Introducing: New and exciting evolution of “international surfer hand sign” the shaka!

The bleeding edge.

I consider myself something of an expert in the Hawaiian hand symbol that has been adopted (read: appropriated) by surfers worldwide. The “shaka” is ubiquitous on beaches from Manly to Martinique, Huntington to the Hamptons and in the award-nominated book Welcome to Paradise, Now Go to Hell (buy here) I wrote about it on Oahu’s North Shore.

I look away from Dusty and see Damea Dorsey, a photographer on retainer at TransWorld surf magazine, fiddling with a camera in the middle of Ke Nui near the Billabong house, and he motions for me to come to him by throwing an ironic shaka. The shaka, or hang-loose sign, is the classic hawaiian greeting. hawaii’s national wave. Thumb and little finger extend.

Index, middle, and ring finger bent into a fist. Those fresh from the mainland throw very tight shakas. That is to say, the smallest finger and thumb are made very straight and the rest of the fist is balled up very tight. hawaiians, and those who have been here many times, throw very loose shakas. They extend their open hand with smallest finger slightly above the ring finger and the thumb slightly open. how a man throws a shaka speaks volumes.

I used to throw ironic shakas, like Damea, all the time but it accidentally got into my blood and now I throw real shakas, loose hawaiian shakas, everywhere. To starbucks baristas in New York City and Parisian taxi drivers. I walk over to Damea.

Very fine but I have noticed, of late, an evolution. The ring finger has been pulled into the equation, generally extended ramrod straight in a slightly different direction from the pinkie. Like scissors maybe. Or one of the peace signs Justin Bieber/your streetwear wearing nephew makes when posing for pictures.

Note famous big wave surfer Jamie Mitchell’s usage.

And I would recommend adopting into your own shaka for you, too, will look like a famous big wave surfer and/or on the bleeding edge of Hawaiiana.

You’re welcome.

Watch: Just released footage reveals deadly Great White Shark attacks may be avoided by utilizing “naughty puppy” nose shove!

"The best solutions are often right in front of our noses."

Australia is experiencing what experts are calling a full “Great White Crisis” that is only tangentially related to the race/equality protests roiling the United States. Up over, hundreds of years of oppression etc. have come to a head as all manner of brown and black people have risen up and said “enough” cancelling many whites, some great ones included.

Down under, the juvenile Great White shark population has exploded, endangering any person dare dipping a toe in the ocean. The situation has become so dire that our own Longtom is suggesting violence toward the young beasts. “…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.”

And while spanking, whipping with a belt or wooden spoon, etc. was once an acceptable form of punishment, times have changed and the general public may not have the appetite it once did for sharks on drum-lines getting “roughed up.”

What then can we do?

Just released footage of a viciously rotund Great White menacing two divers may hold the answer.

As you can see, the shark spots the divers and turns to eat one of them, white teeth bared, eyes rolled back in head.

The diver, unafraid, simply redirects the beast’s nose as if he were a boisterous St. Bernard puppy and have you ever had a St. Bernard puppy? I have. They are wonderful animals but so big and playful and often cause accidental damage. The “naughty puppy” nose shove becomes a tool of great value when utilized correctly.

Has anyone in Australia tried yet?

Does anyone in Australia own a St. Bernard puppy?

The best solutions are often right in front of our noses.

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?