Feisty Whites.

Australia’s Great White Crisis: New documentary by Discovery Channel investigates why Western Australian sharks are “more aggressive than others”…

Secrets revealed?

Last week, I spent one fascinating hour examining the new military-grade crankshaft tourniquets of Mr Jon Cohen, the emergency department doctor who has made it his business to stem the death rate from Great White shark attacks in Australia.

His new shark bite kits are a work of art.

Rip it open, pour the calico package onto the sand, it unfurls, the instructions are printed on the fabric and out spills the crank-shaft tourniquet, a smaller SWAT version you can keep in your wetsuit, as well as plastic gloves, and various pads for mopping up the expected torrent of blood.

Jon lives in Sydney most of the year but spends a little time each year in the ED of Esperance Hospital in south-west Australia, a town reeling from recent multiple attacks by Great Whites.

Seventeen-year-old surfer Laeticia Brouwer, killed; Sean Pollard, a surfer, left arm and right hand gone; Gary Johnson, hit by a White as soon as he dived into the water to set his anchor, killed.

Jon knows hits by Great Whites in Esperance are a new reality.

“I know some guys who were in the ED that day (Laeticia Brouwer was killed) and it was a traumatic experience to manage. Cases like that 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.”

He doesn’t have, or won’t share, any opinion concerning solutions to a growing population but he does have a solution post-hit. His goal is to have a shark bite kit at all the main beaches, and he runs regular classes on what to do if a White takes a limb.

His kits even include a sticker to put on your car to show you’re packing a tourniquet and the skills to staunch a wound.

Esperance has become such a byword for Great Whites, the Discovery Channel brought a New York-based marine biologist, Dr Craig O’Connell, to the isolated town to film a documentary exploring the peculiarly aggressive nature of Esperance’s Great Whites.

All this went down before the hail of attacks by Great Whites on Australia’s North and Mid-North Coasts, including two fatalities, and a handful of near-misses, all within three months.

The film, called Lair of the Great White, made for Discovery’s Shark Week, investigates “why a population of great whites off the coast of Western Australia is so much more aggressive than others”.

O’Connell and his film crew only used a cage to get to the seabed and back to the boat. After that it was balls to the wall, so to speak.

“Once we were on the sea floor, we had a bunch of scientific tasks that we had to accomplish and a lot of those required us to get outside of the cage. We can use the caves and the crevices as a way to keep a nice ledge to our backs so the sharks can’t come from behind,” he said.

Any secrets revealed?

Only that the joint hosts a Great White nursery.


(Watch here, although y’gonna need the keys to a TV-sub service.)

Culture Wars erupt in France as national pastime, topless sunbathing, comes under fire for “harming the sweet and precious eyes of innocent children!”

"Guided by a desire for appeasement..."

The word has shifted a few more degrees closer to what scientists call “complete upside-down-ness” when, last weekend, two women sunbathing topless on a French beach (faire briller les balises de la liberté in the local tongue) were asked to cover up as they were offending a nearby family.

Shock and outrage spread through the nation with the interior minister weighing in, “It was wrong that the women were warned about their clothing. Freedom is something precious.”

It was once made illegal in several French towns to wear the full-body covering “Burkini.”

The police officers, fearing for their lives, released the following statement, “Guided by a desire for appeasement, the police asked the people concerned if they would agree to cover their chest after they explained the reason for their approach.”

“Guided by a desire for appeasement” is the country’s unofficial anthem.

The bikini happened to be invented in France, 75-years ago, though many opt for the “monokini” or bottoms alone.

Gazing at monokinis on the beach has long been sport for professional surfers traveling to Europe from the more prudish United States of America with looks of wide-eyed amazement featuring in many of our best films.

It appears that no further action will be taken, momentarily relieving scientists who don’t know the full consequences of reaching “complete upside-down-ness.” There is worry Kelly Slater might want to become Sal Masekela’s best friend in the whole wide world but be regularly sent to voicemail and other such mind imploding business.

People menacing and eating sharks in the water etc.

Very off-putting.

Fanning and sharks from new Nat Geo documentary. | Photo: Save This Shark

Long read: Mick Fanning on Great White J-Bay hit and the continuing nightmares, “I still have this PTSD… I was so insignificant to that shark”

"The most brutal conclusion imaginable wrapped inside an ocean monster six metres long, weighing two tonnes, with an open mouth that is red, the colour of blood, and white, the colour of teeth."

It’s a quirk of fate that Mick Fanning, three-time world champion, will be remembered, forever, as the surfer who was almost cleaved in two, live, by a fifteen-foot White at Jeffreys Bay in 2015.

