Archive for the ‘Hawaiian Culture’ Category

We don’t mean sex, drugs and surf babes (sorry, sorry, that’ll be a future post). We mean chicks, as in chickens. If you live Kauai, you gots. And when momma has babies and they make a home in your garden and you’re a bleeding’ heart who can’t help but fall in love with their chirpy poofy fluff, and you want them to stay so they don’t get eaten in the cruel harsh world by the feral cats, well, you need to supplement their diet so you still have some veggies left for yourself. These wild chicks realize they’re not supposed to be doing this, but are so excited about the hemp seeds they can’t help themselves.

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Despite the rain and wind, close to two thousand [not "hundreds" as per The Garden Island] showed up yesterday at the March in March to Evict Monsanto (and friends) in Poipu, Kauai, to protest the invasion of GMOs on Kauai and throughout Hawai’i. Energy was amazing, and the march led into a party at Poipu Park with live music and heaping platters of local non-GMO foods. The above slideshow of the event and related imagery was taken from a variety of sources including: Regenerations International Botanical Garden / Mac James; Carol Ann DavisSamuel Morgan ShawJamey KauaiDanny Hashimoto; Carol Ann Davis; Justin Zern; Forest Shomer; Geoff Morris; Bill Collins.*

This is a ripe moment, at least in the initial step of labeling GMOs in Hawai’i, as the labeling bill HB174 has made it through the House, and is now waiting on the Senate. Sure at this de-evolved stage the bill will now only label imported GE produce (essentially useless), but to keep optimistic we’ll consider it a symbolic beginning. And there are a number of important related bills on the table that range from pesticide usage, genetically modified organism quarantine, and water rights. We will soon learn if our representatives are indeed there to represent the people or the chemical companies. Hawai’i residents are watching, taking names, and no one’s vote will go unnoticed.  

At the same time, the heavily sprayed GMO fields are spreading from the West side of Kauai all the way into Lihue and the East side of the island (with similar pandemic scenarios occurring on all the islands). The Syngenta herbacide Atrazine (aka the 21st Century’s DDT), which is sprayed on all the GMO corn, has saturated the groundwater and is now present in the drinking water of Waimea. At a recent community meeting on the subject they discussed a few of the issues:

“If you are a male exposed to Atrazine, your testosterone goes away, so you’re demasculinized, or chemically castrated…. And you’re also feminized because you’re making estrogen, which you should not be doing as a male…. We know that the sperm goes away when you give a fish Atrazine, when you give a frog Atrazine, when you give a reptile Atrazine, when you give a bird Atrazine, when you give a rat Atrazine. Testosterone goes down and the sperm goes away and now this correlation says there’s an association in humans as well.” –Tyrone Hayes, Atrazine expert, Biology Professor UC Berkeley (Syngenta actually paid him to do studies, then tried to pressure him not to release them)

It’s also associated with birth defects, low birth rates, premature births, and the Atrazine legacy apparently carries on for generations. One might think it was necessary, but corn yields have gone up in Germany and Italy since it was banned in 1991. Swisse-based Syngenta can’t even use it in their homeland, as it’s been banned across the entire EU. Watch Huffington Post Investigative Fund’s: “How Safe is Atrazine”.

Even if you don’t drink the tap water, it’s in your shower (activated charcoal filters are necessary to remove it), you’re watering your garden with it, it’s in the rivers your kids swim in and the waves we all surf, and certainly some of the local fish we eat. Atrazine also evaporates quite well into the atmosphere in what they call volatilization drift:

After drifting, it comes back into our waterways via rainfall. Atrazine has been found in rainwater more than 180 miles from the nearest application area.

There ya go North Shore Kauai. Add to that mess some Round-up, 2.4.D Herbacide… and who knows what else, to what degree, and how they interact.

Thus far Synergenta, Monsanto, Dow, Pioneer, Dupont have limitless and unregulated dominion, and the islands are ripe for their rape and pillage. They are still maneuvering to gain control of the water on Kauai – seeds and food first, water next = dependency for all. (Click here to read about the cozy situation between State Senator Donna Mercado Kim, Senator Malama Solomon, Monsanto Lobbyist Alan Takemoto, the Commission on Water Resource Management, etc.).

These crops aren’t a part of some sustainability for the islands, as most of them are test crops / foods that are exported from Kauai. In fact, GMO seed is now the most valuable crop in the state (exceeding flowers, aquaculture, coffee, veggies and taro combined!). No, it doesn’t benefit the state as much as one might think, as like any good corporation they finagle their way around paying taxes:

About half the land used for GMO production on Kauai are public lands upon which zero property tax is paid.  But they refuse to disclose to the public what they are growing or what they are spraying on these public lands.  These large transnational corporations transfer their end products to related subsidiaries, benefit from Enterprise Zone and other GET exemptions and consequently pay zero GET tax on the products they produce. –former State Senator, current County Councilmember Gary Hooser

And despite what they want people to believe, these chemical companies import many of their field labor and specialists.

Biotech companies are operating on prime agricultural land without producing an edible crop, in a state that currently imports 85 percent of its food. ‘These crops employ a small number of biotech specialists and a somewhat larger number of field workers who could just as easily be employed growing food that we can eat,” says Paul Achitoff, a lawyer with Earth Justice. –Honolulu Weekly, “Bos GMO”

Locals who do work for them have to have a sit-down with their soul and ask themselves if a business immersed in poisoning the environment and unleashing seeds modified with viruses, bacteria and chemicals in open field propagation is worth their own personal gain. The term sell-out has never been more apropos.

