Creator of epic Great White VR footage reveals the mind-blowing secret he uses to avoid getting bitten by the twenty-foot behemoths, “It’s the coolest thing I’ve ever seen in my life!”

Ain't no second chances with Great Whites but this amazing technique works every time for photography great Mikey Muller!

As well as being a close pal of my fav shaper Matt Biolos, the American photographer Mike Muller is noted for a lot of things: his celeb portraits of Hollywood’s A-List, Brad Pitt, Scarlett Johansson, Bobby Downey Jnr etc, the covers for VF, Elle and Esquire, the poster images for Spiderman, the Avengers and his advertising work for the big guns, including Dolce and Gabbana’s handbag campaign with Sharon Stone last year. 

But what thrills, and what drives the fifty-two-year-old snowboarder from northern California, is his work with Great White sharks, specifically filming ‘em in the wild, with a full studio-style rig, outside of cages. 

“I knew that I couldn’t bring the Great White to the studio,” Michael has said, “so I had to bring the studio to the Great White.”

Muller has just released an “immersive 360 degree video experience” for Oculus VR goggles called Into the Now. Four dollars fifty puts you next to a pregnant whale shark, amid a school of hammerheads and face to beak with the most feared predator of ‘em all, the Great White. 


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I don’t got the goggles but it’s almost enough to get me melting the plastic on a five-hundred dollar pair. 

But what is real interesting about Muller is his technique for avoiding getting mauled while shooting. This is the Great White, after all. Ain’t no second chances. 

“Great Whites are ambush predators,” says Muller. “It’s not the shark that you see, not the twenty-foot shark just over there – as long as we have eye contact …my head is on a swivel because eventually I’ll look down and see that two-and-a-half tons coming at me at twenty miles per hour like a missile. I then have to turn and swim head on at the shark. The minute I start swimming towards it, it looks at me, (thinks) I don’t like you, you’re a potential predator.”

In a podcast recorded with Rich Roll, Muller describes the day eight years ago when he learned the technique from the legendary South African diver and photographer Morne Hardenberg. 

“My flippers were down and I see a shark coming at me, like, full speed,” says Muller. “I grab my camera and I remember thinking rubber meets the road, here we go, I’m ready. I’m looking down and off this shoulder Mornay, holding his RED camera with two arms and the lights, goes head-on straight on at it. I watched it bank off and my first thought was, that’s the coolest thing I’ve seen in my life. 

“Second thought was, he just saved my life.

“Third thought was, that looks like that’s what you do. When we got to the surface he said, okay, when they come at you, you have to turn and swim head-on at them… the next day we were out of the cage, and we had two of ‘em come at us. One at him. One at me. I had no choice. I did it, alright here we go. If you freeze you’re done.” 

Why’s it work? 

“Here’s the thing,” says Muller. “Everything in the ocean, besides Orcas, swim away from that animal. Everything. The minute you start swimming towards it, that’s something they’re not used to. And, nothing touches that animal. Give it a little pinch and it’s gone.” 

“What a beautiful swim spoiled by an old man, who used a shower next to me to empty his bowels. Then he tried to break it and flush it out. So he blocked the drainage with the whole mess.”

Australia goes into meltdown after man empties bowels in busy beach shower, “Firstly I could smell it, then I saw his feet breaking it up!”

“I hope you had your thongs on!”

After several disastrous summers cursed by, first, pestilence, then rain, Australia’s east coast has eased into the sort of long, balmy days perfumed by great bursts of frangipani long associated with the deeply pleasant island continent.

The disease and wet has given this year a sweetness unparalleled in my lifetime, an urgent need to enjoy it while we can.

In Sydney, a city of almost five-and-a-half-million souls, all roads lead to the beach, usually Cronulla, Bondi or Manly.

And it’s in Manly, where we find a man in his harvest years, “relieving his bowels into a surf club public shower.”

Riso Glogo, who lives in the monied beachside suburb, described his experience of watching the “old man” enjoying his public toileting.

“What a beautiful swim spoiled by an old man, who used a shower next to me to empty his bowels. Then he tried to break it and flush it out. So he blocked the drainage with the whole mess.”

Glogo later told a local tabloid,

“’This was quite disgusting. Firstly I could smell it … then I saw [his] feet breaking [it up]. That made me feel sick … [and I] went outside to shower myself again.”