In a profile in today’s The Weekend Australian, the decorated journalist and author Trent Dalton works his lyrical alchemy, wrapping the attack around the death of two brothers, a divorce and a new documentary Fanning stars in called Save This Shark.

Five years on, Fanning tells his interlocutor that he still dreams about the hit.

The nightmare is mostly the same every time. He’s back in the water on his surfboard and he’s waiting for a wave and he knows it’s ­Jeffreys Bay, South Africa, where all the madness began in 2015 and if he knows where he is in the dream then he knows what’s coming. Death. A splash behind him because that’s how it happened in real life. He turns around on his board and what he sees is the end of the ride. The end of all good things. A finale to an impossibly full life of only 39 years. The most brutal conclusion imaginable wrapped inside an ocean monster six metres long, weighing two tonnes, with an open mouth that is red, the colour of blood, and white, the colour of teeth.

And then he wakes and he realises he’s still alive. Still in one piece. Same ol’ unassuming, uncomplaining, knockabout, sun-bleached Gold Coast surfing genius Mick Fanning, flat on his back and sucking deep breaths in the darkness of early morning, sweaty head full of dreaming, ­beating heart too full of muscle remembering.

The most brutal conclusion imaginable wrapped inside an ocean monster six metres long, weighing two tonnes, with an open mouth that is red, the colour of blood, and white, the colour of teeth.

“I mean, it’s like I’m in the actual position I was in,” Fanning says. “It’s a reality dream. You sort of learn your body can do so many things to make things real and not real and I just had to learn, ‘OK, that moment’s been done. It’s not real. These dreams are just coming back’.”

He shakes his head in the cool winter air of Coolangatta, shivers with his hands in the pockets of a black winter coat, seated at a cafe table beside the footpath of a bustling post-morning-surf ­dining precinct. “I still have this PTSD where, if people splash behind me, it freaks me out,” he says. He chuckles when he says this. It’s not the laugh of a man trying to put on a brave face. It’s the laugh of a man trying to make sense of the absurd; a man grappling with a trauma that he realises he avoided confronting for close to five years.

Most of The Weekend Australian’s stories are shackled by a paywall.

This ain’t.

Read here.

Cult hype man Erik Logan (left) wonders if your life needs a spark.
Cult hype man Erik Logan (left) wonders if your life needs a spark.

Listen: “Kelly Slater as guru, Erik Logan as pie-eyed number two, and how to fix the World Surf League by turning it into a cult!”


Professional surfing is hanging on by the thinnest of threads. Whatever rosy (Hodge and other) cord is anchoring our World Surf League, it ain’t thick. Hundreds (tens?) have lost their jobs. Kanoa Igarashi’s name is now Igarshi because… CEO Erik Logan is the last employee in the room and he hasn’t spelled since mangling Orpah to Oprah.

It’s an utter apocalypse with zero hope for survival.

Zero hope except swerving the entire thing into a cult.

Track with me here.

Surfing is “spiritual.” Cults are “successful.”

Get it?

Scientology, NXVIM, Branch Davidian… etc.

There’s gold in them hills and professional surfing has the tools to mine.

A bizarre guru (Kelly Slater)?


A pie-eyed preacher who don’t have a lick of sense (Erik Logan)?


I honestly don’t see how it goes bad if “professional surfing” becomes a “new religion.”



Imagine how happy Co-Waterperson of the Year Dirk Ziff would be not to pay taxes and also to be benefactor of a whole “new religion.” To be honest, it seems like what he’s been angling for all along.


David Lee Koresh and I also discuss distance learning for seven-year-olds on today’s podcast.

Certain to excite.

Shock: Joe Biden speaks coherently, Donald J. Trump in carefully measured tone, at respective conventions!

A dull new world!

I’ll tell you, I thought I could not be surprised this 2020 running of the presidential hopefuls (USA). On the Democratic side we have “Bad Grandpa” Joe Biden, a political fixture for decades and the choice zero Democrats actually wanted but the one they probably deserved.

Republicans have Donald J. Trump. An obese man with a funny tongue.

Zero nuance in either.

No possible revelation.

Except look at me, positively shocked.

Both parties have now concluded their conventions. Once the high water mark of political theater, Covid has decimated them to the third most interesting Zoom call of any given day.

A bummer except even in the bummer both candidates soared*.

Bad Grandpa spoke coherently enough to force the Trump campaign to swerve away from the “He’s senile!” messaging and try to embrace “He’ll be a tool of the extreme left.”

Trump was so careful, so measured, in his speech last night that National Public Radio gave him very high marks for decorum.

National Public Radio.

Is election 2020 actually going to be… boring? Like straight old-white-men-acting-their-dull-old-age boring?

On one hand, say it ain’t so.

On the other, whoa.


*Crawled like geriatrics.