A Great White is captured, tagged, released. | Photo: Department of Primary Industries

Man killed by suspected Great White in Esperance, Western Australia; two years since town’s last fatal attack by White on 17-year-old surfer

"They are still searching the ocean for the victim."

A recreational diver has died after being hit by a suspected Great White shark near Cull Island around 1:00pm, WST, on Sunday.

Early reports suggest the man, named as Gary Johnson, lost his arm fending off a Great White.

From the police presser:

“Esperance Police and Marine Rescue WA volunteers deployed to the area on board marine rescue vessels. They are still searching the ocean for the victim. A woman who was on board the boat at the time of the incident has been returned to shore, and has been taken by St John Ambulance to hospital. She is suffering from shock.”

Two years ago, seventeen-year-old surfer Laeticia Brouwer died after being hit by a White at a popular wave in Esperance called Kelpies.

By coincidence, the surfer and doctor Jon Cohen, whom we interviewed a month ago about how to save someone who has been bitten by a shark and who sells tourniquets for surfers on his website, is currently working in the emergency department at Esperance Hospital where he is believed to be comforting the diver’s wife.

In that early interview, Jon spoke of the effect Laeticia’s death had on hospital personnel.

“I know some guys who were in the ED that day and it was a traumatic experience to manage. Cases like the are preventable deaths. People can act on the beach if they’re there when it happens. It might be scary to talk about but it’s reassuring to know that there is something you can do and it’s not complicated.”

Still, you gotta get ’em to the beach or a boat.

According to a report from the ABC, local man Glenn Quinlivan heard a mayday call his wife and raced to the scene in his boat.

“There was nothing to see,” he said.

All beaches in the area will be closed until Monday.

Kelly Slater adopts provocative pro-science stance in Australian bushfire debate: “One of my biggest fears as a kid was fires.”

"Mismanagement of forest underbrush back-burning in the winter months and overall water resources have helped create a perfect storm in the face of this drought," says 11-timer.

A recap.

Australia, if you’ve missed the blanket reporting, has been ablaze across its eastern and southern coasts since September.

Sixteen-million acres scorched, thirteen hundred houses gone, twenty-five dead.

Like most matters that require sound and rational thinking, fingers are instead being pointed this way and that way depending on which way you swing politically.

If you call yourself a progressive, it’s proof of the world’s imminent climate change apocalypse.

Yesterday, The New York Times ran an op-ed by the Australian author Richard Flanagan titled “Australia is Committing Climate Suicide.

Australia today is ground zero for the climate catastrophe. Its glorious Great Barrier Reef is dying, its world-heritage rain forests are burning, its giant kelp forests have largely vanished, numerous towns have run out of water or are about to, and now the vast continent is burning on a scale never before seen.

The images of the fires are a cross between “Mad Max” and “On the Beach”: thousands driven onto beaches in a dull orange haze, crowded tableaux of people and animals almost medieval in their strange muteness — half-Bruegel, half-Bosch, ringed by fire, survivors’ faces hidden behind masks and swimming goggles. Day turns to night as smoke extinguishes all light in the horrifying minutes before the red glow announces the imminence of the inferno. Flames leaping 200 feet into the air. Fire tornadoes. Terrified children at the helm of dinghies, piloting away from the flames, refugees in their own country.

From The Sydney Morning Herald,

“It needn’t be happening. We’re breathing woodsmoke, flavoured with burnt echidna, but it’s (prime minister) Scott Morrison’s coal-fuelled fire that’s turning our lovely world to ash.”

Those on the right point to arson and a lack of preventative back-burning for the catastrophe and cite a prominent bushfire scientist’s warning of disaster back in 2015, and published, ironically, yes, in the left-wing journal The Age.

Forest fuel levels have worsened over the past 30 years because of “misguided green ideology”, vested interests, political failure and mismanagement, creating a massive bushfire threat, a former CSIRO bushfire scientist has warned.

Victoria’s “failed fire management policy” is an increasing threat to human life, water supplies, property and the forest environment, David Packham said in a submission to the state’s Inspector-General for Emergency Management.

And he argued that unless the annual fuel reduction burning target, currently at a minimum of 5 per cent of public land, “is doubled or preferably tripled, a massive bushfire disaster will occur. The forest and alpine environment will decay and be damaged possibly beyond repair and homes and people [will be] incinerated.”

He said forest fuel levels had climbed to their most dangerous level in thousands of years.

And, now, Kelly Slater, 11-timer, lover of conspiracy theories and so on, has, surprisingly, gone for the latter and not, as one might expect, the former.

“I’m not sure a picture could better sum up the fear and devastation more succinctly,” Kelly wrote to his 2.6 million followers. “I’m no expert but from the messages and reading I’ve done on the subject, mismanagement of forest underbrush back-burning in the winter months and overall water resources have helped create a perfect storm in the face of this drought. I hope there is a silver lining and important lessons learned from the ongoing catastrophes once the dust settles. One of my biggest fears as a kid was fires and ironically enough, my mom was a firefighter. Maybe one created the other.”

To which you reply?

Female Great White shark (pictured) being sad.
Female Great White shark (pictured) being sad.

Official investigation launched into “big fat guy” and friends who dragged female Great White shark to New Zealand beach and mocked her as she died!

The plot thickens...

Was it yesterday, or two days ago, that we first learned about the heart-wrenching tale of a near-10-foot long female Great White shark that was allegedly netted and dragged to a New Zealand beach to die?

Time and events related to the “man-eating” apex predators, their various escapades, their man-eating etc. are starting to blur but we must not be deterred, we cannot be deterred because then the terrorists win.