Thanks to Dustin Barca, Walter Ritte, Ohana O’ Kauai, GMO-Free Kauai, Babes Against Biotech and everyone involved. Click here for the schedule of the upcoming marches scheduled consecutive Saturdays of the month on Big Island, Maui and Moloka’i. A`ole GMOs!

Dogs Animals GMOs Kauai Poipu

Don’t mess with a chow chow, or her food. Dogs don’t needs GMOs either! GMOs Bite!

Check out Leslie Larsen’s video of the event:

* We tried to credit each photo but because it’s in slideshow mode the specific credits only show up in the Google searches – if you’d like your image removed simply let us know. Mahalo!

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Hawai’i offers up the best in overheard conversations. Some backdrop for today’s lil’ snippet: Summertime; a time when many of the locals camp at the beach all season long. And when locals camp, they do it right: showers, power, sometimes you’ll even find couches, fridges… the works. It’s like a home away from home. And it’s not just a couple people – the whole family (sisters, uncles, cousins, etc.) move in.

Today at a camp spot in Haena, I had the pleasure of overhearing a mom sprucing up, talking to the (extended) family about keeping their summer palace nice and clean:

What are da kine foot baths you put outside the door to soak your feet so you don’t get dirt in the house? We need one uh doze to keep the place clean. Ya ya ya were gonna hafta marry one Japanee I tink.


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Though we may, on occassion ;) get a little bit behind here at CoconutGirlWireless, we’re regularly updating our news tweets. Follow CoconutGirl on Twitter! We follow back all eco-conscious surfers!

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Laird Hamilton’s daddy Billy Hamilton surfing with his awesome grrl dog Sava! Enjoy. And thanks to Allan Thomas for the music – check him out!

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joe blair surfboard shaperIn the surfing world, specifically the surfboard manufacturing industry, there are a slew of icons who’ve maneuvered themselves front and center. Names of the players and their companies, similar to fashion designers, splayed across products, which often focus more on apparel and accessories. But there are others diligently working, seemingly behind the scenes, expending less of their energy on marketing and self-promotion and more of it on innovations in design and taking their craft to the next level.

Blair Surfboards logoOne of these innovators is Joe Blair, who has casually evolved from old skool days as the first haole Beach Boy in Waikiki to being a young whipper-snapper building boards in the late ’60s alongside such pioneers as Simon Anderson, Xanadu, and Dick Brewer to today becoming a shaping legend (listed in Big Wednesday / tow-in heroes the Willis Brothers“Surfboard Shapers Hall of Fame“) and a creative force in high performance epoxy designs and the exploding stand-up paddleboard industry. Luckily we were able to steal away a moment of his time to meet Joe Blair…..

A long while ago, possibly before you were born, Joe had already been wave riding and shaping surfboards. That was 40 years ago – but he’s not that old, he simply had an early start. Speaking with him you’d think he was a local boy, but Joe was born in Coco Beach, Florida. How’d he end up spending so much time in Hawai’i? We’ll let him explain…dick brewer surfboard logo

Joe: “I spent the summers in Waikiki when I was a sophomore and junior in high school. Then, after I got out of high school, I moved to Oahu and lived in town and worked for George Downing, which was a very lucky thing in my life because George Downing was known as the biggest best wave rider in the entire place. I fixed dings at first and then he let me become beach boy and I was one of the first haole beach boys there in ’68.”

One reason Joe was accepted by the locals is because he happened to live with George Watanabe and Richard Mazuta, two local boys who took him under their wing. During a time when being a little too white, walking behind the hotels at night, let’s say, could easily get a guy clobbered Hawai’i 5-0 style, Joe never had a problem. As a matter of fact, Joe fit right in. Well, he also had the advantage of understanding island style. Thanks to a dad who worked for Pan American Airlines, he was able to travel extensively and live in places like Puerto Rico and Barbados.

simon anderson logoJoe: “Even though I have blond hair and blue eyes… I never ever got in beefs … because on the islands, it’s kind of a vibe thing with people. And if you treat them like they’re your brother, you are their brother. But if you’re an arrogant fellow with attitude, and you go there with an arrogant attitude, then you get beat up the second day you’re there. I find that the Hawaiian Islands are a spiritual chain of islands but a lot of haoles that go there don’t really see that….plus, I speak pidgin real good lik’dat.”

You can sense the sentimentality in his voice, almost a yearning to be back to a place that had offered so much and shaped the course of his future. So, besides some serious drive (mix in a dash of good fortune and location, location, location), how does one go from beach boy to the exclusive realm of respectedsimon anderson board shaper?

<Simon Anderson>


“I have a great story on that,” Joe’s youth is showing as he explains. “What happened was I was going to have my boards built in Hawaii but it cost more. So I had a board made for me in Florida. Well, when I got to the islands the board worked so badly. When the waves were head high, it just spun out; it rode terrible. I knew exactly how to shape boards because I was a craftsman but you had to be somebody to shape a board back then. So what happened was, a guy broke his board in half and gave it to me so I went and [re]shaped this board, made it racier, and took it out on this really good day. There was this one spot where the waves were huge but there were Kona winds and it was terrible, so I went around the island to this other spot and it was five feet overhead, lined up for eighty yards, perfect barrels and my board worked killer. It worked so good and looked so good that people were ordering boards from me. Then a friend of mine who was dating my sister, his parents passed away so he inherited some money … so within three weeks, we had a factory going down there; taking beat-up old, broken boards and stripping them and then redoing the rocker and reshaping them and making up-to-date boards out of them … and that’s how it started. I knew how to shape and then he met Brewer -Brewer made him some boards- and BOOM, I started making tons of Brewer boards and I was Brewer’s main shaper for about twelve years.”Xanadu Surfboards

He didn’t stop there though, as his evolution in board making also included working with Simon Anderson who invented the thruster, and Xanadu, a Brazilian who set the trend for how surfboards look to this day.

