Longtom on: the effectiveness of shark deterrents and Lennox groms “strapping knives to their calves ready for hand-to-hand combat with Great Whites!”

What… doesn't… work is "education"…

One of the things I’m proudest of, when I look around at my fellow surf brethren and sistren, is our level of detailed knowledge of sharks and shark deterrents.

To a man, woman and child I don’t know a single one who doesn’t get apoplectic when some egghead suggests that “education” is somehow an effective amelioration for reducing shark attacks.


Where’s the fucking evidence?

There ain’t none.

Even the chief shark researching stud Charlie Huveneers, Associate Prof at South Australia’s Flinders University drops it in his gold standard peer-reviewed science paper on the effectiveness of the various commercially available personal shark deterrents.

(Read here.)

I mention as counterpoint to a new vid dropped by personal deterrent brand Sharkbanz – which claims to work by using a magnetic field to disrupt the electro-receptors contained in an organ most elasmobranchs* possess which rejoices under the the moniker: Ampullae of Lorenzini**.

The Sharkbanz footage, filmed in the glorious blue waters of the north-west of Western Australia is, of course, powerful testimony as to its efficacy. A cloth dummy named Bernie gets baited up and propped up on a board with and without the Sharkbanz attached to his ankle. Sharks seem to very much enjoy savaging his lower limbs when they are undressed of the magnetic bracelet.

So all good, Sharkbanz does the biz.

Unfortunately, Assoc Prof Charlie’s research with Whites off the Neptune Islands in South Oz, says no.

According to Charlie’s peer reviewed 2018 paper: “Neither the SharkBanz bracelet nor leash affected the behaviour of hite sharks or reduced the percentage of baits taken.”

Huveneers made the additional point, summarising the existing scientific research as well as his own, that any deterrent effect on sharks was likely to be only when the shark was closer than fifty centimetres causing him to reach the following conclusion,

“This suggests that magnets are unlikely to be effective at deterring sharks because they will only protect close to the magnet, limiting their applicability as personal deterrents unless stronger magnets can be used or many magnets are positioned on the surfer or board.”

Who to believe?

Bernie or the Prof?

One cat around here who believes in the Sharkbanz is local chef Jabez Reitzman.

Reitzman has also been hit by a shark, suffering wounds to his shoulder when what is believed to be a juvenile White latched onto him around around seven am, Feb 8, 2015, two days before Tadashi Nakahara was fatally mauled down the the road at Ballina. Reitzman told me out the back at Lennox Point he believes in the Sharkbanz, to which I replied: yeah, but you got bit.

To which he replied: forgot to put it on that day.


How good is the placebo effect though.

Mother Nature made a deal with the human mind to allow us to believe in things that are useful to us even if they ain’t strictly true.

There are strong proponents for this way of thinking. Queensland University shark researcher Blake Chapman said in relation to personal shark deterrents,

“These things may or may not work, but the chances of being bitten are so small, that if it’s giving you peace of mind to go out there and do your activity then it’s doing its job.”

A very much weirder advocate for a version of the placebo effect comes from South African inter-species communicator Anna Breytenbach.

She claims, after consulting with “Great White shark universal consciousness” that competitiveness and bad vibes might draw the predatory attention of White sharks.

Local surfer and environmental activist Dean Jefferies puts her thought into action thusly: “I send a telepathic message to any sharks that maybe in the area that I am their friend, I am not food or competition. I calm my energy, breath and heart rate and I transmute any lingering fear I may have around sharks. I say in my mind to any possible nearby shark, could you please keep a small distance away, and we can both be here in relative harmony with each other. “

What am I saying?

I’m saying that if wearing Sharkbanz helps keep the organism chill and in non-prey mode then it’s effectiveness as a shark deterrent may not be an entirely anti-scientific proposition despite the conclusions of Assoc Prof Huveneers.

Can you guess the preferred method of deterrence chosen by surf Mamas and Papas looking to protect their progeny during the height of the shark attack crisis of 2015/16 in the hamlet of Lennox Head?


It was a diving knife strapped to the calf, ready for hand-to-hand combat with the Leviathan. I shit you not comrades.

Education. We don’t need no education.

How are Sharkbanz selling locally in one of the sharkiest joints on earth?

I hit the bricks in Byron, Lennox and Ballina and couldn’t find one for sale.

Looks like a ready made role for a recently retired pro who needs some sales repping work.

Anyone come to mind?

I know we are really dragging this one out but time for a little super quick shark tale as dessert?

Just one little scoop.

Glorious winters day in ’93.