But who are the terrorists in this particular New Zealand case? The Great White, who likely man-eats or would man-eat if given the opportunity, or the men, who allegedly netted, dragged, kicked and mocked as she lay there on the sand?

New Zealand’s proud government has just launched an official investigation into the matter and let us go straight to RNZ for first hand accounts.

The juvenile shark was caught in a fishing net off Orewa Beach in northern Auckland yesterday and died despite bystanders’ attempts to help.

Men who were fishing in the surf caught the 2.75m great white in a net and hauled it to shore.

A woman who was at the beach told RNZ that the group seemed intent on keeping the shark and acted in an intimidating way towards those who wanted to return it to the water.

She asked not to be identified.

“They were touching it, rolling it [and] the big fat guy did kick it,” she said.

“It was just disrespectful, and it was probably, like, intimidation as well. And that was the same guy that asked for someone to go get a knife.”

But the woman’s husband and surf lifeguards managed to pull the shark into water deep enough for it to float.

“When my husband and the lifeguards pulled it out, they were just taunting them and kicking water at them and just basically trying to get them not to take it out.”

When the shark didn’t swim off, she says the men who caught it dragged it back to shore after a minute or two.

She said she wished they’d given it more time to recuperate – even though it was probably too late to save it.

The sharks body lies in state in a university freezer.

And like the current perilous ratcheting up of tension between shark and man very much mirrors the situation between The United States of America and Iran. Retaliation expected etc. but will it be symmetrical or will the prehistoric beasts eat 20 of the world’s top 24 professional surfers before the start of their 2020 Championship Tour?

Let’s not speculate wildly. Let’s follow the evidence where it leads and hope for peace in our time.

Listen: “Is our World Surf League a sort of Pinocchio Pleasure Island where fun-lovin’ men and women are lured, turned into donkeys then sold?”

Very scary.

And I’m starting to become worried, to become, at the very least, concerned. The World Surf League’s President of Content, Media, Studio, Etc. Erik “ELo” Logan announced his departure from the Oprah Winfrey network, embrace of “a new journey” through the exciting universe of professional surfing almost exactly one year ago from today.

Big dreams.

A bigger smile.

Oh we mocked, chuckled, cajoled because that’s what we do. His Instagram profile featured picture after picture of bigger smiles, SUP-life, Manhattan Beach shred fun, ripping, a thorough, joyful expression of surfing’s uplifting qualities. Its unique ability to inspire and heal. Its transformative properties, as it were.

Two months ago, President Logan went missing. One month ago I became worried, sarcastically, and wrote a story.

Today I am genuinely concerned for last night I had a terrible nightmare. That the Ziffs, Co-Waterpeople of the Year Dirk and Natasha, were actually very bad slave traders who lured simple, kind folk struck blind by the glories of surfing to Santa Monica. There they met Kelly Slater, “worked” on professional surfing, told their friends, “Can you believe I get to do this for a living?” Threw shakas, drank hazelnut/kona blend coffees.

Then, when they reached peak “stoke” the Ziffs would turn them into donkeys and sell them to the highest bidder for lives of toil in the salt mines. Very much like the whole Pleasure Island, originally called “Boobyland,” scenario in the Walt Disney classic Pinocchio.

A horrible, terrible nightmare but could it actually be true?

David Lee Scales and I discussed the possibility yesterday and also many other things tangentially related to this grand surfing salt mine life. Worth a listen?

Yes, but only if you yourself would not like to be turned from wooden boy into beast of burden.

Surfer Adam Coons, with gift of stuffed Great White. | Photo: @adamcoons

Surfer attacked by Fifteen-foot Great White four days before Christmas and his rescuer talk about hit: “The shark had him in [its] mouth!”

"It felt like I just got blasted by a torpedo. I didn't feel the bite from the adrenaline and then I was immediately underwater getting thrashed."

Four days before Christmas, Californian surfer Adam Coons was hit by what he and his lifeguard buddy, Jez Howard, estimated to be a fifteen-foot Great White while surfing at Santa Rosa island, twenty-six miles off Santa Babs.

If you’ve ever been to Santa Babs, you might’ve stared at the Channel Islands out there on the horizon, these inconvenient land masses that block all the summer south swells.

Santa Rosa is the second biggest. Plenty of waves, too, if you like ’em uncrowded.

As we reported at the time, it was Jez who saved Adam’s life with his practised use of tourniquets, a simple device that can save almost anyone who’s been hit by a shark. 

Now, Adam and Jez have appeared on ABC News to talk about the attack.

“It felt like I just got blasted by a torpedo,” said Coons. “I didn’t feel the bite from the adrenaline and then I was immediately underwater getting thrashed.”

Jez saw it all from the boat.

“I looked up and the white shark was hitting at him, it took him out of the water probably I’d say about five feet, ya know the shark had him in [its] mouth. I just said ‘Come on buddy, you can make it.'”

Coons said his survival was due to the actions of his pal, the professionalism of the local Coast Guard and the miracle of Christmas.

“If any of these puzzle pieces didn’t come together, I don’t believe I would be here right now… I don’t know why it’s me and my family that get to stay together, while others have lost so much, and why I am keeping my legs and why I will have full recovery, except to hopefully inspire others to not give up on their passions and for families to hear the story of a Christmas miracle and to come together during the holidays no matter what might have been otherwise standing between them…I know that this is the plan for me and I don’t intend to squander this new lease on life.”

Coons also had his recently departed ma helping.

“My guardian angel, my mom, who was there as a lone seagull following the boat keeping a watchful eye until the chopper arrived.”

Coons says he’s unsure when he’ll surf again.