Been shooting a bit of surf over the last few days, which means in between taking pics of guys on waves there are a few odd other things to click at to pass the time. Here they are.
There was another serious shark attack on a bodyboarder in Reunion on Saturday afternoon. He was bitten whilst surfing a reef at Etang Sale, which is just south of St Leu, the islands premier wave.
Reports indicate that his leg was severed off at the thigh during the attack.
This brings the total of shark attacks in Reunion this year to three. The last attack was on July 15, when a young girl was killed at Saint-Paul (just north of St Leu) while she was bathing a few meters offshore. In May, a French honeymooner was killed by a shark while surfing not far from the island's popular beach of Brisants de Saint-Gilles (also just north of St Leu).
This brings the total number of attacks since 2010 to 14. Yip, that's 14 incidents in the space of 3 years. Of these 6 were fatal.
The majority of attacks have occurred on the NW and west side of the island - where the islands only fish farm is located. Many of the locals point the finger at the fish farm in St Paul Bay, which was built in 2007 (consisting of 7 cages), as one of the reasons for the sudden spike in attacks.
Reunion has experienced shark attacks before, but generally only 1 or 2 a year, with many years of no attacks. However since 2010 there has been 14 attacks, of which 6 have been fatal.
It's not as simple as going 1+1 = 2, and blaming the fish farm for the increase in attacks, but yoh, it's an unnerving coincidence if nothing else.
Other possible contributing factors include the recent creation of the Marine Reserve (also 2007), a twelve-mile-long protected zone established on the west coast to try to save the threatened coral of the barrier reef. Fishing is either banned or strictly regulated in this area - so locals believe it's become a "pantry" for sharks, as there are plentiful fish for them to eat.
Another factor could be the 1999 ban on the commercialisation of sharks on the island as they were thought to be contaminated with ciguatuerra, a poisonous toxin that causes serious food poisoning. This meant sharks could no longer be sold on Reunion as food. That meant the local shark fishing industry disappeared almost overnight - you couldn't catch it to sell, as you weren't allowed to sell it, and no-one wanted to eat it anyway.
So are the attacks all because of this cascade of coincidences?
A whole lot more sharks because of the ban on shark fishing in the entire island, and then the draw of this increased shark population to the NW of the island due to a combination of the fish farm, marine protected area and increased wastewater run-off into the sea from the expanding urbanised zones nearby creating an ideal feeding environment?
It's impossible to point a finger at a specific cause, and most likely it's a combination of all of the above. Plus a whole bunch of other things we probably haven't even considered.
Either way - it's gotto be really, really tough right now to be a surfer in Reunion. Watching pumping waves go unridden due to the current ban on surfing in the area. Do you roll the dice, ignore the ban, and take your chances?
Is that wave worth your life?
But then again, is it a life worth living if you stop surfing?
In the battle of fin vs shin, fin wins...every time.
A late arvo surf at small, onshore Millers turned from a "get wet" sesh to a "mission off to casualty" sesh for longboarder Gregg Clarke on Wednesday. He isn't too sure what actually happened, but thinks the board pinged back at him after a wipeout - fins first.
Nothing like a bit of ketchup in the water to clean the line-up pronto.
It was a pretty gnarly gash - that white stuff you see in the pic is a bit of shin bone peeping through. So it was off to casualty for some stitches. Gregg's cool as a cucumber though - when asked how he was holding up he went...."just being casual....in casualty". Gotto give the man props for still having some decent humour when he's got a lekker eina shin and about to face the prospect of stitches.
So wishing Gregg a speedy recovery!! Luckily for him the swell forecasts look dismal for the foreseeable future, so he won't be missing out too many sessions.
(Update: sliced through the muscle to the bone. Took 12 stitches to close...and the thread snapped a coupla times during the stitching process!)
Fin cuts - how to avoid them
It's pretty much impossible to always avoid tangling with your fins at some stage. But what will help is if you sand the leading edges of your fins down a wee bit. Just take that razor sharp edge off of 'em. It won't make any difference to your surfing at all, but it can make a moer of a difference as to how much that fins gonna bite you when the two of you tango.
If you really wanna be 100% sure that your fins will never eat you, then grab some ProTek fins. They have a hard plasticized leading edge to them. I bought a set years ago, when first learning to surf, as was freaked out by getting nicked by my fins. They work great, and are still happily attached to my 6ft1 Spowy out in St Francis.