Honeymooning couple Debbie and John Ford are ascending from a dive at Julian Rocks, a mile out to sea in Byron Bay. John sees an eighteen-foot White headed for his bride and puts himself between it and the gal.

Gets bitten in half.

Local fisherman Ron Boggis is deputised by the constabulary to hunt the shark down. He hooks the monster on a drum line and it tows him and the boat miles and miles out to sea.

Hours pass with the fisherman locked in battle with the shark. In the dark he gets close enough to try and loose rounds of a .33 into the beast.

The shark snaps the chain, leaving only the mans regurgitated leg as a reminder of the battle as it slinks off into the inky waters of the night.


** Damn it feels good to put this Marine Biology degree to use.

No touchy.
No touchy.

Beware: Voodoo doll made with human teeth and skin found on Florida beach, put back in water to “curse a damned surfer!”

Very creepy.

As if Florida waters didn’t have enough worries, enough troubles and travails already. There are: Sharks, crocodiles, snowbirds, locals, NASCAR enthusiasts just to name but a few and now we can add a voodoo doll made with human teeth and skin floating somewhere off the coast, waiting for a surfer to pluck it out and curse our kind forever.

The doll was found on Cape Canaveral, very near Kelly Slater’s hometown of Cocoa Beach, by a man named Bruce Robertson as he was walking on the beach.

“What was really sort of terrifying or horrifying or interesting was it had actual human teeth,” he told Orlando’s local news.

He then tossed it back in the ocean because other beachgoers told him it was a voodoo doll and it should be destroyed and/or found by a surfer in order to curse our damned kind. That’s what I would have told him, anyhow, had I been beach walking too.

He took some pictures before setting it free and, later, after doing some internet research decided it was not, in fact, a voodoo doll but the African spider god Anansi used for good luck.

Orlando’s local news took the photos to an African bookstore owner in Kelly Slater’s Cocoa named Michelle Davis.

“This right here is creepy,” Davis said pointing to the human teeth.

She also believed the doll had human skin on it.

Davis thought it could have all been part of a voodoo ritual.

She said people still believe in voodoo.

“They do it here in Cocoa,” Davis said. “They do it all over in Florida, Louisiana, New Orleans. Voodoo is real,” she said.

Because the doll is back in the ocean, Robertson is advising the next person who may find it to not be afraid. 

“If anybody else finds it, it is not a voodoo doll. It’s really a good luck doll from Africa,” he said.

Yeah. A “good luck doll.”

Remember when Greg Brady, set to win a professional surfing championship, found a “good luck” tiki doll in Hawaii?


Surfers beware.

Hayden's Shape the unfortunate victim.
Hayden's Shape the unfortunate victim.

Update: 60-year-old New Zealand surf legend punches 9-foot Great White shark “smack bang in the eye!”

Not the nose as previously reported.

Boxing is a funny thing. In the moment, passions run so hot, fevers so high, that it is difficult to accurately assess where every punch lands. The nose and the eye are mere centimeters apart and so please forgive this morning’s report when it was revealed that a New Zealand surfer, likely inspired by Wilder vs. Fury II*, punched a shark in the nose.

As it turns out, and thanks to very fine reporting by New Zealand’s own Riley Elliott, that the surfer, 60-year-old Nick Minogue (possible relation to Kylie) punched a shark, a 9 foot Great White no less, in the eye.

And let us go straight to his Instagram account for the very latest.


When a shark attack happens on your local surf beach, and it’s likely a Great White, of which generally aren’t common in this area, it’s a surreal feeling. I spoke in length with Nick, the man who experienced this, straight after it happened, to try and get the fine details among the obvious shock and trauma experienced. The fine details help piece together what the shark likely was and how it behaved. From his description to me, which is well versed in the article from the paper, it appears to be a 2-3m great white shark.

The key points that led me to this was firstly, bronze whalers, our most common coastal species in this area, swim around us a lot when we surf here. They are very smart about knowing what we are, so it would be highly surprising to have one follow through simple interest and curiosity with a full scale nibble. It would generally be more of a bump, and generally only if you have fish on you. The main point that eliminated my thoughts on a bronze whaler was Nicks detailed description of the eye, specifically how big it was. He said it was 2/3rds the size of a fist.

Bronze whalers have small squinty eyes compared to a mako or white sharks, which have large eyes. To eliminate a mako, it is firstly odd to have one of this approximated 2-3m size, this close inshore. The colour Nick described, as grey also made a mako more unlikely, and a white the probable species. NZ is a global hotspot for great whites but generally the south islands lower half where seals live.

