"For science!"
"For science!"

Modern biologists take Stalin-esque approach to endangered shark species, encouraging the killing of “vicious apex predators” to obtain “lethal samples!”

"You can't make an omelette without breaking a few Chondrichthyes."

Except where do you place yourself on the sliding Hippocratic scale? The “Do no harm” one? Let’s place Jains at one end, carefully tiptoeing around so as not to step on and thereby kill any bugs. Wearing face masks so as not to breathe any airborne organisms in thereby killing them and let’s place cattle butchers on the other end. Big burly men whacking gentle cows in the head with some giant bolt that penetrates their brains.

But where are you? Do you eat Impossible Burgers sometimes or never?

And where would you place conservationist-leaning biologists?

I think you’ll be as surprised as me to learn they are much closer to the butcher than the Jain and let’s learn all about their bloodlust for “lethal samples” in the very latest Scientific American.

Sharks are some of the most fascinating, most misunderstood and most threatened animals in the world. Many scientists of my generation chose to study these amazing animals explicitly because they’re threatened, and because science can help; this was a major motivation for my choice to pursue a career as a marine conservation biologist, and a major influence in similar decisions by other shark researchers whom I surveyed. As we progress through our education, some of us are surprised to learn that effectively protecting entire species of sharks sometimes requires killing individual sharks—and many non-expert shark enthusiasts are outright shocked to learn this.

Every once in a while, this conflict between the goals of animal welfare and the goals of species-level conservation spill out into the world of social media, when non-expert shark enthusiasts discover that sometimes scientists work with fishermen to gather research samples from the sharks those fishermen have (legally) killed. This happened again recently, when just such a partnership was criticized on twitter by some non-experts.

The truth behind this ‘controversy’ is simple: many of the most important types of scientific data that we need to effectively monitor and conserve shark populations require lethal sampling. To quote a 2010 essay on this topic, “Although lethal sampling comes at a cost to a population, especially for threatened species, the conservation benefits from well‐designed studies provide essential data that cannot be collected currently in any other way.”

On and on the piece goes describing, in vivid detail, the barely concealed joy these scientists take in fishing endangered sharks. I’d image it is the same thrill the hunter feels when bagging one of the last remaining Javan rhino.


Maybe I should re-read.

But quickly, where do sharks land on the sliding Hippocratic scale?

Closer to the butcher than killer whales?

Than king cobras?

Much to ponder.

Terror on the Sand: In what is being called “The Night of Long Boards” State of Hawaii seizes control of surf schools at popular Big Island beach!

"Locals describe a frenzied scene..."

But what is your favorite historical totalitarian regime of all time? Oh I know these matters are not polite to discuss but if you had to choose. Are you a Khmer Rouge kinda gal? Did the very talented Nadia Comeneci give you a taste for Nicolae Ceausescu’s Romania? Does Eritrea’s People’s Front for Democracy and Justice float your boat? Benny Mussolini?

A very difficult decision but let me make it even more so by adding the State of Hawaii which just nationalized the surf school permitting process at the popular Kahaluu Bay on the Big Island.

And have you been to the Big Island? Shane Dorian lives there and hunts wild pig but apparently there is an epidemic of surf schools crowding lineups too, unregulated, causing much hurt feelings and annoyance.

Surf schools, am I right?

Well, the State, in a decisive authoritarian action being called The Night of Long Boards, decided to cap the number of schools at four and to control the permitting process but we must learn more from regime organ West Hawaii Today.

“The State fulfilled its obligation but the County ran into difficulty with selecting which four commercial surf school companies would receive permits. The State was asked to take the lead and is working closely with the County of Hawaii to amend the current Hawaii Administrative Rules to determine the appropriate number of commercial surf school permits that should be issued for Kahaluu Bay,” the division stated, but did not provide the number of permits being considered.

Ossian Farmer, sole proprietor of FBI Surf School, said the surf schools operating at Kahaluu remain in the dark on the issue as they haven’t been kept in the loop unless speaking with one another or pressing the DLNR. He thinks the previous determination of four schools with eight students each was correct.

