Hungry Orca pod protects surfers from Great White Sharks on the day of the Year; eats humpback calf to celebrate!

Why the Orca is the surfer's new best friend…

Spring has sprung Downunder, which means, at least on the once bucolic but now rapidly gentrifying North Coast, the very worst time of year for surf. Also, statistically the highest chance of getting bit by a White shark.

An excellent reason to stay out of the water and practise the new sub-sub genre of surfing: seasonal quitting.

Except when an out-of-season swell arrives and all the local Byron-Ballina point breaks; some of the very best sub-tropical surf in the world is firing, which is what happened this weekend. It came with a full moon and very many bait-balls, diving birds and instructions from authorities on every local sign that surfing in bait-balls can be bad for your health.

BeachGrit numbers man Jazzy P surfed the Point mid-morning on a classic overcast sharky-as-fuck day and reported an encounter with a grey suit shadowing a bait-ball around mid-morning. Thankfully, the surfer’s new best friends in the war against maneating White sharks were close at hand and made a dramatic cameo.

The Orca, unlike the Swedish, the Spanish, the French, the Austrian or the Swiss adult learner, is not considered a common sighting in the sub-tropics.

On Saturday, a pod of thirty Orcas was sighted just offshore between Ballina and Lennox Head by local whale watching outfit Out of the Blue adventures with principal Dean Fuchs describing it as one of “the most amazing sights he had ever seen out on the ocean”.

While it is their talent in moving on White sharks which endears them to surfers, in Saturdays episode it was a hapless baby Humpback which ended up on the wrong side of the apex predators’ appetite.

According to his Facebook post, Mr Fuchs said a mother Humpback whale, a calf and a male escort Humpback whale were frolicking in the calm conditions when a pod of about 30 Orcas emerged.

The Orcas managed to separate the calf from the adult Humpbacks before drowning and devouring it.

Mr Fuchs said the Killer Whales then surrounded the tour boat for more than two hours and seemed to be celebrating their kill by bringing a bit of blubber over to the boat.

As reported in the local ABC news Jules Farrell, vice-president of the Organisation for the Rescue and Research of Cetaceans in Australia, said the kill off Ballina was classic Orca behaviour.

Ms Farrell said the animals followed the Humpback pods, particularly on their southern migration to Antarctica when they were travelling with juveniles. What was unusual about this kill, she said, was the Orcas devouring the entire calf instead of their usual practice of just eating the tongue and the cheeks as a “delicacy”.

Claims the disappearance of White sharks from Capetown’s False Bay have been caused by Orca predation have been disputed by marine biologist Dr Sara Andreotti.

She said, “I cannot believe that two Orcas would make an entire White shark population disappear from the most important site around the coastline”.

It does seem feasible though that the Ballinese Orca pod, capable of feasting on an entire whale and showing off by bringing blubber to tourists could easily eradicate, or at least intimidate out of the area, the troublesome Byron-Ballina White shark aggregations.

Or is that just wishful thinking?

Today, and just to celebrate, I surfed the sharkiest wave in the area and felt deliciously safe thanks to our Orca pals.


Instant Classic: Come read the instructional children’s bedtime story “Hey, Little Grom!”

Instructional and fun.

As you know, I am a parent and proud. There’s nothing like watching a young sprout grow, develop, learn. It’s pure, unadulterated joy though the parent’s job, of course, is to provide some limited form of guidance along the way. Guardrails or bumpers. And this often comes through the reading of bedtime children’s stories that contain instructional hints as the little explorers, all tuckered out from days filled with magic, are in a listening mood.

There are many, many, many classics. The collected works of Dr. Seuss, Goodnight Moon, Blueberries for Sal but to name just three. Unaware of any surfing classics I decided to write my own. It needs illustrations but feel free to test it out on your young one tonight.

Hey little grom…we’re happy you’re here!
The world is big with so much to explore!
You can climb mountains…
…cross deserts…
…or surf the waves!

And if you surf the waves…

…never ride a mid-length, longboard or SUP and consider those who do with much disdain.

Keep your little mouth shut in the lineup. Emphasize NOT talking about the last time you surfed Mexico, how you surfed earlier or what board you are currently riding but feel free to whistle loudly if anyone ever drops in on you.

And if they don’t hear your whistle and keep cruising down YOUR wave yell “HEY!” when you are right behind them.

And if they don’t react growl, “Fucking kook…” as you’re paddling back out.

Never pull back if you’re sitting on the peak and in position…

But if daddy or mommy is on the peak paddling don’t even look at that wave. Just pretend it doesn’t exist. This is a very important lesson and will serve you well when you travel to Hawaii because there you pretend native Hawaiians and an assorted grab bag of locals are all mommies and daddies.

