Opinion: Shark Policies “Insane”!

Government policies "costing lives" says Fred Pawle after yesterday's fatal attack on a surfer… 

On Holy Saturday, I bumped into the writer Fred Pawle while shopping for Easter eggs at a chocolatier in Bondi. The reader will be pleased to note I selected two one-pound eggs and a dark chocolate rabbit of equal heft, all of which were happily received by kids and lover.

Fred was running late for his shift at The Australian and since I hadn’t seen him since the wake for our mutual pal Bill Leak who had suddenly been called to heaven, I offered to drive Fred into the city.

It promised to be an exciting night.

Trump was threatening to take out North Korea’s nukes; Kim was promising a spectacular retaliation.

“World War III could start while I’m on the desk,” said Fred in his breathless bass. I asked if he could call me if it did indeed commence, to which he agreed.

Then we ruminated on how quiet sharks had been in Western Australia. Fred, as you know, keeps a very close eye on shark activity, particularly Great Whites.

Well, clearly we spoke too soon. Yesterday afternoon, a teenage girl was hit while surfing and died soon after in a nearby hospital. 

And this morning, Fred opined that Australia’s timid response to overwhelming evidence that the shark thing was getting out of control was costing lives.

Unfortunately, the story is hidden by a paywall, but let’s take a small peek.

Our insane shark-conservation policies have cost another life, this time a 17-year-old girl who was attacked in front of her parents and siblings.

I would like to say that this incident will be the turning point in this debate, that our politicians will finally realise we need to reduce the increasing number of aggressive, lethal sharks in our waters, but this is unlikely.

• Senate shark inquiry ignores key issues

The forces against such action are deeply entrenched in all our major organisations. For example, Surf Life Saving Western Australia, where yesterday’s attack occurred, recommends six responses to sharks: research, education, surveillance, communication, preventive action (“shark barriers”, which can be built only in placid waters) and emergency response. It does not recommend the reduction of sharks, despite many fishermen in the state saying the size and abundance of large sharks, especially great whites, off WA are alarmingly high.

Researchers and academics whose careers depend upon continued funding into the behaviour and fragility of these “apex predators” long ago convinced politicians and large sections of the community that to reduce the number of sharks in our waters would be an ecological disaster

So a teenage kid, doing what Aussie teenagers have done for more than a century, has died instead. She won’t be the last.

The Senate’s environment committee, chaired by Green Tasmanian Peter Whish-Wilson, will coincidentally hold public hearings into shark mitigation strategies in Perth on Thursday. If, when the hearings begin, the committee expresses sympathy for the latest victim’s family, it will be an act of breathtaking hypocrisy.

As reported in The Australian this month, the committee has already reached a conclusion that its job is to help revive the number of sharks in our waters, downplay the dangers they pose, dismiss methods that have proven successful in Queensland and Sydney, and educate the public about these “wonderful” and “extraordinary” animals.

Its priority is the safety of sharks first, people second.

Of the six people invited to the Perth hearings, two are conservationist academics (UWA professors Shaun Collin and Rebecca Meeuwig); one is selling an unreliable personal electronic deterrent (Shark Shield); one advocates the immediate abandonment of drumlins and nets in Queensland, the presence of which has coincided with an almost complete absence of fatal attacks for 50 years (Sea Shepherd); and another is SLSWA, whose timid six-point plan is outlined above.

For the remaining couple of paragraphs, sign up to The Australian and dive in. 

Lucas Chumbo and Francisco Porcella make the case for cultural immersion!

Watch: Nazaré No Longer Boring!

Three minutes well spent!

Here’s a confession. I often find big wave spectating to be quite boring. There are exciting moments, especially at Jaws or Cloudbreak or any of those Aussie slabs, but usually when people pull out their 10’2″s, I think about pulling a Cobain.

This is not intended to discredit big wave surfers. In fact, I have the utmost respect for their courage and commitment in such a terrifying pursuit. I could never do that shit.

But does that mean I have to enjoy watching them poo-drop into lumpy mountains? I think no.

One of my least favorite waves to watch is Portugal’s Nazaré, a beachbreak wedge of epic proportions. The bathymetty behind a bay that turns massive, long period swells into sixty foot triangles is truly a thing of wonder. But watching guys tow into giant burgers or paddle fruitlessly in the soup is grueling. At least most of the time.

Enter Nuno Dias, the 22-year-old surf filmmaker who spent this winter posted on the cliff (perhaps in a small tent) at Praia Nazaré. Never heard of him? Me neither. But Dias has produced the most filmer entries into the 2017 WSL Big Wave Awards, including one for “Ride of the Year”, another for “Biggest Paddle”, and two in the “Wipeout” category.

But Dias ain’t the point-and-shoot type. He’s a thinker, a real artisan in the editing booth. That’s why his winter recap clip, Grande, is so fun to watch.

Set to a Shining Bird track, Grande is beautiful, petrifying, and most importantly not boring. Please enjoy!

Slaves: WSL surfers sell souls?

What would you pay to use your favorite surfer in any way you saw fit?

A few weeks ago, Albee Layer posted an Instagram shot of himself cruising Jaws that had been used by Apple in an advertising campaign, writing in the caption:

I don’t remember agreeing to this. I should sue apple haha. But on a real note I think it’s kind of weird that people just show up to places like jaws take photos or video with no ones permission then make money off of it with no benefit to the surfers.

