But back to Stab. Yesterday they posted a story about Carlos Burle carrying the torch for the Olympics. The caption read “It’s still lit AF.”

AF. AF. AF. AF. That’s rad AF. Cool AF. AF. Just write “as fuck” if you want to use the term! AF! AF as AF! AS FUCK. FUCK! AS! AS FUCK!

Did you ever read Hipster Runoff in its prime? That man did du jour slang so well that he broke the mold. Stab should only use the Queen’s English. Nothing more.

I feel bad, now, for swimming in Rory Parker’s pool. He does cantankerous so much better than me.

As Fuck you, Stab.

Wade Goodall river surfing
And this is Dylan Graves' Australian pal Wade Goodall, surfing with a feverish impatience!

Movie: Wild Waves with Dylan Graves!

Come surf Snake River, Wyoming, with Dylan Graves, Wade Goodall and pals…

I’m not a fan of fresh water. Too much weird shit going on beneath the murky surface.  Logs, boulders, slippery eels.  No sir, I do not like it.

River surfing ain’t for me.

Take Waimea River mouth. Standing wave looks super fun.

But what the videos don’t show is how disgusting the water is. Had plenty of opportunities to give it a try, was happy to sit on the sand and watch others frolic in a frothy leptospirosis ag run-off cocktail.

Google says the Snake River is among the cleanest in the US, though. Probably cleaner than SoCal ocean and I spent most of my life playing in that poison. But it’s an irrational thing anyway. I’m uncomfortable with the idea of catfish swimming around looking to suck on my toes.  Must be some traumatic experience from childhood I’ve repressed.

One random bit of knowledge I possess, down river traffic has the right of way. Whitewater rafts will blast straight through kayakers when they don’t get out of the way.