If you can't ride on a great white's back, what useful purpose does it serve humanity?

How Whites Became the New Whale!

The sudden deification of a man-eater… 

Have you ever wondered how great whites became the New Whale? And how, in the  small Australian coastal town of Ballina, a swarm of great white attacks could be met, not with the proven solution of stringing a few hundred metres of nets across each beach, but with government hand-wringing and absurd solutions such as drone surveillance?

Vic Peddemors, the chief shark researcher at the NSW Department of Primary Industries, is an example of the mindset that constantly resists suggestions to make the ocean safer for people.

In a TEDx talk called Sharks or humans, who should be afraid? in Canberra in 2012, he jokingly described the two fatal attacks in Western Australia that year as a “bumper season”. Some members of the audience nervously laughed along with him. He added that the toll was an “anomaly” and “next year it will be back down to the normal levels that we would expect”.

Peddemors’ reassuring prediction was incorrect. At least four people have been killed by sharks in WA since then. Three unexplained disappearances might also have been caused by sharks, although we will never know.

Last year I emailed Peddemors, asking him if he regretted the insensitivity of the “bumper season” remark, but he never replied. Peddemors was making more predictions last week, telling the Australia-wide youth radio station Triple J that nets in Ballina would have an unacceptable toll on marine mammals.

“He predicts that rolling them out on the north coast would kill 20 dolphins within weeks,” the station reported.

Queensland statistics suggest Peddemors is exaggerating. Only eight dolphins were killed in that state’s 28 nets, spread out from Cairns to the Gold Coast, in all of 2015. Peddemors also said that great whites are “certainly not attracted” to humans. But a horrific incident in South Africa in 2013 disputes this. A fifteen-foot-plus great white took a snorkeler from the shallows at Jeffreys Bay (where Australian pro surfer Mick Fanning was attacked last year) into deeper water.

After the alarm was raised, a man on a kayak paddled out to try to retrieve what was left of the victim’s body. But the shark would not let the body go, despite the kayaker hitting it with his oar.

There are many other incidents where the victim is never recovered, which contradicts Peddemors’ claim that great whites are not interested in killing or eating humans.

Glen Folkard, who survived an attack in Newcastle in 2014, says he believes great whites retreat after making an initial strike and simply wait for the victim to bleed to death, which explains why some victims are given a brief opportunity to escape, as Folkard himself did, albeit with injuries that still cause him physical and psychological pain today.

Peddemors last week also participated in a video debate organised by Coastalwatch, a surfing website. In it he gave a rare insight into the objectives of the federal Great White Recovery Plan, devised in 2002 and revised in 2012.

“Geneticists believe there were probably 30,000 white sharks in the (Australian) population long before we arrived on this continent, and that it was stable at that level for thousands of generations,” he said. He estimated the current population is fewer than 6000, implying that we are only a fifth of the way back to the ideal population.

It’s curious that Peddemors is so confident of an estimate from an unspecified period in history yet decades of research by him and others has still not arrived at a definitive population figure today.
Peddemors’ main strategy has been an expensive and potentially dangerous program of tagging sharks. But the deleterious effects of this strategy are considerable. Tags can be heard by the sharks’ prey; and they have been known to cause injury and irritation to sharks.

Besides, a report by the West Australian Department of Fisheries earlier this year made the startling discovery that great white behaviour is “highly variable… white sharks were observed travelling along the WA coast in both directions at most times of the year”. It also found that “it is unlikely that a greater period of data collection will generate an overall predictive model”.

While he continues to promote increased tagging in an unlikely attempt to be able to predict shark behaviour, Peddemors’ advice to surfers, according to Hack, is to buy a shark repellant.

“Stop asking the government, stop asking council, stop asking everyone else, to look after your own safety, look after yourself.”

If it sounds like satire, it isn’t.

Meanwhile, after two great white attacks at Ballina in a week, the NSW government suddenly reversed it’s no-shark nets policy. Sanity, sometimes prevails.

Dave Carson's Lunada Bay cover for Monster Children magazine. | Photo: Dave Carson

Lunada Bay Boy’s Alleged Hate Crime!

Teen named in suit against Lunada Bay Boys charged with racist beat-down… 

A new and interesting development is coming out of the Lunada Bay saga as a named defendant in the ongoing class-action is being sued for participating in an unrelated hate crime.

In September, 2015, the Golden Lion Liquor store in Palos Verdes Estates was robbed by three teenage boys. Two of them proceeded to attack the owner, Shuja Oberoi, with baseball bats, while the third served as lookout.

According to The Daily Breeze:

The crime occurred about 8:45 p.m. Sept. 11 as Oberoi worked at Golden Lion Liquor, a store he opened in 2000. One of the boys, a 16-year-old from Palos Verdes Estates, walked inside first as a lookout. He told detectives the intention was to rob the store of money, police said.

After he walked out, two 17-year-olds, one from Rancho Palos Verdes and one from the unincorporated area on The Hill, barged into the store, police said. Both wore Halloween skeleton masks and black gowns and carried metal baseball bats.

Outside of the community sanctioned harassment of outsiders at the nearby beaches, there is little violent crime in the immediate area. Local residents were shocked and rallied around the store owner, raising $7000 to help with medical expenses.

The three teens were quickly arrested but there was more trouble to follow for the fine young man who played lookout.