Joe: “That was the final topping that I’d needed because [before then] we were into flat deck, boxy rail boards and he [Xanadu] was thinning the nose and tail and doming the deck and making small rails….”


With a combination of the best elements of the pioneers of the modern surfboard, Joe Blair steadily made his transition from protégé to master. One can only imagine the excitement at the time, when surfers were moving from slower boards with more limitations to something more dynamic.

Joe: “It was exciting because at that point there were only twin and single fins and the industry was very boring then. Everybody was riding the same stuff and we weren’t going anywhere whatsoever. And then when Simon Anderson came in [he] called it a thruster because the three fin gave you so much more punch outta your turns and your board didn’t spin out, because at Pipeline, a single fin’s kinda dangerous ’cause it won’t stay on the face of the wave. (Read more about the history of the three fin and thruster here.) And Simon’s board… 85% of the guys were better surfers than him. He was a big guy and rode backside, but he won a couple of contests in Australia and then won the Pipeline Masters, a very important event, and people still didn’t stand up and pay attention to it. Then [Gary McNabb] from California who did Nectar Surfboards rode one and realized the potential. Then all of a sudden… It’s unfortunate that Simon didn’t patent it because he could have made a fortune. But he really changed the surfing world with the three fin. (more…)

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pine trees kona hawaiiI thought the fight was already lost, but it seems it is still up for debate whether or not the county/ state should acquire O’oma II to protect it as public, open space. Considering how important the area around Pine Trees is -how precious the waters and how vital this surf / recreational / camping area is for families and to the community- it’s about time they listen to the people. Stop selling out! With so much building being done in an already overcrowded Kona (these projects adding even more traffic), with most of the precious coastal areas being taken over by rich landowners/corporations to do with as they please, the state better hurry up and protect what they can! And the O’oma acquisition should have been a top priority. (more…)

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Shark Launch

It’s kinda a thing with surfers, to recite our homogeneous oceanic factoids and universal truths, even though we’re often not precisely certain what we’re talking about. This seems to be the case in regards to sharks and particularly their olfactory sensibilities and its effect upon their desire to attack. And to be certain, there’s probably a whole bunch of erroneous commentary in the following many paragraphs, but hopefully, at the same time, we punch a few holes in the oft negative shark mythos.

How many times have we heard (or repeated), for example, “Sharks can smell a drop of blood a mile away.” Well, it’s not totally out of the ball park, just not exactly true. Sharks do have an amazing sense of smell: their paired nostrils, which have nothing to do with breathing, being a whopping 10,000 times stronger than humans. In conjunction with their skin (specifically an “organ” referred to as the lateral line, which detects movement and vibration and gives to odor more directional properties) most are able to detect odors up to 100 yards away; their highly evolved electrosensory-detecting ability may perceivably be able to pick up distress or things that often co-exist with blood at farther distances. Some species have the ability to pick up one molecule of blood in over one million molecules of water (about one drop of blood in 25 gallons of water), with up to two-thirds of their brain being made up of olfactory lobes. And in certain respects similar to dogs, they hunt swimming back and forth searching for trails of scent, then follow the strongest one.

surfer girl shark attack

Surfing on the Rag

But do they waste this amazing sense of smell on us? I mean, do sharks hunt and sniff out humans, especially if we have a yummy fresh bleeding reef cut? And, as every surfer girl has fearfully pondered, can they smell a woman on her period? Does it make her – or the guy surfing next to her – more vulnerable?

First, check the Mythbusters episode “Drop of Blood”: Where they are testing the myth of a shark’s preference for human blood over fish blood – BUSTED! According to their tests, Lemon sharks at least, are not interested in human blood.

As far as menstrual blood goes, in a piece onSurfline Women, which referenced the fact that most female surf pros go out in the water when they’re menstruating, they asked Ralph S. Collier from the Shark Research Committee what he thought about the matter:

There is no scientific data that confirms human blood to be an attractant to sharks. A number of years ago, friend and colleague H. David Baldrigde conducted a number of experiments using human body fluids to determine whether they were potentially provocative to sharks. One of the fluids tested was human blood. The results in these specific tests showed that human blood did not attract sharks. However, there are other fluids that are also associated with humans and female menstrual cycles. Without any positive determination sometimes ‘it is better to be safe than sorry.’ My personal suggestions have always been to avoid water contact during that time of the month when a woman is menstruating, even though there is no scientific evidence to support this suggestion.

Similar information is posted on the Florida Museum of Natural History’s “Ichythyology” web site.

Though I never found anything categorically conclusive – a shark’s reactions being not quite 100% predictable even under what seem predictable circumstances – there are a few more supporting references that offer up doubt to the common theory: since sharks can smell blood… stay away from chicks who are surfing while on the rag.