“That’s 32 people in the water — not including instructors — already that’s pretty crowded,” said Farmer. “Right now, there’s probably 10 surf schools taking out as many people as they want. We just need to do something.

Very wonderful except it would be even more wonderful if the all-knowing State capped the number of surf schools across all islands at zero.


Do you make a living from the surf school trade? Do you hate all forms of totalitarianism wherever, whenever they appear? First they came for the soft tops and I said nothing because I don’t ride a soft top etc.?

Launch a lightly funded insurrection!

More as the story develops.

Longtom graduates from Matt Bromley's Get-Gooder-At-Surfing-At-Home online course. | Photo: Fast Times at Ridgemont High

Longtom buys online surf-improvement course: “The truth is most of our skill sets are baked in by the time we are twenty!”

Can a lifelong intermediate surfer break out of entrenched patterns? Or are you doomed to repeat the same dreadful mistakes over and over for eternity?

Look, if the Devil himself showed up tomorrow with a red button to push to kill the internets, I’d hit it in a heartbeat.

Not even give it a second thought, despite the fact I’d be nothing without it.

Compounding the stupidity is the fact I’m a total slut for what you might call internet self-improvement. Open online courses in economics, agriculture, subscriptions to every publication I can get my hands on etc.

Can’t shovel the shit in fast enough.

Ergo, it didn’t take much for me to pull the trigger on a surfing self-improvement course by South African charger Matt Bromley, which promised to help me smash through the intermediate barrier.

Fifteen bucks, can’t remember whether he charged in Rand or USD. Either way, about a schooner of craft beer and a shandy down at the local pub.

It’s a secret conceit of every surfer to get better but the question is: Can you skill build?

Derek Rielly in his UrbnSurf experience was able to identify the flaws in his own surfing. ID’ing the problems is one thing, doing something to fix them is another.

Catching more waves, whether they be natural or man-made, might not be a solution.

The world is full of leatherbacks who’ve caught a million waves and who rode the millionth exactly the same as the hundredth, if you get my drift.

You have to do something different.

Hence this tutorial offering from Bromley. A kind of online coaching resource, featuring video and text.

I barely read the text. The quantity of video information is huge.

My strengths are the intangibles: speed, power and flow in good surf. I can stitch an aesthetically satisfying ride together on a medium-sized wave. Knife a drop on a reefbreak. Reading a lineup, identifying and executing strategies to pick the best waves out of a crowd, thats my jam. Love to put a subtle hustle on. Patience.

Weaknesses: lack of vertical, poor rotation in shit surf, entrenched patterns.

Was there anything I missed as a fifteen-year-old that I could improve now?

Success came straight away.

The opening two videos: “where you look is where you go” and “generating speed” cracked open movement patterns that were as calcified as old bones. Waves helped. A few fun sessions in light onshore head-high surf had a pal commenting on the vertical turns. That little ego boost helped my confidence, fed a raging surf fever.

For the first time since I learnt to take a late drop I was on the improve again.

It didn’t last.

I kept working through the videos.

The waves got worse, then better, then worse.

Trying to do different things, keep them in mind, a strange sense of dissociation came over me. I was trying to watch myself, as I was doing it, in order to make judgements about whether I was improving according to the instructions offered.

In so doing I became mired in a swamp of self-consciousness. Over-thinking it. Bad hell. No fun.

To use the sexual metaphor, too much mind = performance anxiety.

So I dialled it back.

Cut down on the information and went back to the beginning.

To what worked.

In the end, there are only three factors at play in the equation. There’s you (with your skill set), the wave and the surfboard.

Of the three, skill set seems the hardest to budge.

Good waves can always be tracked down. I believe that is the surest path to improvement: riding better waves.

Boards come in close behind. They can be changed, radically or incrementally.

Changing skill set though, oh boy.

