Look! Friendly ocean creature!

Surfing’s pre-eminent journalist slams Sixty Minutes’ child-like take on Australia’s Great White crisis! “What would you do if you swam into … Jaws?”

“We’re to blame for the surprising boom in shark bites…”

The world’s pre-eminent surf journalist Sean Doherty, a man who will crumble bones and drink blood in the pursuit of a story, has come out swinging at tabloid current affairs show 60 Minutes for its child-like take on Australia’s Great White Crisis. 

In episode 39, Close Encounters, which comes two weeks after a Perth man swimming fifty feet from shore was disappeared by a Great White, we get the usual tabloid arc on shark attacks, a little shock and horror (“What would you do if you swam into Jaws,”) followed by resolution and reassurance – technology will save us along with what might loosely be called an expert on the matter saying, well, more people in the water ergo more attacks. 

Nothing to see here, move on etc. 

Doherty, who is the author of the definitive MP: the Life of Michael Peterson, My Brother’s Keeper: the official Bra Boy’s story, once voted the World’s Best Surf Reporter, who owns print magazine Surfing World and who helped steer public opinion against new oil drilling in Australian waters, was savage in his attack.

When 60 Minutes tweeted, “Dr Nathan Hart, a world-leading animal neurologist, puts the increase in shark encounters down to one simple fact: humans are sharks are mixing more than ever before,

Doherty responded,

“One simple fact? More people? All recent fatalities have been victims of White shark attack. White sharks have been protected in Australian waters for 20 years. Breeding cycle 12-15. Your reporter just nodded his way blithely through this claim.” 

Doherty knows.

He grew up surfing the NSW mid-north Coast and has seen that dreamy lil stretch of surf heaven turn into a superhighway for Great Whites. 

In May, he wrote about life in Tuncurry after a surfer was killed by a fifteen-foot Great White at one of the area’s best waves. 

Growing up in Forster and surfing during the ‘80s and ‘90s, I never really encountered sharks, not whites anyway. We’d catch whalers outside while fishing, but you never saw sharks while surfing. This was the heyday of the Tuncurry Bar, half a mile out to sea off Tuncurry Beach at the mouth of Wallis Lake, one of the best right-handers on the east coast. When the Bar broke, nobody ever thought twice about sharks. They were never front of mind.

But that’s changed in recent years. With the white shark protected since 1999, and the primary east coast breeding ground just down the coast, they’re regular visitors. When the NSW Department of Primary Industries began their trial of Smart drum-lines in the area back in 2017, they immediately confirmed what many local surfers already knew. The DPI picked up 65 white sharks in six months between the town beaches of Tuncurry and Burgess, most of them juveniles between two and  three metres. 

Obvious questions.

Will the conversation, as it’s called, turn specifically to Great Whites or stick to “sharks” thus muddying the debate with platitudes like more sharks are killed by humans than vice-versa, cue photos of sharks being finned, and when will any of the supposed experts, none of whom appear to surf, arrive at a number for the current population of Great Whites?

And, to the point of more people surfing ergo more attacks, I’d suggest the numbers of swimmers off Perth has dwindled to almost zero, most of ’em swimming so close to shore they almost hit the sand with their arm strokes, and at known Great White haunts surfer numbers are down dramatically.

Or I’m wrong.

Tell me.

Later, VAL.
Later, VAL.

Tybee Island, Georgia’s most popular surf spot, experiencing horrific surge of headless roosters, cups of blood being left on beach as experts wonder if voodoo is being practiced to cull herd of VALs!

The answer?

The VAL-pocalypse is truly upon us, each and every one, but how many brand new adult learners do you see around your local lineups each day? Ten? Twenty? Fifty? Seventy wouldn’t be out of the question and we surfers, we proud few who first paddled out before the age of twelve, are left with a real quandary.

What then shall we do?

Well, a brave soul in Georgia may have stumbled upon the answer.


Georgia, directly above Florida and much like it except with a good college team, is not known for its surf but certainly has some and mostly on Tybee Island. Many surf schools there. Much soft top though also headless birds left on the beach and cups of blood.

Per a report from Atlanta’s Channel 2 Action News:

Someone is leaving what appears to be animal sacrifices on the beach at Tybee Island. Channel 2 Action News has learned that police have found headless birds on the beach five times in 2021.

“I touched one, but it sure looks like blood to me,” said a witness on police body camera video. “Yeah, those would be roosters,” replied the officer.

Police said two headless roosters and six red plastic cups with dried blood were found on the beach in late September.

“Oh, cups of blood! No, I don’t know if they were performing some type of ritual or what, but I don’t like it,” said Stephanie Keeler of O’Fallon, Illinois, who was visiting Tybee Island’s beach.

Channel 2 Action News filed an open records request with the City of Tybee Island and learned that headless birds were found on the beach five times in 2021.

“We don’t know exactly why it keeps happening. The way appears to be ritualistic, but we don’t know whether it’s part of organized religion or what the intent might be,” said Lt. Emory Randolph with the Tybee Island Police Department.

I think brilliant.