The response from locals on the Facebook thread was mostly humorous,

“I hope you had your thongs on,” said one.

“I’ve looked up the law on this situation and found out if it’s not claimed in seven days you can keep it,” quipped another.

Quixotic-lit: California surfer braves “bomb” swell and becomes reborn!

"Even a blind kook finds a nut every once in a while."

I have ridden (a little) bigger waves, warmer waves, prettier waves, longer waves and more so-called perfect waves, but I don’t think any wave as satisfying as the one this late afternoon.

The shorebreak was in tumult, so had to add a half mile to the paddle out from distant cove to avoid a premature, energy-suck and thrash; rewarded with a dry-hair entry to the outside. Finally, a mile and half later, alone on an outer shelf at low tide, the shore disconcertingly far. A place decades in familiarity, now feeling strange and discordant amid the scale.

The uber-hyped “bomb” swell revealing honor to its hype, the waves moving with unnatural speed and torquing roughly over the rock reef. The almost flat, still air a paradox as the residue of storm winds sending choppy teeth of ugly short-period energy on the surface of an unsettled sea. Eerily alone, and while unable to quiet of the doubts of “where is everyone” i still knew I could see, could feel, a gem was percolating amid the maelstrom. Confidence from hard-won experience (read: career filled with kooky wipeouts) created a confidence which drowned out – if by no means overwhelmed — by doubts, or a least pretending to do so – and listening to he louder voice that hungered for one which was good enough to keep me seeking.

Years of scrapping on the edges for waves amid the usual hungry horde at this “mysto-serious” semi-scret spot gave me a plan. The pushy sweep of the heavy 270-angle west energy threatened to shake me from the invisible, yet dependable, lineup entry point I had honed during the decades. For over an hour I had knew the “where” amid the “why,” via a triangulation of a particular outcropping of rock, an errant runoff hose from a decrepit manse on a hill, with a rocky promontory to the north completing the puzzle.

Temptation for a find wave was a duplicitous siren call to go inside – a fool’s mission, I knew — still calling even though i knew it was folly. And i had to ignore the luring, rouge section-y bombs just to the north, taunting me with seemingly perfect, firing walls. But I knew the eyes can lie, an illusion that was at once convincingly real, yet obvious in its dishonesty.

The stalking was not in movement of hunting down a prey, but in the never-stop energy to remain planted in the one place as the dance of the hunt.

An hour, alone, then a little more. No chit chat, except for the ca-caw of an errant sea bird. Then, in the far distance , a hump showed itself, but only a hint offering more questions than answers and I had been deceived and disappointed before. Would it hit down to the slot ofmy position, would it unfold elegantly or be beguiled by chunks of lips dropping on itself? Would it warble swing wide, or be just too small on this bottomed-out negative tide and pass underneath me. Then I saw it was mine and it was time.

A roping hook with a luscious edge of an entry point. As the wave felt the bottom causing it rise up and go convex, it was exactly where it should be, doing exactly what it should be doing, but to fulfill it’s destiny it needed a partner. I turned and of course, rearing its voice, an instinct demanded I flee. But this wave the final piece of a jig saw puzzle and a game I had been playing and staying a servant to what I cerebrally knew versus the reptilian part of the brain attempting to convince me to run – I stayed.

And like in a tango, I stepped into my particular role, humble role in the dance. A shot of of doubt laced with fear tried to cut in – but I stroked down the face of the behemoth, more fearsome in its speed and power than pure size. And then I was surfing. .A photo would be an injustice as it would imply that the end was more important than the journey to be there now (thank you Baba Ram Dass) and I dropped from the lip line and down the face, and then a single turn projecting me outwards along the face. Nothing fancy, nothing dramatic — those days are largely gone — but there was glide.

The wave — my wave — being where it was supposed to be and doing what it was supposed to do, and my playing my part in the pas de duex. And then it was over and I, well, have to admit, hooted at myself and to myself (except maybe for the seals – is it a claim if no one was there to hear or see it?) and Then like is there nature, it dissipated back into the sea. Cowabunga, boys and girls. Get yours, as mine will linger and accompany me for a long while.

I had a bowl of ice cream and a fat tumbler of Jack.

Even a blind kook finds a nut every once in a while.

Long-suffering surf fans break into sobs as The Eddie gets cancelled after being called on for first time in eight years!