Almost two months later, the boy who served as the lookout was named in an unrelated class-action lawsuit filed against the Lunada Bay Boys which seeks to break the stronghold of multigenerational surfers long accused of threatening and harassing outsiders who try to share the waves.

Anthony Falangetti, the attorney defending the boys and their parents in the lawsuit, claims the nationality of Oberoi is an “unfortunate coincidence.” No doubt the boys would have viciously beaten the owner regardless of his nationality.

But Oberoi’s lawsuit alleges otherwise.

[Oberoi’s lawsuit] claims that the father of one of the older boys flies a Confederate flag at his home and “regularly used racially derogatory terms to describe African-American neighbors in the presence of his son throughout his son’s early childhood.”

The boy used racial slurs toward his neighbors as early as the age of 3, the lawsuit alleges, and his father used “similarly derogatory language to describe Muslims.”

The suit also accuses the father of allowing the older teens to sell narcotics in his home, and says he also failed to provide supervision and guidance for his son, whom he knew had a history of criminal and violent behavior.

The Daily Breeze is declining to name any of the boys who attacked Oberoi, and I suppose I should follow suit. However, because the lookout is named in the Lunada Bay class-action, it would be relatively easy for anyone with access to the complaint to puzzle it out using a simple process of elimination.

And, what do you know? You can read that very same document HERE. 

Gab Medina seen here in happier times.
Gab Medina seen here in happier times.

Parker: “How to kill pro surfing!”

What kind of missteps would it take to kill the WSL?

I’m having a hard time focusing on surfing at the moment. Been too wrapped up in our glorious election, in the implosion of the Republican party. Beyond fascinating to watch someone hit their own self destruct button. And that’s what this is.

Hateful hate-filled straight white dudes, and their mid-west Schlafly-esque counterparts, are loud as fuck. But they are a minority. Something of which they are well aware. Which explains the terror and acts against their own self interest. We all know how they feel about minorities.

I’ve been struggling to think of a similar meltdown within the surf industry. Lots of failures out there. Nature of business within an industry that relies heavily on being trendy. Like skateboarding, it’ll always be up and down. Feast and famine. Hold on tight and hope you can ride it out until the kids wanna look surfy again.

What kind of missteps would it take to kill the WSL?

Like, if Speaker made a public comment about the lack of black surfers on tour, claimed, “It’s because of their higher bone density. They don’t swim well. Ask a scientist, I know what I’m talking about.”

Would that do it? Maybe not. Hard to alienate an audience you don’t really have to begin with.

Maybe something anti-woman?

“We don’t have a women’s Pipe event because of the physical dangers they’d face. Their vaginas could fill up like balloons during a wipeout, damaging their wombs, rendering them infertile and therefore useless to society.”

That’d surely piss a few people off.

I think the problem with the two aforementioned examples, they’re obviously not true. So they wouldn’t be said, and if they were they’d be largely ignored. We all like to watch surfing, and the WSL is the only game in town.

You know what might do it?

Actually drive people away, rather than fail to attract new eyes, like they’re already doing.

Tell the truth. Call a press conference, get up on stage, and tell it like it is.

“We’re only in this for the money.”

Radiation: “Passion bigger than risk!”

Would you risk radiation poisoning for a few empty waves? Why not!

We chat here so often about surfing and the increasing variety of obstacle one must hurdle in order to do. Sharks everywhere, SUPers riding guillotines, crowds, The Brazilian Storm, etc. etc. And we discuss because the only thing we have to fear is fear itself! If we look these various conflagrations, directly, then we’ll truly know their heat doesn’t even come close to matching the flames burning in our own hearts!

We love surfing! It’s anti-depressive and nothing but nothing will stand in our way!

Except maybe a massive nuclear meltdown spilling directly into the lineup!

Of course you remember 2011’s Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster. The Japanese facility perched right the Pacific coast not three hours north of Tokyo melted straight down after the Tohoku earthquake.

A whole town decimated. Finished. Abandoned still and the scientists tell us poisoned for centuries to come.

Except surfers don’t care! The flames in our own hearts licks eats nuclear waste for breakfast before slapping its lip! NextShark, an online magazine focusing on Asian youth, has a fascinating piece of photojournalism on Japanese surfers who brave growing extra limbs.

The photographer, Eric Lafforgue, declares, “The surfers say their passion is bigger than the risks and the truth will not be known for 20 years.”

In 20 years who do you think will win, surfers or radiation?

I say surfers! It’s the anti-depressive answer!

Go here to view the gallery!

It is only bag upon bag of radioactive sand there in the background. Totally worth the lack of crowds!
It is only bag upon bag of radioactive sand there in the background. Totally worth the lack of crowds!

#tournotes: “He must be proud of hisself!”

Keanu Asing! He soar! Still!

And is your spirit still soaring over Keanu Asing’s World Championship Tour victory? How could it not be! Next Gen Rudy! The best sporting story on earth!

Peter King? Are you there? With your Samsung Galaxy 7 (iPhone 5)? Can you give us the love and up close?

Of course! It is what the man is paid to do (I think)!

And my favorite moment is when Gabi Medina says, “He must be proud of hisself. I want it so bad but I’m pr… I’m happy for him.”

Don’t be a hater! That is the sweet honey of a broken-hearted but very good loser.

I’m a fan! Gabi for 2016 World Champ!

Gabi for President!