Something about it struck me as funny but I moved on without giving it much more thought… until the same image popped onto my screen as I was sending a large file using Wetransfer (above). There he was again. Cruising.

Then again on a World Surf League Jeep ad. Cruising.

And then epiphany! There is no person showing up to places like Jaws taking photos or video with no ones permission then making money off of it with no benefit to the surfers. The World Surf League must be doing it! Am I right? Which made me wonder, does the WSL own the rights of any/all professional surfer images? Like, if you sign up for one of the tours/WSL specialty events from the CT to the QS to the Big Wave do you also sign over your likeness? And not just surfing in the event, as the Albee photo is not from competition?

I totally bet so!

And if the League is then theoretically turning around and selling images to Apple, Wetransfer, etc. what else are they doing? Are there lots of Tindr profiles feat. Kanoa Igarashi and Leo Fioravanti? Grindr profiles? Is there a booming Jack Freestone screensaver trade in India? Is Kolohe Andino the face of Bolivia’s McDonalds?

How much for an Albee? What about a Kanoa or Leo? Is Kolohe a great price conscious alternative to John John?

Who should BeachGrit buy?

Breaking: Shark Kills Teenage Surfer in WA

Seventeen-year-old girl killed while surfing with her father… 

A teenage surfer has died after a shark attack in Esperance, seven hundred clicks south-east of Perth. The girl, who was surfing with her dad, is believed to’ve lost a leg in the hit. She was treated on site by ambulance officers and later taken to Esperance Hospital where she died from her injuries.

Her mother and two sisters were on the beach.

The attack occurred at Kelp Beds, east of Esperance.

As reported by The Australian,

Shark sightings are a regular occurrence off the Esperance coast. In October 2014, 23-year-old Sean Pollard had an arm and another hand bitten off by a shark while surfing at Wylie Bay near Esperance.

Local surfer Tilo Massenbauer said there hadn’t been many shark sightings lately. “There’s been the odd one, but nothing like there was a few years ago. It’s a little bit early (in the year).

“They’ve had more run-ins at Margaret River, where they’ve had a lot of salmon.”

He said the water had been murly lately from a lot of swell activity, and the sky had been overcast since Saturday.

“It’s been grey on grey, which just adds to the risk.”

Mr Massenbauer said the most common shark encounters were with juveniles about 3m in length.

“They are more agitated and bullish. They will charge you a few times. The big ones swim up to you and have a sniff and trail you, but it never feels as bad as the 3m ones.”

He also said the surfers in town were concerned for swimmers in the town’s wide open bay. “Swimmers and snorkellers are more vulnerable than us – at least we have a board between us and the shark.”

Mr Massenbauer’s most recent encounter was last year, when a 3.5m great white charged at him. He said the shark came at speed towards him then diverted 45 degrees when it got 3m away. He attributed this to the electronic deterrent device attached to his surfboard.

“There’s usually got to be reasons for sharks to come in close,” he added.

A local fishing website reported this month that salmon were being consistently caught at most Esperance beaches as well as “loads of small pink snapper”.aa

Last June, Doreen Collyer, 60, died after being attacked by a large great white as she scuba dived off the Perth coast.

In October, 2013 diver Greg Pickering was attacked by a shark about 180 kilometres east of Esperance.

KS tosses a sick throw-away. Like us!
KS tosses a sick throw-away. Like us!

Easter Miracle: Kelly and Mick look awful!

Two of the greatest surfers on earth bog and flail! They're just like us!

Did you stay up late (in America) or spend your holiday (in Australia) waiting for Kelly Slater vs. Mick Fanning in Round Three of the Bells Classic brought to you by Barton Lynch and ski gloves? The match materialized, after Fanning beat Ethan Ewing. Kelly Slater had gone straight from Round One after beating Josh Kerr and Ian Gouveiar. It was hinted that this was the earliest in a professional surf event the two titans had ever met.

It was an Easter Miracle!

Both surfers have been on, or near, the top for so long that expectations soared. Plus the waves at Winkipop seemed custom made for a clean, knowledgeable attack. And lets not forget Mick’s attempted take-down of Kelly at Snapper. Asking him about his oven mitt or something to which Kelly kicked Mick under the nearest passing bus.

They paddled out, the world on the edge of its seat, and…

…surfed terribly! Both of them! Hitching turns, bogging rail, falling, falling, falling, mistiming sections, claiming 6 point rides, paddling way to far up the point, falling.

I have no idea which angle Stab was watching. Their morning’s coverage reads:

The biggest matchup of the day went down between Mick Fanning and Kelly Slater in heat four of round three. And while Kelly certainly showed up, Mick was efficient, utilising a similar tactic in vein to his heat prior with Ethan. Mick’s critical wave selection provided him with the long, open faces he needed in order to wrap and run circles around Kelly. With two scoring rides of a 7.00 and 6.50, Mick sent Kelly packing from the Australian leg of the tour after he managed to pick up only a 6.83 and 5.60.

None of this happened, other than the scores, which brings us to the true Easter Miracle.

For one brief 40 minute window in time every third surfer from Tijuana to Ventura and every second surfer from Melbourne to Surfers Paradise was better than both Kelly Slater and Mick Fanning. Pat yourself on the back and order yourself a custom made WSL singlet with your name on it.

Way to go, tiger. You earned it.