And when the sun sinks, so big and so orange into the water so deep and so blue it is time to stop surfing for the day.

If you see a grown man, in the lot, using a bucket and hose contraption to carefully rinse the salt off his wetsuit and the sand off his feet stare at him until he feels the appropriate shame then shake your head in disgust.

Don’t put your board on the roof of your car with its nose pointed forward even if you are driving a Jeep.

You’d better not be driving a Jeep.

THE END


He was so happy looking, drawing a perfect line or the only line you can draw on a 1.3 foot wave, that I wanted to high-five him while standing in three feet of water — just like Kelly did to Machado at Pipe. But it was not Pipe and well under 1.3 foot Hawaiian and he was going right, not left, and my high-five would have been with my right hand not left, and a world title wasn’t on the line, but instead a fragile reintroduction surf session that could go sideways with one bogged rail turn due to an attempted high-five.

Quit-lit: Non-surfing surf historian Matt Warshaw goes surfing!

"He was so happy looking!"

Yesterday, BeachGrit reader Jeremy Sterling sent an urgent note to the editors concerning prominent quit-litter Matt Warshaw, the surf historian who folded up his surf career when he moved to Seattle eight years ago.

“I’m happier than I’ve ever been,” said Matt in an interview two months ago. “The target, or sweet spot, or pleasure zone, got smaller and smaller, and I got tired of firing and missing. It dipped way below that 9-to-1 ratio, and I buckled… I was good at surfing for a long time, and was still good now and then when I stopped, but the trend was obvious, and getting out was the right thing to do. I should have stopped two or three years earlier.”

Jeremy’s note reads.

Matt came out of retirement today and you should chat with him.

Here are a few details.

He surfed pumping Westport Washington— 1.3 feet @ 13 seconds SW swell, NE winds 10 knots. Perfect little waves bouncing off the Jetty making knee to waist high peelers. Matt ripped it on a 7’0’ Rawson with too much rocker and three glassed on fins all of which had been broken and fixed.

The board sings to you as you ride. He caught five legit 1.3 foot waves, found the pocket, had a few half cocked off the tops, and smiles all around.Sun setting at end of a beautiful fall day in the PacNW with his wife and son beaching it and making Halloween art with my wife and son. A perfect reintroduction to surfing on a rare small day this time of year in WA.

He was so happy looking, drawing a perfect line or the only line you can draw on a 1.3 foot wave, that I wanted to high-five him while standing in three feet of water — just like Kelly did to Machado at Pipe. But it was not Pipe and well under 1.3 foot Hawaiian and he was going right, not left, and my high-five would have been with my right hand not left, and a world title wasn’t on the line, but instead a fragile reintroduction surf session that could go sideways with one bogged rail turn due to an attempted high-five.

So I didn’t high-five him and instead continued having a blast surfing small waves with a great friend I hadn’t surfed with in a long time. Yes, one of those only a surfer knows the feeling moments. Post-surf bourbon and Modelo and a halibut, salmon, squash, and salad dinner followed with wine and conversation. Good times all around!

Some notable moments. He was frothing enough to skip the towel around the waist and show off the sausage and meatballs mid-conversation. I had no time to adjust or avert my eyes.

So, yeah, I saw Matt Warshaw’s dick.

He was a “rebel” drinking his modelo while I drove home… looking out for cops.

I contacted Warshaw who says he “stood and trimmed on tiny beautiful waves using ill-fitting borrowed wetsuit and triple step-up board and felt like Mikey Feb. My pop-up is tree-time slow. My slouching down-the-line angling is sublime.”

Of course, the obvious question is, how did it feel?

“Nothing like it used to feel but still great.  Jodi and Teddy were on the jetty and they waved wildly at me after I kicked out. I couldn’t stop smiling paddling back out. Yeah it was nice.”


Indentured servitude: Professional surfers sign “record-breaking” 10-year contract with World Surf League!

"...a great symbol of the long-term commitment, trust and confidence the surfers have in the WSL!"

I’m going to be very honest with you here. I have been aware, at different times during my long and illustrious surf journalism career, that professional surfers have a “union” and it’s called World Professional Surfers or WPS.

To be honest, I don’t know what it does so forget about it for three to four year stretches then remember it again when the World Surf League, or WSL, and WPS sign a “record-breaking” 10-year contract.

I assume the WPS union bosses know something I don’t about negotiating etc. but… 10-years? Why? Like……….. seriously, why? And let’s go to the press release for more.

The global professional surfers’ representative body, World Professional Surfers (WPS), today announced a historic 10-year agreement with the World Surf League (WSL), marking the longest partnership agreement in history between the two groups.

