Breaking: Shuttered San Onofre nuclear power plant spews “liquid batch of radioactive effluent” into ocean!

Many questions.

It is a beautiful day in southern California, positively glowing, and as I drove home from Beverly Hills’ Waldorf-Astoria, past Trestles and San Onofre, I wondered if that glow had anything to do with the shuttered San Onofre nuclear plant spewing a “liquid batch of radioactive effluent” into the Ocean Pacific just right there.


It was not an accidental spill but rather a “planned release” though still radioactive.


California Edison, the proud owner of the power plant, claims, “No and here’s why. First, the dose is already small to begin with, diluted in thousands of gallons of water. Once released to the ocean, it mixes with vast quantities of ocean water. This serves to further dilute the discharge and reduce the dose below measurable levels. Second, radiation exposure to humans is based on pathways, the routes by which radioactivity might be transported. The primary pathway for liquid releases would be eating seafood (fish, crustaceans) that might accumulate radioactive material.”

But our Surfrider Foundation, who fought for these planned releases to be made public, may be less certain, declaring, “Edison explains that the effluent has been treated to a radiological dose level of just 0.00172 mrem, which when considered cumulatively with earlier batch releases this year, is 0.128% of the annual whole body dose limit (6 mrem). While this is well within their legal allowance set by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), Surfrider believes that it’s important for the community to be able to make informed decisions about their potential exposure.”


And while I’m less worried about eating San Clemente’s fish and crustaceans I wonder about accumulation in surfboards.

Like, do Trestles surfers’ Pyzels and CIs, Mayhems too, begin growing when exposed, imperceptibly at first, robustly later, until they become nine-feet long and love cruising the knee-high rollers even closer to the power plant at San O?

Seems extremely likely.

Whilst driving past Trestles, I cranked my neck, per the norm, and the non-Trestles part I could see seemed generally uncrowded. San O, on the other hand, was packed. Nine-feet long surfboards soaking up more of that life-giving radioactive effluent.

Are longboarders retarded? Or wait, not retarded. That whole concept has been cancelled. I meant deformed. Are longboarders deformed normalboarders due radioactive exposure?


"Today we have released 2 White sharks at Ballina - Lennox and 1 white shark at Evans Head after they caught 3 yesterday." | Photo: @nsw_ sharksmart

Longtom on Australia’s Great White Crisis: “Aggressive juvenile Whites need to learn a little fear and caution of humans…”

Sixteen Great Whites tagged on the drums between Evans and Lennox over three days.

We’re still distressed about young Mani’s premature demise, two weeks later, but we’re not shocked.

That kind of news puts a chill in your heart, like when I hear the westpac chopper fly past. You hope it’s not someone you know, but if it ain’t, it’s always someone who knows someone.

After reading the below-the-line comments on both my article and Dan Dobs’, as well as Dan Webber’s latest contribution my writerly soul, my surfer soul is rejoicing. They were magnificent, encompassed all points on the spectrum.

Truly, surfers, as the main targets of increasing shark attacks in Australia and globally have got control of the narrative now. Taken it back from the peckerheads and sheepish jackasses of the BBC, The New York TimesLe Monde, Der Spiegel, The Guardian, The Australian, The Wall Street Journal, Hollywood etc etc.

I asked two questions in the last article.

One, had we reached a tipping point with the latest attack and two, did the architects of the White shark recovery in (eastern) Australian waters have an ethical obligation to consider the human cost of that decision.

Smart people said no to the first question below the line and, now that the emotion has worn off, I think they are correct, even though the history of human/shark relations in Australia is replete with tipping points.

As to the second question, well no-one really had a swing at it.

I think therefore we should rephrase it by looking at some of the orthodox thinking which surrounds the vexed shark issue in light of the science and take an axe to some of the current shibboleths if recent data dictates it.

The currently accepted reason for the increasing rate of attacks in Australia (and worldwide) is the increasing number of surfers in the water. Not the sole reason but the one that does most of the heavy lifting. It was framed eloquently as a question of increasing surfer hours by one commenter.