While a majority of studies focus on divers, it offers up similar conclusions:

It has been demonstrated that sharks are uninterested in menstrual fluids. This is not, as some dive physicians suggest, because the amount of fluid is small and discharged over a number of days. Sharks have an highly developed ability to detect chemicals dissolved in water…if even the tiniest quantity of mensus is released into the water during an hour’s dive, the incredible acuity of the shark olfactory system may well be able to detect it. While certain types of blood are well-known to be highly attractive to sharks, menstrual ‘blood’ is a complex fluid that is chemically very different from systemic blood. Menstrual fluid does include ‘old’ (hemolyzed) blood, but it has been shown experimentally that sharks are simply not interested in it. ["Shark Smart" by Richard Martin, shark fisheries biologist turned marine educator]

There is no evidence of increased shark interest in a menstruating female. The hemolytic blood associated with menses may instead act as a shark deterrent (Edmonds, et al., 1992, p. 65). ["Women in Scuba" by Jacalyn Robert of Texas Tech University]

Some suggest because it’s dead, “hemolytic” blood, sharks aren’t attracted. (Though they seem to be interested in fish blood/chum whether it’s “dead” or not).

There are a couple of studies, such as that by Johnsen, PB., and J.H. Teeter. 1985. Behavioral responses of bonnethead sharks (sphyrna tiburo) to controlled olfactory stimulation. Mar.Behav.Physiol., 11:283-91, which suggest that sharks may be repelled by “dead” (hemolytic) blood, but they used animal rather than human blood and only a single type of shark, and for these and other reasons cannot be considered as conclusive.

There is actually a myth about menstrual blood being studied as a shark deterrent (though most things I read discuss the use of shark carcasses…with hit-or-miss success as species, location, individuality, hunger, etc. all seem to be factors). Anyway, one random comment I found regarding the matter mentioned:

…the Royal Air Force did studies on this during the world wars. They tried to duplicate menstrual flow as their studies revealed it acted as a repellent. It’s a cleansing process – lots of mucus and other yucky stuff mixed in that the sharks don’t want to eat.

electrosenses sharksIt’s hard to imagine sharks are ever deterred by “yucky stuff.” As far as I can tell from their published information, the company Shark Defense (who studies semiochemical repellents, electrochemical repellents [OceanMagnetics], and gustation compounds – to protect humans, as well as sharks), has not yet explored the exciting world of menstrual blood. Guess the stem cell researchers have dibs on publicizing its usefulness at the moment – I’m getting my “C’Elle” ASAP.

Actually, after lots of searching I found one blog, Blood In Belize, that included contradictory information; that sharks are potentially attracted to menstrual blood… but in a different kind of feasting sort of way:

Dr. Sam Gruber, director of the Shark Institute at the University of Miami, offered a little more insight. While no formal studies exist on the attraction of sharks to human menstrual blood, he knows that women and female sharks have almost identical hormonal molecular structures. Seems that after hundreds of millions of years of evolution, Mother Nature knows you don’t fix something that works. So Dr. Gruber says, theoretically, a male shark is attracted to the same chemical smell in females in general; sharks or humans.

I do remember a male friend once confiding in me that I smelled sexy when I was bleeding. I thought guys would, instinctually, be more attracted to the female when she was ovulating. Then again, since they’re horny most of the time, and without cohesive studies to confirm or deny, I’m gonna assume male sharks are likely horny most of the time too. And the female odors they pick up surely do not have to come in the form of blood. As a matter of fact, from what I’ve heard, both male and female sharks hot for action – sharks who otherwise are surely heterosexual ;) – commonly engage in “homosexual” activities. And then there’s this copulation video that has hints of gang-bang activity (picture Jennifer Jason Leigh playing the part of the female)….

But what results could occur if, say, a male shark is attracted to a female human? You’ve heard weird stories about the overt sexuality of dolphins (and my personal experience of alleged sexual advances made by local sea turtles that have left me somewhat afflicted).

About 60 percent of shark attacks on surfers – the upper-radius bites – are typical of shark courtship rituals. [Star Bulletin]

Even normal human body secretions may be an attractant for sharks. Sharks usually bump or ram into a victim before taking a bite out of them. When ramming or bumping, victims will have lacerations and abrasions, which is sometimes considered an attack. Also, because bites on victims are similar to the courtship bites of males on females, even sex has been considered a motivation factor. [Understanding Sharks]

Well, for sharks, males are attracted to pheromones released by the woman that, dissolved in the ambient water, allow the males to hone in on the female that is ready to mate. Consequently, you will see in many species that the male follows the female for a while, getting more and more excited in the process. So they may be on the hunt, but it’s for satisfaction of another urge, and because they can smell us, they know we human females are not food – ergo no grab and release needed.Though if you watched the copulation video you saw an important component of shark courtship and copulation is biting so… maybe we’re back to square one.

Because of the fact that most of the reported shark attacks on people worldwide are on men, the author of “Blood in Belize” deduces, “Dr. Gruber doesn’t know why odds are stacked against men, but stats like these crystallize the message: Ladies, avoid men in the ocean, and count your lucky stars you’re a woman because you have more chance of winning the Florida lottery than you have being attacked by a shark. Period.” Well, there are more women enjoying a wider range of ocean activities these days, so those stats are slowly changing, but we get the point. And, since the research seems inconclusive, we can decide to decipher the message as we like, that – besides the potential sexually-orientated nibbles – it’s very possible our feminine juices keep us more safe!

The question is not whether sharks can smell human blood and bodily fluids, it’s obvious they can easily pick up the scent of such fluids when they are within the required range. The more important query seems to be if sharks more often attack when they can not pick up the scent. When there are no human fluids present to better help them discern – without the use of their mouths – that the object of interest is in fact not a potential meal.