However our northern estuaries are nursery grounds for baby whites and when they get above 2.5m they change their diet to seals and move down the coast. This sets a scene which is explanatory for such an encounter. Yes it’s rare and unlikely, but the scenario for what was an investigatory bite by a juvenile shark, makes sense. Thank you Nick for being calm and cool.

For not letting it deter you from a sport you love, and for understanding that sharks don’t have hands and sometimes have to nibble. I’m just stoked you got your arm out of the way. Well done mate. Thanks to the lifeguards for, as always, doing a great job. I’m down in Tairua tomorrow if anyone needs any information.

Now that’s surf journalism.

More as the story develops.

*In absolute stunner, The Gypsy King wins!

"Come ye foil kiters, ye high performance long boarders..."
"Come ye foil kiters, ye high performance long boarders..."

Breaking: “Surf-hating” Mayor Pete Buttigieg goes “full Inertia” after Nevada primary loss, actively calling for “open tent!”

"The definitive voice of surf and outdoors."

This 2020 United States Democratic Primary season is the most vital, most important, most serious moment in surf history. Never before has a major political party in a first world nation made destroying us, our way of life, a main pillar.

We are under attack. Erik Logan to the soft left of us, Democratic establishment politics to the softer left and here we are, stuck in middle with each other.

All of this nasty business got started when one-time Democratic presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton declared her hatred for our kind, employing anger-repressed Mayor Pete Buttigieg in her sinister game in the hopes that surfers would once and for all be wiped from the face of America, first, then the earth.

Scary times.

And much scarier now that Mayor Pete’s candidacy is faltering.

In a just delivered speech following his state of Nevada defeat, Buttigieg declared:

We can prioritize either ideological purity or inclusive victory. We can either call people names online or we can call them into our movement. We can either tighten a narrow and hardcore base or open the tent to a new, broad, big-hearted American coalition.

Oh hell.

Oh worse than hell.

An open tent? New, broad, big-hearted coalition? Zero name calling?

Flavors of the VAL apocalypse but worse. The actual word-for-word “about us” link on the world’s second most insidious “surf-based” website.

That’s right.

Mayor Pete Buttigieg is The Inertia.

Oh hell.

Oh worse than hell.

I thought The Inertia and its mountain sport meets ocean splashing meets SUP meets “Would You Care to Have Your Socks Knocked Off by Kanoa Igarashi” was dead.

Apparently it is not and it is now weaponized against us.

More as the story develops.

The shark's manager already angling for rematch.
The shark's manager already angling for rematch.

Sweet Science: New Zealand surfer lands “devastating right hook” on attacking Great White’s nose after heavyweight beast destroys his board!


Tonight is a very big night for boxing fans as Deontay Wilder and his “Alabama Slammer” will face off for the second time against Tyson Fury, this time under those bright Las Vegas lights.

The two met last, two years ago, in Los Angeles and created an instant classic where Wilder, a 6’7 Tuscaloosa native who sports the highest knockout percentage in heavyweight boxing history. Only two men have taken him to the distance and Tyson Fury was one of them.

Though he lost by decision in Los Angeles Fury, of Manchester, England is a real threat, elusive, quick but also extra fat, weighing in at over 40 lbs over Wilder.

Who will win? The experts say Wilder by late knockout.

Likely inspired, a New Zealand surfer tested his “Coromandel Cruncher” on an attacking shark’s nose last evening, devastating the beast’s game plan and sending it whimpering to its corner.

Per the local news:

Senior lifeguard at the popular Coromandel beach, Sam Cox told 1 NEWS he and surf lifesaving captain Stuart Upjohn got a call around 10.30am this morning to say someone had been attacked by a shark about 150 metres offshore.

The pair made their way to the carpark where the surfer and his friend had arrived after the harrowing ordeal in the water.

“By the sounds of it, the shark came up and grabbed onto the surfboard and he punched it and then paddled in,” Mr Cox said.

The surfer, who was not known to be a local, emerged unscathed save for a small “paper cut” however the surfboard “had some clear punctures in it,” Mr Cox said.

He said the surfer was shaken up but unharmed, and after a checking over by the surf crew was deemed safe to go home.

“We made sure he was all good and they seemed fine. He was obviously a bit shaken up,” Mr Cox said.

And this New Zealand underdog is our surfing world’s first hero since light middleweight Mick “Eugene” Fanning unveiled his “Jeffreys Jab” five years ago and undid a Buster Douglas-esque challenger.

Very exciting and, clearly, punching sharks in the nose works but I think I’d aim for the gills if ever in the ring. Neck blows, while not as sexy, can have mildly disruptive effects as showcased by super heavyweight Ashton “Bilbo” Goggans in his 2019 Orlando, Florida victory.

Extremely exciting.