Even on the CT, at the elite level, skill sets calcify or degrade. A trend towards conservatism is the most common outcome. Mick Fanning was doing airs in competition in his early/mid career. They disappeared from his skill set.

Changes are the exceptions.

Surf improvement is a burgeoning field in the age of the VAL as beginners transition to intermediates and lifer intermediates dream of better feelings through better surfing.

The truth is most of our skill sets are baked in by the time we are twenty. Maybe twenty-five if one can postpone adulthood and keep the go-outs at a certain volume. The one ray of hope is a rec surfer can improve, albeit incrementally and at a snail’s pace well into their forties and fifties with a Herculean effort, most of it mental.

Matt Bromley’s surf improvement course offers a useful rope to cling to as an aid on that dizzying journey.

The new X in the equation is the existence of guaranteed reps in the wavepool and the possible rise of middle-aged, middle-class Fight Club-style support groups where the beleaguered rec surfer can work on her skill set in a new safer space for improvement.

Not saying that will happen, but it might.

A new surf community has already sprung up around the Tullamarine facility.

I’ll be there tomorrow.

Report to follow.

Photo courtesy of @outcast_sport_fishing
Photo courtesy of @outcast_sport_fishing

In Memoriam: South Carolina fisherman hooks “obscenely huge” Great White shark; names her after local teen killed in still unsolved hit-and-run!

15-feet, 3000 lbs, all heart.

Contrary to the popular aphorism, nothing can be said to be certain in this world, except death. Taxes can easily be dodged by moving all accounts to Bermuda and placing assets in children’s names or other such inventiveness but death… The Reaper comes for all. Sometimes far too early, sometimes far too late, but 100% of the time.

And there is a very sad, still unsolved 2016 hit-and-run case involving a 14-year-old girl from South Carolina killed on her way home from a track meet in 2016. A local Hilton Head Islands fisherman is making sure people don’t forget and maybe even leads to new evidence that can be used to put a heartless murderer behind bars and let us read the bittersweet tale together.

Captain Chip Michalove, owner of Outcast Sport Fishing, caught a 15-foot great white shark off Hilton Head Island. He named her Grace after 14-year-old Grace Sulak.

“You know this is kinda, maybe a way to help somebody who many need a little bit of healing and try to find a little more about the case,” said Michalove.

Michalove said he hopes the tribute will bring some closure to the family of Sulak, who was an aspiring marine biologist.

The great white shark that Michalove reeled in weighed around 2,800 pounds. Michalove, and his crew, took tissue samples and tagged the shark before naming her Grace.

Captain Michalove wrote beautifully on Instagram:

View this post on Instagram

Great day yesterday landing this 15 footer. It was too rough to get out so we stayed in close and had this big lady show up at 10:30 yesterday. Big Grace never really panicked. Definitely one of the easiest sharks we’ve worked on. Once we got her boatside, we kept a motor in gear and she just slowly swam with us. She got an array of tags and tissue samples. We’re naming her Grace, after an aspiring marine biologist Grace Sulak that was killed in a hit and run May 7, 2016 on I-26. The white truck that caused the accident was never found. You can follow Grace on Sharktivity. #dayofgrace #greatwhiteshark #sharktagging #hiltonheadisland #hiltonheadfishing #sharkfishing #whiteshark #bullbuster #aftco #hflexrodz #charlestonfishing #myrtlebeachfishing #nyfishing #ohiofishing #fishohio #hiltonheadsc #hiltonheadharbor #sharksdaily @whitesharksdaily @reelmonsters @reelfilletz @bonefacefishing

A post shared by Capt. Chip Michalove (@outcast_sport_fishing) on

Great day yesterday landing this 15 footer. It was too rough to get out so we stayed in close and had this big lady show up at 10:30 yesterday. Big Grace never really panicked. Definitely one of the easiest sharks we’ve worked on. Once we got her boatside, we kept a motor in gear and she just slowly swam with us. She got an array of tags and tissue samples. We’re naming her Grace, after an aspiring marine biologist Grace Sulak that was killed in a hit and run May 7, 2016 on I-26. The white truck that caused the accident was never found. You can follow Grace on Sharktivity.

