Revealed: Diver wearing govt-subsidised shark repellant when killed by Great White: “About nine out of ten times it does work.”

Shark repellants. They work until they don't.

On Sunday, diver Gary Johnson was killed by a Great White shark minutes after entering the water off Esperance in Western Australia’s south-east.

Johnson’s wife, Karen Milligan, was in the water when the White attacked.

“I tried to hit the tail of the shark but it did nothing,” she told The Australian.

Milligan’s emergency call was succinct.

“My husband’s been taken by a Great White,” she told police operators.

Equally ineffective was Johnson’s government-subsidised Shark Shield, a device that can be attached to a surfboard or ankle.

In a social media post from 2017, Johnson had praised the device.

“In my nine years diving in Esperance (most weekends – weather permitting) I have only seen one shark – a bronze whaler who showed absolutely no interest in me,” he wrote.

The state’s Fisheries Minister, Peter Tinley, admitted the Shark Shields weren’t “fail-safe.”

“Nine out of times it does work,” he said.

Shark repellants do present an interesting case given their effectiveness is rarely tested.

Do you remember Modom’s $250 shark leash, built with magnets from New Jersey-based SharkDefense, a company that also sold a Batman-style shark repellant spray.

When Florida surfer Zack  Davis was hit by a black tip while wearing a Sharkbanz bracelet he was contacted by the company who said it was the first time anyone had been attacked while wearing the magical trinket.

“What happened here is essentially the rarest of shark encounters,” co-founder Nathan Garrison said.

And Shark Shields?

They work until they don’t.

This abalone diver, Peter Clarkson, also from Esperance, praised Shark Shields in a testimony on the company’s website only to be killed by two Whites in South Australia.

It’s unknown whether he was wearing the device or whether or not it was switched on.

Same with Johnson although you would think he’d flick the switch when he jumped in the water.

Hits by sharks in the pretty coastal hamlet aren’t a rarity.

In 2017, seventeen-year-old surfer Laeticia Brouwer died after being mauled by a Great White at a popular wave in Esperance called Kelpies.

In 2014, surfer Sean Pollard lost an arm and both hands in an attack during a solo sesh at Wylie Bay.

Meanwhile, police divers continue the search for Johnson’s body.

What if your kids could see you in your prime? Would they be very impressed or horrified?
What if your kids could see you in your prime? Would they be very impressed or horrified?

Brave thoughts on Cowardice: “At what point do we reconsider? When is it time to put on the brakes a bit?”

(You’re welcome you rotten kids)

I’m not young or old but a thought just struck me that might be of interest.


Going down a mine shaft, a firery, crewing an Aleutian crab boat, an LAPD cop? Risky jobs, sure but Surfing 12-15’ pipe for a living is right up there for sheer danger.

At what point do we reconsider?

I used to enjoy pushing myself to my limit*. Now I just enjoy dodging fear.

A mate of mine, a very good snowboarder and a fellow grommet team member’s dad. Went down a green run carrying a backpack with a water bottle in it. For reasons unexplained he went over a medium jump backwards (dodging someone?)

18 fractures in 11 ribs. 10% chance of survival. Has since improved (thank Twillsy) and has narrowly escaped death or permanent disability.

On to Kohl Christensen. I’ve been following this guy’s career for years. Same vintage as Kelly. A perennial Wave of the Winter guy. Amazing surfer.

We’re all WOTW guys in our own right, I suppose. In our own fields or great passions but when is it time to put on the brakes a bit?

I’ve got two young kids that constantly piss me off and impress me occasionally.

I’d do anything for them.

I’ve lead a reckless and selfish life and still do. Not as extreme as Kohl, or Chesser, or Brock, or Jay but just as risky and frivolous in different ways that might even horrify the above mentioned.

But I want to be around for my kids.

Divorce, booze, depression, temptation, addiction, selfishness, can lead even the strongest of us astray.

Forget oxy, Stoli, coke (sniff here) a nice Malbec or 6, adrenaline is as dangerous a drug as any of ’em.