If that were true, you would expect places of high surfer numbers to suffer more attacks. Attack facts do not support that theory. Attacks happen in areas of small surfer numbers. Mani was attacked in a small group, as was Rob Pedretti, as was Tadashi, and Matt Lee, and Craig Ison and Lee Johnson and Cooper Allan and Paul Wilcox and Sam Edwardes etc etc.

Posit two days on the Ballina coast as a thought experiment.

One is a pumping day with a very high number of surfer-hours. The other a delicate babyfood day with a low number of surfer hours.

Which has the highest risk of attack?

The data conclusively supports the theory the low surfer hours day is the more dangerous. Crowds, paradoxically, decrease the chances of attack.

Small numbers are the most dangerous days/situations.

Second shibboleth. You go in the water, you accept the risk. Very eloquently stated by Maurice Cole.

Yes, and very true.

What is forgotten is how quickly and by how much the risk has changed in this area.

Prior to September 2014’s fatal attack by white shark on swimmer Paul Wilcox the area was not known for White sharks. The last fatal attack was by bull shark on Pete Edmonds at North Wall in 2008. Prior to that, honeymooner John Ford was bitten in half in Byron Bay when he put himself between a six-metre white and his beloved in 1993.

Years separated attacks.

That all changed in 2015.

We went from isolated incidents to a hot spot where attacks and incidents happened on the reg. The actual risk is very different now.


Theories that blame increasing surfer numbers don’t make sense, as we have discussed. You could run the line that our surfer consciousness is too aggro and is an affront to the peaceable White shark as advocated by Anna Breytenbach.

But, if that seems loopy, what you are left with is an increasing number of Whites, mostly juiced-up teens and sub-adults that seem to have a kink for games of chicken with surfer legs, if you’ll pardon the anthropomorphism.

The surfer theory, as presented by George Greenough, is the White shark is in bounceback mode and the juvies and sub-adults are back to claim territory ceded from days when they were openly fished and the solution to a White shark hanging around was a chain and a 20/0 hook.

The numbers from the smart drum line program support that.

The fishing over the last week has been very good. Down at the Ballina marina in the grungy post-industrial West Ballina area I waited in the rain for the shark contractor to come in. They’d tagged four that day. One had interrupted my go-out at small fun Lennox Point.

Sixteen Great Whites tagged on the drums between Evans and Lennox over three days.

The shark contractor brought up the third shibboleth.

People think the ocean is over-fished but it’s teeming with life here, he told me. The ocean is being raped and pillaged, but it’s in rude good health on the North Coast.

Those two statements seem incompatible, but they are both true. Blue sharks and other oceanic species are being slaughtered for shark fins but White sharks are regionally/seasonally abundant and largely immune to fishing pressure.

Both those things are also true.

Latest science on the food stocks for White sharks in Aus, salmon, seals and whales all point to abundant food sources.

Dolphins make up prey for White sharks, they seem scarcer since the Whites showed up, but that is anecdotal.

The last shibboleth is the one most beloved of certain social scientists and academics. Dr Chris Neff from Sydney Uni is the most well-known spokesman.

According to this world-view the problem of increasing white shark bites is a mostly human psychological one. In a 2012 TedX talk he claimed “shark attack” was a phrase that has been invented. The holy grail and end point for this view is that “knowing more about shark behavior will reduce human–shark interactions.”

Unfortunately for this utopian view, the data sadly suggests not.

The problem appears not to be psychological or one of language or solvable by knowing more about shark behaviour. An honest re-writing of the recommendations for avoiding shark attacks would state 10am-3pm in small groups on sunny days in small-medium surf is the most dangerous combination of circumstances.

Biology does the explanatory heavy lifting: opportunistic attacks from apex ambush predators don’t give a flying fuck about human psychology.

Wrassling with these questions ain’t easy and I don’t want anyone walking away from this thinking I’ve got answers.

I have a different view to Dan Webber on the smart drum-lines. I think that might be the best compromise we’ve got at the moment.