Grace was, of course, released back into the water as obscenely huge Great White sharks taste gamey and mercurial. She now swims fierce and proud in memoriam but back to the case:

The South Carolina Highway Patrol said the driver of the vehicle involved in the crash has not been identified. According to South Carolina crime stoppers the vehicle involved in the crash was a white Dodge Ram 2500 crew cab. The family said the truck could look different now but the search to find the person responsible hasn’t stopped.

If you have information about the crash, you can contact Crime Stoppers at 1-888-crime-SC.

Do the right thing.

And no more surfing in South Carolina.

Just to be safe no more surfing in North Carolina or Florida either.

In Oliver Stone's football masterpiece Any Given Sunday, Jamie Foxx (pictured) plays running back for the fictional Miami Sharks.
In Oliver Stone's football masterpiece Any Given Sunday, Jamie Foxx (pictured) plays running back for the fictional Miami Sharks.

Opportunity Knocks: Star running back for NFL’s San Francisco 49ers once offered contract to surf for Billabong, turned it down in “moment of divine clarity!”

Oh what might have been...

But are you a fan of professional sport? Addicted to the thrill of victory, the agony of defeat? Oh of course I’m not referencing professional surfing here. We’re all obvious fans of that game but also recognize it is not a sport. More dance meets America’s Top Model.

No, I am curious about real professional sport. Baseball, rugby, cricket, Aussie Rules, football sport.


I’ll admit to being more than passively interested. I enjoy flipping on a game and being relatively up-to-date on the bigger happenings. Yesterday, for instance, found me driving home from Tahoe and happy to have the divisional round of the National Football League’s playoffs as company. The Tennessee Titans destroyed the highly favored Baltimore Ravens in the nightcap. The day belonged to the San Francisco 49ers running all over the outclassed Minnesota Vikings.

And this morning, perusing the game details, I learned that one of the 49ers star running backs, special teams pieces, Raheem Mostert, was once a rising star in our surf game and even offered a contract to surf for Billabong? Here, I’ll show you.

Raheem Mostert went from avoiding sharks on his surf board while growing up on the eastern shore of Florida to pretending to be one on special teams in the NFL.

“I was really a beach bum,” Mostert told The Bee last month.

While growing up in Smyrna Beach, Florida, an area just south Daytona famous for shark attacks, Mostert was a regular on the waves and his skateboard. He and some 15 friends would spend their spare time on the water or in skate parks after school or on weekends.

Mostert as a 14-year-old turned down a sponsorship deal from the popular surf wear brand, Billabong, instead choosing to focus on football and becoming the first member of his family to get his college degree.

“Football’s always been in my heart no matter what,” Mostert said. “It was one of those things where I just took it for what it was. I still enjoy it, skateboarding and surfing.”

I was so intrigued that I dug deeper for this “fork in the road” moment and found…

If Raheem Mostert hadn’t been so laser-focused on football, he might have had a career as a pro surfer. The San Francisco 49ers running back joined KNBR on Wednesday morning and discussed his love for the sport growing up and being offered a contract at the age of 14.

A surfing scout approached Mostert when he was surfing and skateboarding with his friends and wanted to see some tape of his skills, the running back revealed on the “Murph & Mac” show. Mostert didn’t have tape, so the scout asked him to perform some stunts on the spot. The 14-year-old impressed.

That’s when Mostert got offered a contract but turned it down.

I’m certain, now that Raheem Mostert is an NFL star, that he considers his decision a moment of divine clarity but just imagine how dominant today’s Billabong team would be with him on it. Already the best around, featuring Italo, Ryan Callinan Seth Moniz, Griff Colapinto and Jack Freestone, Mostert would have offered a sub-4.4 40 time and uncanny ability to read defenses.

Oh what might have been.

But, quickly, while you’re here, did you ever have a “fork-in-the-road” moment too?

Did you choose the right path?