Of course, there are other reasons a shark might stay away from females, on land as well as in the sea, as one chick aptly noted:

I think sharks fear p.m.s. over anything – nothing worse than cranky, bloated, junk food-craving women giving them the “finger”. They give them plenty of room. [Dot Wethington]

jabberjawWhy Surfers Get Bit

Firstly, sharks also have a strong sense of vision. But despite the shark’s acute vision, they don’t rely on it as much as other fish.

Most fish you see today have large eyes. But sharks are predators that do not particularly rely on vision. If you see a hammerhead shark searching for flatfish, it moves its head back and forth, almost as if it were using a metal detector. [Michael Coates, associate professor of organismal biology and anatomy University of Chicago]

And considering sharks hunt often at night, where visibility would be even more limited, the lateral line becomes essential to their ability to carouse.

According to new research from Boston University marine biologists, sharks can’t use their eyes and nose alone to locate prey; they also need their skin. Similar to how humans can sense air flow with the small hairs on the face. Odor plumes are complex, dynamic, three-dimensional structures used by many animal species to locate food, mates, and home sites. According to Jelle Atema Ph.D. (Professor of Biology at Boston University; Director – BU Marine Program), since most odor plumes disperse in patches, fish locate odor sources through a process referred to as “eddy chemotaxis,” or the tracking of odor and turbulence simultaneously.

We might see odor and turbulent eddies in the oily wake behind a boat. A moving animal, similarly, leaves behind a trail of turbulent eddies flavored by its body odor. [Atema]

These studies conducted at Boston University, which inhibited visual senses and lateral line senses showed that when visual senses were impaired search time was not significantly affected, while with a stunted lateral line the shark was much less discriminating about their target.

These results demonstrate for the first time that sharks require both olfactory and lateral line input for efficient and precise tracking of odor-flavored wakes and that visual input can improve food-finding when lateral line information is not available. [Atema]

shark cartoonDespite knowledge of the shark’s visual and tracking abilities, another oft-repeated misconception is that sharks attack surfers because it has mistaken the surfer for a seal, which is highly unlikely. Sharks have existed hundreds of millions of years on this planet, before the dinosaurs, and have a pretty good idea what a seal looks and smells like. As marine scientists have observed, sharks attack humans and seals in absolutely different ways. And if that’s the case, we could assume they would attack bodyboarders very differently from turtles.

“I spent five years in South Africa and observed over 1,000 predatory attacks on sea lions by great whites,” said R. Aidan Martin, director of ReefQuest Centre for Shark Research in Vancouver, Canada. A shark’s behavior while hunting a pinniped differs markedly from its demeanor as it approaches people – suggesting that the animal does not confuse surfers for seals.

Certainly it would seem logical that in instances, such as “murky” or what surfers call “sharky” waters, which might hinder a shark’s sight, it could cause random munching on whatever caught its attention or whatever was around during its feeding frenzy. If sharks are chasing something like a turtle and the turtle b-lines for the line-up, you might inadvertently find yourself between the two.

Sharks, unfortunately, just happen to use their mouths as hands, biting into all sorts of random things it comes across in the ocean, and then releasing them. And surfers are attracted to the same areas where sharks feed – the reefs – putting them consistently in the wrong place at the wrong time. The shark isn’t thinking a man in a wetsuit is a seal, specifically, but they might be curious as to what you are, and may bite into anything: a piece of metal, a kayak, a human, etc. to figure it out – on the off-chance with a dash of sea salt you might be tasty. Bite first, ask questions later.

Sharks are one of the best adapted vertebrates in the oceans and have a large number of highly developed senses…. Nature teaches us that organisms which developed in the same environment can recognize and classify each other properly…. Such development always takes place over thousands or even millions of years until at some point it becomes “instinct”…. In this way – even when the investigated object is not of marine origin – the shark may possibly react to a visual or acoustic impulse or an electrical field so that an object may resemble an organism he already knows… since he cannot completely analyze what he has seen, and since he cannot definitely exclude that it may be something edible, the shark may bite and test the edibility of the object with his taste buds…. Sharks do not bite by mistake! And a bite does not result because the shark, for example, has mistaken a diver for a seal…. [Shark Info: Research News and Background Information on the Protection, Ecology, Biology and Behavior of Sharks]

Murky water, often found at river mouths or sandy shore breaks, are the location of many surf spots and, along with other environmental factors support conditions reported in the majority of shark attacks on humans. We like deep water that hits reefs and sand bars. Salt-water surf fishing is based on fishing along the shore line where most species feed off of food that is stirred up as the waves break. As well, since these situations exist in areas in which there is river run-off and contains live food that often dies when it comes into contact with salt water, there’s a lot of feeding going on, from the little fish to the big. At the same time, this mixture of fresh and salt water includes a high concentration of organic and inorganic substances which adds to limiting visibility.

Most of the incidents in the Global Shark Attack File have nothing to do with predation. Some incidents are motivated by displacement or are a territorial behavior, or when the shark feels threatened; still others are the result of the shark responding to sensory predatory input (i.e., overwhelmed by the presence of many fishes) and environmental conditions (murky water) which may cause the animal to respond in a reflexive response to stimuli.