It roughs up the teenage Whites before they get too comfortable and gives them a little free boat trip from the area courtesy of the taxpayer. The data from that is useful to me. If the fishing is good and Whites are on the sniff I’ll modify my go-outs.

I won’t stop surfing but I’m not going to paddle out in junk beachies.

Not worth losing a leg over.

Respect for the predators, yes.

But I can’t get down with the veneration.

Humans have lived, played, worked, travelled in the ocean since Year Dot.

That’s what we do.

If Whites are coming back we’ll have to find a way to co-exist and if that means juveniles need to learn a little fear and caution of these skinny limbed mammals who play in the surf zone then so be it.

COVID-inspired street art. Banksy?

Surfers on Victoria’s Mornington Peninsula turn on city brothers: “F*ck off Melbourne COVID dogs ‘metro’ kooks”

Blunt syntax aside, is this a point well and fairly made? 

Australia’s second most populous state Victoria, whose borders enclose Bells Beach and Winki Pop, has been getting hell from Corona nineteen. 

Seven dead overnight, troops roaming the streets, one hundred and sixty-six grand in fines written in the last twenty-four hours. 

But it ain’t total lockdown in Vic, only the parts of the state hit by ol wheezy.

If you’re in the red-zone, you’re stuck in your little neighbourhood for six weeks. Bust out and it’s a $1652 fine, min, up to twenty-gees if you take it to court. 

One gorgeous stretch of coast, south-east of the capital Melbourne, that has so far avoided lock-up is the Mornington Peninsula, among whose notable residents includes 1989 world champion Martin Potter. 

And locals would prefer it to stay that way. 

A sign erected at Gunnamatta Beach, one of the area’s best beachbreaks, advises city surfers thus, “Fuck off Melbourne COVID dogs ‘metro’ kooks”. (Photo from @triggerbrothers)

Nearby graffiti offers similar counsel: “FUCK OFF MELBOURNE DOGS COVID CUNT”.

Australians, for the most, can never be accused of subtlety.

And when it comes to localism, the descendants of crooks and wicked colonialists, will spare no one’s feels. 

Question: blunt syntax aside, is this a point well and fairly made?

Or the work of precious angels?

If you can't ride on a Great White's back, what useful purpose does it serve humanity?

Australia’s Great White Crisis and the case for selective culling of aggressive sharks: “It is an abomination to value nature at the expense of humanity”

"Most reasonable people would agree that the only way to significantly reduce the rate of shark attacks is by killing the most dangerous sharks."

There is talk of a promising new solution to Australia’s Great White crisis.

Using technology developed for commercial fishing, standard drum lines would target the most aggressive sharks, by surrounding the bait with an electric field that deters less aggressive sharks.

Each species of ‘dangerous’ shark includes many individuals that are probably not all that dangerous. This might explain the occasional video of a placid ‘man-eater’ swimming perilously close to surfers.

It might also explain the statistical insignificance of shark attacks compared to other public health risks. After all, the number of sharks biting people cannot exceed the number of shark attack victims.

Clearly, most ‘man-eaters’ are not interested in attacking people.

So, the problem is not the species of shark, but the few aberrant individuals that give the species a bad name.

French shark scientist, Eric Clua suggests that; “Selective removal of problem individuals following shark bite incidents would be consistent with current management practices for terrestrial predators, and would be more effective and more environmentally responsible than current mass-culling programs.”

But, why not get rid of the problem individuals before they attack?

Besides, the complete removal of dangerous individuals would have the glorious effect of altering the gene pool and thus taming the species forever. Then, all the shark nets could be removed, to allow whales, dolphins and sea turtles to travel freely, without getting tangled in a net and drowning.

Some environmentalists will abhor the new method of preventing shark attacks, because they impulsively dismiss any attempt to control nature. But, they will disguise their hatred of humanity, with a plausible explanation for how the ecosystem depends on these few ‘alpha-predators’ to stabilise the ecosystem; like claiming that the occasional shark attack is a small price to pay for controlling the population of the Humboldt squid, a potentially more terrifying creature.

One way or another, humans will be sacrificed for nothing but the symbolic value of giving nature free rein. Our predicament is a potent element of their belief system.