Yesterday, long-suffering surf fans could not believe their eyes when they learned that the most prestigious surf contest on earth, The Eddie, had been called ON. Last run eight years ago, and won by Greg Long, the invitation only big wave extravaganza is something to behold and with giant surf rolling toward Waimea Bay, there on Oahu’s North Shore, everything was lining up just gloriously.

Just gloriously, that is, save the dastardly wind.

Eddie Aikau’s brother Clyde took to the microphone and delivered the devastating news.

The wind has turned it OFF.

“Due to the wind conditions that are going to be prevalent in the early morning and due to the size of the swell in the early morning, we are going to cancel the Eddie for Wednesday,” he told the gathered press.

While hardened surf fans tried to stifle sobs, Clyde attempted to provide hope, declaring that Jan. 22 might be a favorable date.

Little consolation, I suppose, for those brave invited few already on planes. Per sources close to the competitors, most were inbound and some from far flung locations.

Will they stay and enjoy a North Shore winter or hightail home?

Much sad.

Surfight. Photo: Apocalypse Now
Surfight. Photo: Apocalypse Now

Intrepid New Yorker reporter brazenly defies colleague William Finnegan’s advice, attempts to learn the art of surfing at an advanced age whilst covering Korean War games!

"You either surf or fight!"

Now, if there is one thing I appreciate, more than many, it is the combination of surfing and conflict. I got my start stitching the two together, heading to Yemen directly after 9/11 because that’s where Osama Bin Laden was from and the country’s mainland had never been surfed, continuing on to Somalia, bringing boards to warring Lebanon, etc.

The seriousness of conflict and the silliness of surfing juxtaposing so poetically.

A tableau of absurd.

It is why Francis Ford Coppola included the iconic “surf or fight” scene in his masterpiece Apocalypse Now, I think. And what could be better than that?

Thus, I was very pleased to stumble across the genre being re-explored in a most recent The New Yorker. E. Tammy Kim, a correspondent for the august publication, had traveled to South Korea ahead of the joint military exercises that would be conducted between that country and the United States in preparation for a Chinese and/or North Korea attack.

She described the press conference aboard a U.S. naval vessel, the tour she took in the belly of a war beast, the way that soldiers from the two nations handled life on the base and the bit of protest against provocation by locals outside the gates.

Before, though, she had attempted to surf.

An excerpt:

Earlier that week, I had stayed on Busan’s Songjeong Beach and taken beginner surfing lessons at a school styled like a beach shop in Malibu. Despite William Finnegan’s counsel, in “Barbarian Days,” that it’s impossible to become a proficient surfer “at an advanced age, meaning over fourteen,” I felt compelled to try. A more relevant memoir was Diane Cardwell’s “Rockaway,” about learning to surf in New York City during a midlife crisis. I wiggled into a warm-weather wetsuit and sat with a few other, much younger, newbies for a brief orientation on Day One. I had worried that pelagic jargon in Korean, my second language, would elude me, but surfing speak is all borrowed English: paddle, leash, nose, tail.

The teacher was a young, floppy-haired man shaped like an upside-down trapezoid. (I later learned that he was primarily a bodybuilder.) He showed us how to tie a leash and carry a giant foam board in the wind. We practiced the universal motions of pop-up and takeoff on the sand, knowing how much harder it would be on the water. We waded in past the impact zone, where waves crashed white. We lay stomach down on our boards as the instructor pushed us, one by one, onto the crests of incoming waves. I stood up a few times and felt an unnatural, physics-defying joy. I also learned to sit up on my board, straddling the tail and looking out at the sea. The waves appeared newly mysterious: Which ones would be good enough to ride? Where did they come from? What other bodies and vessels had they touched?

The piece moves on, adeptly, to the roots of the Korean Peninsula troubles, public opinion on matters, a “one Korea” bit and more war games but oh boy.


Finnegan, as you must know, also writes for The New Yorker and I am very happy that Kim recalled his counsel. The impossibility of becoming proficient, or even lower-intermediate, adult learning. Now, I am really all the way tired of adult learning, especially in the wake of Covid, but as a writer, and an appreciator of conflict + surfing in the service of Kafka, adult learning might be the very best.

Absurd piled upon absurd.

While Korea is safe, this whole business made me wonder where the best place to adult learn would be today.