But besides murky waters and the tendency towards dawn and dusk surfing when sharks like to feed (gotta beat the crowds – though it seems odds are higher for the later), there are ways to help you catch the eye of a shark when their vision is limited, things that are often carelessly ignored: excessive splashing, wearing of the bling bling and bright colors.

shark follows yellow kayakYour brightly colored rash guard – or high contrast gear – can make you stand out. As a kid I recall watching a Jacques Cousteau-type TV show, where the marine biologists put a bloody piece of meat and a bright yellow object in the water – and each and every time the shark was more attracted to and attacked the yellow object (welcome back ’80s retro neon!). So it always made me a little more than curious as to why so many longboards, kayaks and surf gear utilized such attractive colors (though understandably some gear, including rescue rafts, need to be seen from distances). Even the plain white foam on the bottom of most short boards looks bright from beneath the sea and might attract interest. Why use these bright colors? Well, in some cases it’s purposefully used to deter sharks, such as those striped laminates by SharkCamo – for surfers and bodyboarders – designed to imitate a species that the shark in your neck of the woods positively does not want to eat.

When you read stories about shark attack victims, you will often read about some stand-out object – that they are wearing or utilizing – involved in the scenario. A common factor is people wearing their wedding bands or their surf watch with metal on it. Unless you are fishing while you are surfing, you really don’t want to look like a lure. And sure, perhaps the shark is not fooled, but what if you are invariably attracting other fish or creatures that the shark is actually interested in.

The diving site “Elasmodiver: Shark and Ray Pictures From Around the World” brings up some of these points, from the oft more educated perspective of one who dives with sharks:diving with sharks

• Tropical sharks are mainly fish eaters and as such are attracted to bright and shiny objects. Therefore it would seem logical that a neon yellow wetsuit would attract the attention of sharks looking for a meal. In shark diving circles neon yellow has actually been given the nickname of “yum yum yellow”…tone down your fashion statement and choose a more muted color or black.

• If you have bright metal objects…try to stash them out of sight in a pocket or replace them with darker-colored alternatives.

• Wear dark gloves. From a shark’s point of view there’s nothing more tempting than seeing two small lily white “fish” flapping around in front of them. Using your hands to swim with is asking for trouble. (And feet dangling off the board might logically be quite similar. -ed)

• Full suits are better than shorty wetsuits. This is the same principle as exposing your hands; try not to expose distinct areas of skin that a shark can focus on or mistake for a fish. Even if you have dark skin it’s a good idea to cover up. A lot of injury can occur from the brush of a shark’s sandpaper like skin. (Surely locals with their darker skin stand out less than the tourist haole! -ed)

• Fins tend to be prime targets for bites. This is more likely to do with their movements and exposed position rather than color but white, silver, or bright fins should be avoided. (So why are many bodyboard fins bright green, yellow, red, or black with bright colored tips? -ed)

• Avoid erratic movements. Sharks are able to pick up on disturbances in their environment. They are looking for the tell tale signature of a wounded fish or other animal. Once they find one they carry out their civic duty and remove the wounded creature from the gene pool. Thrashing around in the water may mimic the vibrations sent out by a wounded fish and/or may replicate the movements of a feeding shark.

• Sharks that come to a shark feed are not there to socialize. They want food and if you’re between them and dinner you’re in the wrong place at the wrong time. Keep your distance from any hanging bait that has been placed in the water and if the current is moving a chum slick away from the area make sure that you are positioned off to the side or up stream.

• Floating at the surface in the presence of sharks sends the wrong message. A body floating at the surface is high on the list of desirable objects for a shark to explore. In the ocean dead things float. If your head is above water you are effectively blind to the movements of any sharks underwater. A positively buoyant diver’s actions are far more limited. It takes time to become negative and descend out of trouble and swimming at the surface in dive gear looks an awful lot like a thrashing animal. (For divers, this is when unprovoked attacks on them most often occur. -ed)

Other Reasons Sharks Might Bite

There are other reasons sharks might attack. Of course, shark’s electromagnetic capabilities give them an uncanny knack to spot the bio-electric field of other creatures, interpreting agitation and fear. The scene in Jaws where the son of police chief Martin Brody was not attacked after he fell into the water because he was in shock and therefore barely moving – as doubtful as it might seem – could feasibly save a person (from getting bit in the first place, or after as you would lose less blood). But does a shark smell our fear?

Surfers can get as superstitious as fishermen (who oddly show equal fear of women and bananas on their boat). Most surfers try not to ever even think about sharks. When the waters are feeling sharky, it’s not only the conditions, but sometimes you can sense the vibration; like an electric current. The excited pulsations are similar to when dolphins are around, so fine-tuning lost sixth sensibilities is required. I always reconsider peeing during these moments (the pseudo-expert surfer rap contends peeing reminds a shark of scared prey). Well, I know pee stinks up your wetsuit (while keeping us momentarily warm) and that some say to pee in less concentrated squirts or not to pee at all. Question is, can sharks differentiate? If they’re not interested in menstrual blood, why would they attracted to human piss?

Shark text

[from the book "Shark: Stories of Life and Death from the World's Most Dangerous Waters" by Nathaniel May]

Yet the author of Diffusable Calamity describes a story he saw on National Geographic or the Discovery Channel, which does not offer any conclusive information but we’ll store it in the back of our minds:

There was this surfer who was so unfortunate to have been attacked by sharks twice. One time he was attacked, his brother was sure that he was gone. But they were surprised to see him swimming back to shore. He got no more than a few scratches but his poor surfboard could no longer be revived.