In the meantime, we need to address the problem of shark attacks.

Luckily, there is a solution, and it is a surprisingly simple one. The problem is that politics nowadays is governed by emotional outbursts. As a result, we suffer from an overly emotional attachment to nature. This seems appropriate to the Western mind nurtured on a religious diet of environmentalism.

But, compassion is, first and foremost, an emotion felt for people. It is an abomination to value nature at the expense of humanity.

It can be frustrating when people nonchalantly disregard the horror, with flippant remarks that essentially blame victims for being attacked.

But, it is hardly worth worrying about.

People generally don’t think things through. It is the easy answer to a contentious issue. What is worrying, is when people in positions of authority, who are paid to serve the public on this very issue, fail to appreciate the gravity of the situation.

New South Wales’ Department of Primary Industries (DPI) refuses to accept the many flaws in their approach, having just received eight-million dollars to continue a program that offers next to no benefit to the surfing community.

They claim, for example, that tagging sharks helps to reduce the risk of attack, because sharks tend to avoid the coast for many weeks after the traumatic experience of being tagged.

On the face of it, this seems like a reasonable assumption, until you realise how unlikely it would have been for any of these sharks to have attacked someone, had they not been diverted out to sea. The temporary removal of an occasional shark is hardly worth mentioning.

I am not against tagging for sake of research.

Ultimately, I think the program could help to reduce the rate of shark attacks.

But, we would need many more listening stations, maybe ten times as many. However, the purpose of the listening stations should not be to inform the public every time a shark has been detected. The odd shark swimming within range of a listening station just isn’t noteworthy.

What the public needs to know is if the rate of shark detections has increased to a level that indicates a possible trend and thus greater risk of shark attack.

Dr Moltschaniwskyj explained that the rationale is moreso to remind the public that sharks are part of the ocean. So, we agree that the actual presence of the shark does not represent an imminent threat to be avoided.

Even in the Lennox to Ballina stretch, where we have the highest concentration of listening stations, these random detections would be a small fraction of the number of sharks in similar proximity to surfers at any time. My guess is that most surfers don’t bother with the service, since most of the sharks passing through the area go undetected.

If that is true, then the alerts only serve to torment people who rarely enter the water anyway, including mothers who worry about their kids every time a shark detection gets circulated on the net.

The new drone technology is impressive. But, it will only ever be deployed at a small fraction of surf spots, and for a small fraction of the time people surf. So, I do not believe that drones will reduce the rate of shark attacks.

Our most recent fatality, fifteen-year-old Mani Hart-Deville, was surfing at a remote location that is probably too remote to justify the funding of drone surveillance. There is also the problem of murky water affecting visibility.

But, on those classic crystal clear days, it is probably appreciated by parents taking their kids to the beach.

I suggested to Dr Moltschaniwskyj that the DPI might consider surveying the surfing community to find out how many people were actually using the service that notifies users whenever a shark has been detected.

I thought I was talking their language. But, there was no response.

I don’t blame her; because, in some sense, not replying speaks volumes. I probably wouldn’t reply either, if my livelihood depended on toeing the line.

Who knows what people really think these days. We are all hemmed in, one way or another. I have copped a lot of flak for speaking up. So, I generally avoid the topic. But, it is very concerning that two reasonable people are unable to communicate freely about such a significant public concern.

Apart from drawing attention to possible limitations in their approach, I also suggested that they focus on developing a model that predicts the risk of encountering a shark. It is not good enough to randomly remind surfers that sharks are a potential menace. All this does is transfer responsibility to the eventual victims: “I told you there were sharks out there!”

Besides, surfable conditions are rare. The surfing lifestyle requires taking advantage of every opportunity. So, the perceived risk only becomes relevant for a few sorry weeks after an attack.

One attack makes you wary.

Two attacks make you nervous.

It’s not very sophisticated.

A scientifically informed model would assess the risk, based on environmental factors, like ocean temperature, rainfall, proximity to river mouths, whale migration, time of day, and trends in tagged shark movements. Shark scientists have alluded to the potential for such a formula.