Definitely a consideration for your single fin longboard if you aren't convinced about 'em for your thruster.
Fin cuts - what to do when you get one
Get out the water for a start. Fin cut is one thing, having an interested toothy friend come out to suss you out is another.
Try rinse the wound out with fresh water straight away. Luckily most of the local beaches have a tap or shower you can use. Find something clean to press onto the cut. It helps to keep the affected area above heart level to reduce the bleeding.
If the bleeding repeatedly makes its way through the whatever you holding onto the area, then stitches are likely to be needed. If the blood is really pumping out then get yourself off to casualty or the doc asap - better if you can get someone else to drive you.
Closest doc to the beach is the medical practice in 8th Avenue, opposite the exit from the Summerstrand Village shopping centre - so it's a good place to head if you reckon you're gonna need to be stitched up, as it's literally down the road from the beach.
If it's been raining recently, then might be wise to ask the Doc for a jab for Hep A as well.....the stormwater drains that empty outta the pipes into the surf can spew out some grim stuff after the rains. Fin cut not kiff. Fin cut plus staph or Hep infection very unkiff.
Prevention is better than cure - sand those fins down!
For those in the dark - Die Antwoord is the Saffa equivalent to the bastard love-child between Eminem & Lady Gaga. White Afrikaans rap with a serious freak factor. And the international surfing world is drinking it right in.....
Was reading an article in a surf mag about a trip Dane Reynolds, Taylor Knox and Craig Anderson did to Mexico recently. And right there in the first paragraph it's talking about their road trip - and how Taylor Knox is asking Dane about his strange taste in music that is busy blaring out the car's speakers....turns out it's none other than Die Antwoord!
Die Antwoord have actually featured a few times in surf vid's; both surf/savant Clay Marzo and mad Matty Wilkenson (Wilko) have used them in their video edits (see below).
I can definitely see both Clay & Wilko digging their sound, but gotto say wouldn't have pegged Dane as as ardent fan. Truth is stranger than fiction.
Just a bit of news on what's happening along the beachfront after the recent Coastal Forum meeting I attended:
Hobie beach has been closed as a public launch site for motorised craft, and it can only be used by commercial operators eg ProDive, or emergency services. The jetski/boat launch area has moved down to the launch site at Kings Beach. The municipality has upgraded an access road down onto the beach, with a parking area on the beach, for this purpose. BUT, before all the regular Fence surfers rub their hands in glee at the prospect of being able to park on the beach (cos there is no gate/boom across the access road).....the road/parking are for launch license disk holders ONLY.
What that means, is if you go park down there without a license, you could get a fine of R2000. That's even more expensive than the underground parking at Walmer Park! Seriously though, the ou's will be doing random spot checks regularly (specially in season) and will stick that very un-kiff pink ticket on your windscreen if you're bust down there. So you gonna be rolling the dice if you decide to risk a park there without a disk.
If you have a boat/jetski & want to apply for a launch license disk, which incurs an annual license fee, then hook past the Beach Office over the road from Humewood to fill in an application form. Even if you have a license, the area is limited to 50 vehicles, so in season you might still not be able to get a spot.
Just a heads up that the grass area above Humewood is not a parking spot - despite us being able to use it when repairs to the boardwalk opposite Barneys were underway. Now that construction work has finished it's back to being a no-go zone. So don't be tempted to park your cabbie up there - cos the pink ticket ou will come get you. There are better ways to waste money.
The Opening of the Season moves from Hobie Beach to Happy Valley this year. Am not too sure where they're going to be launching the fireworks from so they don't burn the valley down, but anyhows. The plan is to eventually get it down to Kings Beach, where there is ample space & parking available. Maybe next year?
A permanent beachfront security presence, with SAPS and metro jointly patrolling on a daily basis, supported by the private security industry through Atlas and ADT, should be starting soon. Thanks to local DA Councillor for Ward 2, Dean Biddulph, for getting this off the ground. Here's hoping that it will help curtail the recent spate of break-ins to vehicles at Pipe and Fence especially.
And keep your beach clean peeps. Not hard to bend down and pick up a piece of trash when you're walking back after your surf. Cos hey, if a World Champ can do it, then so the you! If everyone just picked up even one piece of litter after each surf we'd have such clean beaches. It costs you nothing. Make the effort!