The next attack was even scarier. He was attacked by two Great Whites and the people who witnessed this were so sure that he would never survive that. But again, he rose from the waters and swam back to shore. Now the question is, why this guy? There were so many surfers out there but he was the one chosen by both Great Whites. It turns out that in both times that he was attacked, he urinated in the water. So now thanks to him it is known that urine can attract sharks. So no more peeing in the water. Damn!

Might it have simply been coincidence? (Are data shows 99.999% of surfer pee in the water! ;) Perhaps this guy give off the wrong vibe? And the fact is, we are surfing with a slew of fish that are pissin’ (and secreting urine) all around us. Add to that, in Hawai’i, the ever-presence of smells generated by the endangered-but-making-a-comeback sea turtle; a favorite on the shark menu, which maintains large numbers in surf zones. Actually, the pee of the beloved honu is one of the most rank of common ocean smells here (besides boat diesel/exhaust; sewage post rain; the occasional calf or feral pig that has gotten in the way of a tropical rainstorm flash-flood or has fallen off the cliff and washed upon the shore; and the more rare beached whale carcass). Compared to possible urine interest, these are all smells you may want to be much more weary of while in Hawaiian waters.bethany hamilton perfume

New Shark Tales

Q: Why do sharks swim only in saltwater?

A: Because pepper water would make them sneeze.

There are a few myths or surfer truths, I wouldn’t mind starting, using the fear of sharks for a higher purpose. To start off, to end the abuse of totally random smells that have no business invading the nostrils while enjoying nature in all her glory.

One which I have noticed a lot of lately is cologne – yuck! First off, I’m prejudiced, as besides pure essential oils, I think the majority of colognes and perfumes stink and, instead of being an attractant, gives me a bad headache. (Of course, I haven’t tried Bethany Hamilton’s new line of “Stoked” – which is supposed to “smell like the end of a good day surfing.” Its tropical blend of creamy coconut, jasmine, pineapple, freesia, musk and lotus blossom doesn’t sound too bad and…it’s Bethany!) But back to over-powering cologne, many girls –especially your au naturále surfer girls – aren’t too into it (hint hint). Even those chemical deodorants you guys wear are usually noxious and makes one yearn for some good, old fashioned girl surfing ipodmale pheromones (or at least deodorants in the unscented variety). But as sharks might want to check out anything that blinks on their radar, would perfumes be one of those things that might peak their interest? Or would they be similarly disgusted?

And maybe it’s not just the chum that fishing boats carelessly discard outside of surf breaks before they come in to dock. I know one of the most awful, powerful smells when you are surfing, is the one that happens on a clean, nice-sized, barreling day; usually when you didn’t eat breakfast. It suddenly whiffs out to sea: the aroma of grilled bacon, eggs, pancakes (from campsites on the shore; or those fresh baked muffins at the bed and breakfast on the cliff above one of our local surf spots — Maria, you’re killing me!). If we, with our not-as-sensitive noses, can smell the aroma, might sharks be curious too? (Yes, just kidding.)

ipod bikini

The new addition of waterproof housing for phones and ipods, which besides being morally unacceptable to the whole zen-ness of the surfing pathos, is that these electro-vibrations might likely intrigue a shark to explore its source. Guess we’ll find out – nice of the rich kids to test it out for us!

Hawai’i Mano Factoids

An old Hawaiian legend tells of a woman who freed herself from a shark by telling it that he was her aumakua. The shark let her go and said he would recognize her in the future by the tooth marks he left on her ankle. Since then, it is said, some Hawaiian people tattoo their ankles to let sharks know that their aumakua is a shark. [Hawai'i Sharks]

herb kane shark heiau kohala

For ancient Hawaiians, instead of fearing the shark and holding that fear in them when in the shark’s territory, many instead considered the shark their aumakua: a benevolent guardian spirit or family protector. Even if there was fear, for Hawaiians it was balanced with a deep respect, sometimes to the point of worship. Every island had a shark god and shark heiaus were built for feeding these creatures (via a few human sacrifices). It wasn’t that every shark was aumakua, but with some there was a direct connection, blood ties; a symbiotic relationship that is representative of the harmony of life.

Those who had the shark as their ‘aumakua wouldn’t hunt them or eat them, either. After all, it was believed that a departed ancestor took the form of a shark after death and appeared in dreams to living relatives. These Hawaiians would feed and pet a special shark whom they believed to be a relative. In turn, the shark would protect the family….

Kahu Charles Kauluwehi Maxwell Sr. will never forget the day he saw a free diver off Moloka’i tossing away every other fish he speared. “All of a sudden, this huge tiger (shark) came up and took the fish,” said Maxwell, a former police officer who is now a cultural practitioner on Maui. “I thought he was going to be attacked. Then I realized: He’s feeding his ‘aumakua. The man said, ‘Wherever I go, this mano (shark) help me. He follow me all over.'” [Honolulu Advertiser]

shark artThis mindset seems to offer the Hawaiians a greater perspective when it comes to understanding and respecting their environment – instead of falling into the typical American bad vs. good, where sharks usually represent the evil menace of the sea. That kind of attitude has offered allowances to those who are slowly endangering the shark population. Even I have often found myself thinking: one less shark, not so bad.