Ideally, all known risk factors would be condensed into a simple format that could be read at a glance: i.e. Low, Medium, High, etc. Although costly, physical signage would be more effective than an app, despite the apparent convenience of smartphones. You can’t expect everyone to be fastidious in their monitoring of the shark situation.

I think most reasonable people would agree that the only way to significantly reduce the rate of shark attacks is by killing the most dangerous sharks. Theoretically, this could be achieved with almost clinical precision using an extensive array of electrified drum lines targeting only the most aggressive individuals.

Policy makers can fret over how many sharks the electorate will tolerate being dispatched each year. But, at least they can report with some confidence that the screening process is stringent: sensitive sharks will be turned away.

Eventually, these desperately sad tragedies could become a distant memory.

To be honest, I have no evidence of this technology being taken seriously. For all I know, DPI has scoffed at the suggestion.

It is loosely based on technology designed to protect baited hooks from sharks. So, it might not be patentable.

But, I have applied for a patent, just in case.

The opportunity is lost, once it goes public.

After submitting the application, I wrote to the Minister responsible for DPI’s operations, asking that he present it to DPI on my behalf.

But, I am afraid he is also having difficulty penetrating DPI’s fortress mentality.

(In 2016, Dan Webber watched as surfer Cooper Allan got what is described on the north coast as a “Ballina hickey” from a Great White. “I was standing in waist deep water, about five metres away, when I saw a shark in the face of a wave between me and three guys sitting further out,” said Dan. “A few seconds later, I heard a shout, followed by the nose of a board sailing through the air.” He is the author of When Great Whites Take Over Your Beach and Sobering: The (Real) Odds of a Shark Attack.)

Breaking: World’s happiest thief caught trying to reprise Jack Johnson concert by stealing surfboards, guitars, flip flop sandals from local shop!

It's anti-depressive!

You are certainly aware of those “Good News” websites or social media feeds, no? The ones that leave Covid-19, unrest, impending economic doom off the menu and only serve piping hot stories of interracial children hugging and Scandinavian politicians saying things delightful.

A welcome respite, oases in troubled times, and something anti-depressive we should reprise?

It would be anti-anti-depressive not to and so let us post haste to my home state of Oregon where the world’s happiest thief was caught, red-handed, trying to reprise a Jack Johnson concert by stealing many of Jack’s favorite things.

As a quick aside, I am trying to not cut and paste anymore, trying to take the “craft” of “surf journalism” seriously, but last night was a rough one as I got caught on the balcony of a very fancy Beverly Hills hotel, the Waldorf-Astoria if you must know, sipping rosé with wife in matching bathrobes while protestors for school equality, I think, marched in the street below. They pointed fingers our way and said, “If you cared you’d join us.” One in their group pointed a camera at us too and snapped pictures. I’d imagine if you dig deep enough you’ll be able to find. I was also wearing rose-colored sunglasses, as it were.

I did care-ish but poured another glass of rosé instead as it was an exceedingly rare night alone.

So forgive this one more indulgence from my hometown Coos Bay newspaper The World if you’d be so kind?

On Wednesday, July 22, at about 11:25 p.m., Lincoln City Police officers responded to a reported suspicious person call in the southwest 3800 block of U.S. Highway 101 in Lincoln City.

It was reported that a man was walking along Highway 101 while carrying several surf boards, according to a press release from Sgt. Jeffrey Winn of the Lincoln City Police Department. Officers located the man and identified him as 29-year-old Christian M. Berry of California and Hawaii, carrying several surf boards. When asked, Berry said he found the surf boards.

During the subsequent investigation, officers saw that the surfboards still had price stickers on them and that he was wearing two hats on his head. In addition, Berry had a wetsuit tied around his waist that still had tags on it. Berry was also found to be in possession of an acoustic guitar, wax, board fins and other items, many price-tag marked and surf-related.

The officers discovered a local shop had, in fact, been robbed and arrested the man but did he care?

Examine his mugshot above. A very similar face to the one I accidentally made toward the protestors.