As our skill sets decline should not our desire to be doing double back flips or pulling into close outs at 12-15’ pipe decline also?

I’m doing my bit.

(You’re welcome you rotten kids)


R. Matic


Justin Trudeau (pictured left) not in Costa Rica.
Justin Trudeau (pictured left) not in Costa Rica.

“World’s Sexiest Head of State” and Canadian Justin Trudeau goes on holiday surf vacation to Costa Rica!

"Happy to life!"

It is wonderful to know that while the world burns both literally (Australia) and figuratively (Iran) that important heads of state can still carve out some much needed “me time.” Politicians… they’re just like us! And Canada’s own Prime Minister, the universally declared “Sexiest Leader of a Nation in both the Developed and Non Categories” Justin Trudeau just returned from a much needed surf vacation down to sunny Costa Rica.

The Ontario native is no “first timer” as it were. Nine-some months ago, he traveled across his Great White North to surf Tofino. At the time, Canadian press excoriated their beloved first son because, “The family trip, which was expected to have emitted more carbon than an average Canadian does in a year, is once again being investigated by the Lobbying Commissioner.”

Canadians… they’re just like us!

In any case, the Costa Rica surf adventure was, by all accounts, happy but let’s not speculate. Let’s go directly to The Costa Rica News for slippahs-on-the-ground reportage:

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau left Costa Rican territory on Saturday after having enjoyed the waves in the Central Pacific.

Trudeau said he was “fascinated” with the country and said he will return, said the pilot Everardo Carmona, owner of the CarmonAir Charter line and responsible for returning the president to the Juan Santamaría International Airport (AIJS) in Alajuela.

He came to surf, happy of life. To spend the end of the year with his family (his wife Sophie Grégoire, and their children Xavier, Ella-Grace, and Hadrien) and what he was sharing with them, “said the aviator in a telephone conversation with The Observer.

He was fascinated with the country. That he returns is what he says, “he added.”

Happy to life.

Costa Ricans… they’re just like us!

Obscure retro-surf IG account raises $50k for bushfire relief from sport’s superstars!

“Nearly every coastal town from Noosa to Bells has been affected by these fires, so the great Australian surfing adventure depicted in Morning of the Earth now looks more like Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome."

A deep, dark heat sits over Australia. The rump of our continent burns. You’ve heard the high level stats. Millions of hectares, thousands of properties, dozens of lives taken. Thirty thousand koalas cooked.

But it goes further than that.

Stories of despair and near escapes that you won’t read about in the media are instead are traded in the line up, at the pub, on worksites. It’s estimated a third of the country’s population of twenty-five mill has been exposed to dangerous smoke levels.

As well, a vacuum of national leadership and a stilted response to the catastrophe has left a whole lotta Australians feeling helpless. Lost.

Many are taking things into their own hands.

In two days “the funniest woman on Instagram” Celeste Barber (yes, she of WSL fame) has raised more than $20 million for Australia’s volunteer firefighters via an online funding pledge.

And in the surf world, mysterious underground icon and purveyor of holy artefacts @surfcore2001 has commissioned a one-off run of shirts bearing his iconic label, with all profits going to the fireys and WIRES, a wildlife rescue and rehabilitation charity.

Surfcore’s own childhood town was blasted by the fires back in November, as have so many other iconic surf communities before and since then.

“Nearly every coastal town from Noosa to Bells has been affected by these fires, so the great Australian surfing adventure depicted in Morning of the Earth now looks more like Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome,” said Core from his bunker somewhere in the Byron Bay hinterland.

He decided to act.

But what he initially thought would be a trickle of responses has turned into an outpouring of support through the aperture of Australian power surf nostalgia.

Buy in from the core has been overwhelming.

Nineties headliners Margo, Trent Munro, Mick Lowe, Jeremy Byles have all made purchases, along with countless everyday followers.

And so have the A-listers: Slater, Gilmore, Taj, Craig Ando, Luke Egan, the Gudangs.