Mick Fanning calls is "Cleaning the Office".....
A late morning Friday swim ended in tragedy when Jeffreys Bay local Burgert van der Westhuizen was fatally bitten by a large Great White. The attack occurred in the lower Point area, in the small bay where you'd normally kick out after a decent wave.
Initially eyewitnesses had thought there were of 2 sharks involved in the incident. As the shark was so big (~5m) the distance between it's tail and dorsal fins had created the impression of 2 sharks.
A local surfer, Terry Olivier, was paddling back from the Kabeljous on his kayak and when people waved & screamed to him from the rocks. He went nearer shore and was told that there'd just been an attack and could he go out and investigate. He found the victim lying face down in the water. He tried to retrieve the body but the shark would not let go despite him trying to push it away with his paddle. At this stage Olivier realised that the victim was deceased and that the aggravated shark posed a possible threat to him. Olivier said that the shark was bigger than his kayak - which is 5m long.
He turned and paddled back to shore quickly. Eye witnesses report the shark followed Olivier's kayak as he paddled in. The NSRI were quickly on the scene and circled the body with a jetski to keep the shark away so that they could retrieve the remains.
This is the first fatal shark attack in the PE/JBay/St Francis area.
Burgert was a keen long distance swimmer and had been on his regular swim route along the backline from Supers down to the beach after Albatross. Conditions were clean with good visibility.
Local surfer Garth Robinson said that there has been a whale calving in the bay for a week which has been very close to the beach. It has been followed by 2 seals waiting for the afterbirth. This may have drawn the shark into the area.
I spoke with local shark expert Dr Matt Dicken about the incident. Dr Dicken said that whites hunt visually as well as by smell, so it is not unusual for them to attack in clean conditions - as this assists them in locating their prey.
He also pointed out that studies on white shark behaviour in both Algoa Bay and Cape Town have shown that seasonally, more white sharks were recorded inshore during September/October than any other months. Helicopter and shore angling surveys of the beaches also seem to support the observation that they're more common close inshore during spring and summer.
The recent stats released for the 9 month recording period for the 3 listening stations off Kings Beach, Humewood slipway & Something Good shows 9 great whites were detected in the between May 2012 and January 2013. Most of the sharks were detected in September (6 of the 9).
Shark attack statistics for South Africa show that most of the recorded incidents actually occurred during the November/December/January period. Since 1913 there have been 532 recorded human/shark encounters, 96 of these being fatal (18%).
There have been 4 fatal shark attacks in the last 3 years. Two at Port St Johns (one in March this year, the other a year prior), the bodyboarder killed at Caves in Koeel Bay last year, and the surfer at Lookout at Plett in 2011.
Fridays fatal attack is an absolute tragedy, and heartfelt condolences to Burgert's family and friend's.
Let's remember that although shark attacks do happen, thankfully they are rare. The minute our feet leave the sand we are entering a marine world of which we are not the apex. We accept the inherent risks every time we paddle or swim out.
I wrote an article for The Bomb surf magazine two years ago entitled called "Understanding the Shark factor" which takes an in-depth look at Great White shark attacks addressing the perception that these have been increasing in recent years. You can download the article here. It includes full statistics on all shark attacks in SA.
Interview with Terry Olivier - kayaker at the scene
Justin Grey, winner of the CYOH Surf Off series for 2012, just got back from his 1st prize trip to Indo thanks to All Aboard Travel.
"Myself and my girlfriend just arrived back from a rad trip to Bali thanks to Cyoh and All Aboard Travel. We were based at a Resort in Balangan, called Flowerbud, surfing Dreamland and travelling around from there.
We missioned to Nusa Lemongan and I surfed at Shipwrecks, was good to surf a right after all the lefts! A definite highlight was snorkeling around Manta Point. We also cruised around on a scooter to closer breaks including Uluwatu.
Was a really good time of the year - waves were firing almost daily and the crowd was min, basically getting all the sets with a few local guys. All round it was a sick holiday and something my doll and I will always remember + was rad break from work but now I'm already in the thick of things and looking forward to the 4th Quarter of 2013!"
Keen on a surf trip? Get in touch with Lorrin at All Aboard Travel and she'll hook you up no probs. Lorrin rocks, and will get you the best deals delivered with great service. Plus she lives at Seals...so support local cos local is lekker!