I think if we, each and every one, purposed to leave headless birds and cups of blood on our favorite VAL infested spots we’d soon clean it all up.


A better idea?

Well, spill those beans.

The bad old days.
The bad old days.

Reaching peak abundance of caution, New Zealand lifeguards ordered to wear masks when plucking drowning swimmers, surfers from Davy Jones’ Locker!

So long, CPR.

It is summertime in beautiful New Zealand, or almost summertime, and the beaches are filled with happy locals who have spent much of the last year-plus locked indoors. They are out now, and free, but maybe too free flocking to beaches and forgetting how to swim, surf.

There were two mass rescues, yesterday. One in Raglan after hundreds of people got sucked out to sea in a giant rip tide. Fourteen souls were saved and none lost. Another in Auckland where thirteen souls were snatched from Davy Jones’ Locker and none lost.

Lifeguards, brave and bold, hoisting dripping wet, gasping men and women into boats, helping them to shore.

Lifeguards, courageous and resolute, pumping chests and not performing CPR with their mouths because their mouths and noses are covered with abundant caution.

Yes, New Zealand became the first country to require its lifeguards to wear masks whilst on duty. Raglan’s patrol captain Molly Abrams told Radio New Zealand that all lifeguards had been given cotton masks to wear “when practicable” but that “saving lives was still a priority.”

CPR seems outdated, anyhow, so all good.

Wavepool war heats up.

Wild West-style showdown looms in Queensland wavepool war as developer declares, “There’s only room in this town for one of us!”

Get your guns, boys.

It’s a little ironic that the Sunshine Coast, sixty miles of warm-water coastline that includes the iconic points of Noosa Heads, is the site of three proposed wavepool developments.

You’ve heard about the WSL’s $1.2 billion Slater pool and “intensive housing” development on a Sunshine  Coast floodplain.

(For background read: Longtom investigates WSL’s billion-dollar wavepool development, parts one and two, here and here.)

The other two tanks include a “$130 million mega waterpark” featuring an Endless Surf wavepool, and a $25 mill Waco-style pool (American Wave Machines) on the site of an old gas station in the Glass House Mountains. 

The Endless Surf tank, part of a $130 mill “mega water park”.

All of ‘em are “holistic” and promote “wellness” and “yoga and meditation.” 

Now, the developer of the $130 mill park, which has already been approved, has made a submission against the Glass House Mountains pool claiming the Sunshine Coast ain’t big enough for the both of ‘em.

American Wave Machines tank in the Glass House mountains, RRP $25 mill.

“It is considered that the market for more than one surf park facility on the Sunshine Coast is unsustainable at this stage,” the submission reads, adding a pool needs a quarter-million customers a year to work and that ain’t gonna happen if the joint is littered with the things.

Howevs, of the 980 submissions made in regards to the Glass House Mountains pool, most were in favour. 

The Kelly Slater WSL development, meanwhile, promises a 20,000-capacity stadium, 1500 “waterfront homes”, a six-star eco-resort, restaurants, bars, a retail village and “an environmental education centre based on the site’s wetlands and nearby waterways.” 

And that’s before you even step into the main arena.

“Our Kelly Slater Wave Co technology is the biggest wave height wise and by far the longest man made wave in the world and will stage WSL events,” World Surf League Australia general manager Andrew Stark’s told the Courier Mail. “(The wave pools) could coexist on the Sunshine Coast as the product offering is very different.”

Stark has described the local surfing community as “ecstatic and excited.”

Cold water Teahupo'o.
Cold water Teahupo'o.

Surprising new study suggests that surfing in Ireland leads to profound improvements in mental health: “Immersion in cold water releases feel-good endorphins, exposure to burly man-eating slabs puts a pep in the step!”

Hearty folk.

One of my very favorite people in the metaverse* is Jimmy the Cynic née Saint who can often be found right here on BeachGrit sharing various wisdoms and hot takes. Now, I have always assumed the aforementioned to be Irish living in Ireland and I feel that I am correct so you can imagine my pleasure, today (on my 11th wedding anniversary), when I stumbled across a report on Raidió Teilifís Éireann that definitively suggested surfing in Ireland improves one’s mental health.

Per a just-released report:

Early findings have shown surf therapy to boost factors that help protect against the development of mental illness, such as resilience, confidence, social skills and emotional regulation. Furthermore, young people reported feeling happier and physically fitter. At the same time, parents noted improved communication and progress at school following a six-week surf therapy course.

However, the question remains, how are these therapeutic benefits achieved through something as simple as surfing? One of the many unique aspects of surf therapy is its use of Ireland’s beautiful, rugged coastline as a therapeutic space. Offering programmes in less traditional, non-clinical, informal environments can reduce the stigma and shame often associated with help-seeking for emotional problems. Moreover, the natural environment may be part and parcel of the power of surf therapy.

Wonderful to know and also makes me very much more in awe of Jimmy and his brethren, sisters as the only surf spot I know in Ireland is Mullaghamore, the “cold water Teahupo’o.”

That making anyone happier is… something.

Viva Ireland.

*Is the internet called the metaverse now or did I miss a turn somewhere?