Even Jessie Milley Dyer put it an order from her Santa Monica high castle.

In less than 24 hours Surfcore has already raised $40,000 for the cause.

“I never wanted to see a VAL or corporate reptile donning my sacred sigils (Maurice Cole tribute logo and Matt Hoy cranking a raucous nooner on the back). But I think I’m ok with a few real estate moguls and WSL employees running the shirt knowing the money is going somewhere good.”

Core reckons getting behind the effort is a no-brainer.

“The act of surfing is as immersed in nature as you can get. Actually, I once saw a photo of a guy with his dick in a beehive, so maybe surfing is a close second. But the Australian east coast to me is the most beautiful and pristine coastal ecosystem on earth, and to see it scorched like this is crushing. Anything we can do to help douse the flames and get our land and people rebuilding is a good thing.”

And to the leaders of Australia, the current high priest of lowbrow surf culture says this:

“Tell your story walking, cunts. Tools down, we want you off site. Our country is in a national crisis, the death toll is rising and our Prime Minister is mincing about Hawaii hoping to brush shoulders with Kelly and his sociopathic soul brother Gabs. Fuckwit behaviour.

(For those not fully apprised of our leader’s current litany of failures go tune in to Sean Doherty’s Instagram).

I mean, Scomo’s not provoking a ground war in the Middle East, but he’s having a shocker none the less.”

Pre-orders can still be made, and Core will ship worldwide.

Fifty bucks, Australian.

Cut off will be Tuesday at noon(er) AEDT so get in quick.

Which should go?
Which should go?

Bait and Switch: Family made famous for feeding their young children to “ravenous” Great Whites come under fire for “duping fans!”

“Shady or, at the very least, very confusing."

“Being sold a bill of goods” is one of my very favorite aphorisms. Have you heard? Used yourself? I won’t get into the linguistically gorgeous joys but, basically, it means “swindled.”

Have you ever been? Ever not read the fine print or bought a new car off the lot?

Well, you will certainly understand the outrage surrounding the “Bucket List Family” made famous for throwing their very young children into a shark cage with regulators that didn’t fit their tiny, little mouths.

And over the just-passed holidays, the Bucket Lists offered their fans some too-good-to-be-true giveaway that turned out to be just that, thus coming under much anger. Shall we read from once-important BuzzFeed? Of course!

This week, angry fans said they felt duped by a popular Instagram account that did not make clear the full details about a massive annual giveaway for free trips around the world. Some people even argued that the lapse in disclosure allowed the family’s account to rack up a lot more engagement and followers.

What we know so far is thanks largely to a lawyer named Paige Griffith, from Montana, who spent her holidays digging and posting about the debacle to her Instagram stories. More from her later.

The Gee family, more ubiquitously known as the Bucket List Family by their more than 2.4 million Instagram followers, are five self-proclaimed nomads who travel the world for content. This lifestyle was possible after dad Garrett Gee reportedly sold his app to Snapchat for $54 million in 2015. You love to hate to be envious to see it.

Each year, parents Garrett and Jessica host a huge giveaway series they call “12 Days of Bucket List Christmas.” The idea is that for 12 days at the end of the year, they surprise “families in need with a gift that means so much to [their] own family: the gift of travel,” Jessica told me. This year’s destinations include Tanzania, Hawaii, Fiji, Disney World in Orlando, and more. It’s a huge, commendable idea, and fans get excited about it every year.

This year, however, the family’s latest posts about their giveaways have been flooded with comments from frustrated fans who say the whole thing was carried out in a way they felt was “shady” or, at the very least, very confusing.

And that’s all I need. Fans of the Bucket Lists who felt “duped.”

What a crock and I’m busily planning a shark diving trip with my daughter. Sure she’s six, no longer five, but beggars can’t be choosers.

Families that look thusly while riding a bunch of hideous mid-lengths…

…are up to something and I’ll get to the bottom of it shortly.

More as the story develops.