‘The working relationship between the WPS and the WSL has strengthened significantly in recent years and we’re very pleased to announce the 10-year agreement between the surfers and the League today,’ Christian Beserra, WPS COO, said. ‘It’s a great symbol of the long-term commitment, trust and confidence the surfers have in the WSL and the direction that ownership and management are taking the sport of surfing. It will be great for the Athletes to continue to have a world-class platform to perform on for many years to come.’

Crowning the undisputed World Champions since 1976 – first as the International Professional Surfers (IPS), then as the Association of Surfing Professionals (ASP) – the World Surf League (WSL) runs a global tour for the world’s best surfers at some of the most premium surfing locations on the planet.

‘The WSL has transformed the sport of surfing so much in the last few years and the elevation of how we’re treated as athletes is really important,’ Adrian Buchan, Championship Tour surfer and Surfer Representative, said. ‘The next decade is poised to be the most exciting in the sport’s history and we look forward to continuing to build this together.’

Acquired in 2012, the then-ASP-now-WSL aggregated all the previously-disparate aspects of the sport under a singular organization. It has invested heavily in the quality of venues, broadcast and promotion of professional surfing for its international audience, which has resulted in quantum shifts in terms of performance from the world’s best surfers and significantly growing interest from fans and partners around the world.

So 10-years with a strong “working relationship” between the masters and the busy-bees?

Ace? You negotiated a 10-year banger? For…………..?

Seriously, and someone tell me true, has China already taken everything over?

Even my Australian blue-collar man Ace Buchan?

Even Co-Waterperson of the Year Dirk Ziff?

Does this wildness not read as straight propaganda?

More as the story develops.


"Look at me! Look at me!"

Grinch-like “man-eating” Great White sharks flock to Carpinteria’s Santa Claus Beach, steal spotlight from happy dolphins!

Bah humbug.

Will enough attention ever be enough? Must “man-eating” Great Whites arrogantly show up en masse, destroying the peace and tranquility of my once peaceful and tranquil Cardiff by the Sea and also take a giant bite out of Christmas? Do the prehistoric beasts have even the tiniest modicum of humility? A thimbleful of reserve?

It appears not as yesterday, for the fourth consecutive year, the apex predators showed up by the tens upon tens off Santa Claus Beach in Carpinteria, very near Santa Barbara, and stole the spotlight from both Jolly Old Saint Nick and nature’s most lovable dolphins and let us quickly turn to Santa Barbara’s local ABC affiliate for the blood-curdling details.

A phenomenon that’s attracted documentary film crews from around the globe has returned to the beaches off Padaro Lane.

For the past three or four years, great white sharks have been spotted along the same stretch of Carpinteria coastline. Experts say before then, spotting a great white was a freakish encounter, with one or two a year in the early 2000s.

The dolphins put on a show today at Santa Claus Beach Wednesday. Jon Shafer says the great white sharks are looking for some applause too.

“Within 15 seconds of my launching my drone I had a shark in my eyesight and I flew around for an hour and I saw 10 to 15 different sharks,” said Shafer, a local surf photographer, shark enthusiast, and fisherman.

Shafer says there’s been a large presence of great whites along Padaro Lane’s coastline every fall and spring for the past three or four years. He’s been on the lookout and finally got a tip on Monday that the boys are back in town.

“The main theory is that the sharks that used to inhabit the waters to the south of us and the north of us have been crowded out so much so the younger sharks are having to find new homes,” said Shafer.

Danielle Escalera’s husband is known to surf in the area. “I get a little nervous, I make sure he doesn’t wear his wedding ring to attract them with the glitter,” she said.

Shafer worries that people are underestimating the risks and inherent dangers of sharks just because they aren’t 15-feet-long, yet.

“I know people go out, actively seeking, I want to paddle with the sharks, yeah nobody’s been hurt yet but my fear is, something that came to, like with the Conception disaster, sooner or later something bad is going to happen and then people are going to be really up in arms about it,” said Shafer.

Shafer’s drone footage reveals the same apex predators returning year after year and swimming in knee-deep water. “What was a five or six-foot shark three, four years ago, is now a seven, eight, nine-foot shark,” he adds.

Stealing the spotlight from Jolly Old Saint Nick, nature’s most lovable dolphins and also maybe literally stealing Danielle Escalera’s husband? How will they know he’s spoken for sans wedding ring? To be quite honest, I don’t think they’d even care. Sharks, especially “man-eating” Great Whites have been known to revel in their reputation as both man-eaters and home wreckers. I bet these randy juveniles wouldn’t bat a nictitating membrane at sweeping Mr. Escalera off his feet, leaving beautiful Danielle home alone singing mournful Taylor Swift songs.

Cold-hearted bastards.

Cold-cold-hearted bastards.