…for every human killed by a shark, our species slaughters more than 10 million sharks – about 100 million sharks last year. We are stripping the world’s oceans of one of its most valuable predators, animals that play a critical role in maintaining the health of the world’s oceans. An unreasonable fear of sharks has been implanted in our minds by the hype that surrounds the rare shark attack and by movies that exploit our primal fears. [Global Shark Attack]

Sharks are so essential to the health of our oceans their demise – by way of being hunted as well as being one of the numerous casualties of line fishing – will surely have more dramatic negative effects than a relatively small number of shark attacks a year. Though there is some debate as to the numbers, many marine scientists researching shark species have noticed a rapid decline in the population of many species. There are campaigns to end the eating of shark fin soup especially in Asia (shark finning is banned in the U.S., Brazil, Costa Rica, and Australia)…. Save the Fish, a conservancy group of anglers with an awareness of the importance for conscious fishing of our oceans, has a “Bring Back the Big Fish” program. Sea Shepard who are the most proactive in stopping the practice of long line fishing has stated:

hammerhead in fishing lines

Longlines are the most significant factor in the rapid diminishment of shark populations in the oceans. Longlines ranging from one mile in length to over one hundred miles in length are baited with fish (often illegally killing dolphins or seals) and are meant to target shark, swordfish, and tuna. The sharks targeted are caught mostly for their fins (which account for only 4% of their body weight) and also for their cartilage, liver oil, and teeth. The longline fishermen remove the fins and toss the still living shark back into the sea to die an agonizing death. Unable to swim, they slowly sink towards the bottom where other fish eat them alive. If longlines are not abolished, the oceans will lose most species of sharks within the next decade.

shark attack map

[map of recorded shark attacks globally]

There are 490 species of sharks – yet only 12 are a threat to humans. At present 20 are endangered, with many “near threatened” and “conservation dependent”…and the number is growing. So instead of regurgitating the tall-tales and being fearful every time we enter the water, maybe some knowledge could help instead of hurt. Most shark researchers contend their efforts toward garnering a better understanding of sharks is not only for their benefit, but to make people more aware of their environment and therefor less vulnerable – similar to people understanding other predatory animals in the wild.

True or False: Sharks cause more deaths in Hawaiian waters than any other animal.

False: More people drown picking ‘opihi than are killed by sharks, so the ‘opihi might be considered Hawaii’s most dangerous sea creature. (Of course, 60 people a year drown here – for a different perspective on the matter).

There’s so much concern (especially with the shark-like media frenzy coverage on attacks that do occur), that many states where people enjoy the oceans try to balance it with an educational site about sharks. Even in Hawai’i, the Aquatic Department has their Hawai’i State’s Shark site, which offered up information pertaining specifically to sharks in Hawaiian waters:

While any shark may be potentially dangerous, only a few species of Hawaiian sharks are known to attack people. They include the Tiger, Galapagos, Gray Reef and Scalloped Hammerhead. The latter two appear to attack only when provoked. • A Tiger shark is easily recognized by its blunt snout and the vertical bars on its sides. A Galapagos shark is harder to identify; however, any large (over six feet) gray shark with no conspicuous markings seen in inshore waters is probably a Galapagos. • Tigers are considered the most dangerous sharks in Hawaiian waters. (Great White Sharks – Carcharodon carcharias, which are also very dangerous, are rarely seen in Hawai’i.) Because of their size and feeding habits, they occupy the very top niche in inshore food chains. Tigers seem to come into inshore waters in Fall, and stay through Spring. They appear to move offshore somewhat in Summer, but this remains to be confirmed. Like other inshore species, Tigers seem to feed mostly during night and twilight hours. Tigers are often attracted to stream mouths after heavy rains, when upland fishes and other animals are swept out to sea. They can easily locate prey in such murky waters. Tigers are also attracted to waters frequented by fishing boats, which often trail fish remains and blood. Of all the inshore species, Tigers have the most widely varied diet. They eat fish, lobsters, birds, turtles, dead animals, even garbage. It’s not known how long Tigers can go without eating, but they seem to feed soon after a food source becomes present. • Shark attacks in Hawaiian waters are very rare, occurring on the average at a rate of about two or three per year. Surfers and spearfishers appear to be most at risk. Fatal attacks are extremely rare, especially considering the number of people in Hawai’i’s waters

hawaii incidents shark attacks

[map of documented Hawai'i attacks]

Incidents of shark encounters seem to occur on the outer islands more often than the Big Island. This year, for example, there were four attacks on Oahu, two in Maui and one in Kauai. As a matter of fact, there has been just six attacks in Big Island waters in the past many decades (three in one busy year in 1999) – mostly by smaller, likely young sharks close to shore. And only two documented but not confirmed Hawai’i Island fatalities in the past 100 years (one in Kona in 1987 – the body of the man swimming to a tied off boat was never found though his shark-bitten swim trucks were found on the ocean floor; and one of a net fisherman who supposedly fell into the waters near Honomu and was killed by a shark in 1907).

Hawai’i Island may have less surf spots/less surfers – but thousands of people enjoy the waters daily. One old-time local waterman gave me his explanation as to why, contending that the monk seal attracts sharks to the area, and once they’re here incidents happen. That we will soon see more run-ins on Hawai’i Island because recently this endangered species of seal – a favorite on the shark menu – was introduced to Big Island waters as a conservation measure to help expand the animal’s flailing numbers; but before this, the monk seal never really resided here. Soon we will be seeing more seals, he explains, and with them more sharks. Though I’d seen monk seals in Kohala on many occasions, after he told me this I noticed, for the first time in Hilo waters, a youngster playing near the surf break. (Many fisherman are concerned about monk seal relocation for other reasons.)

In Conclusion…

So back to the impetus, now that we’re on the road to being shark experts, this article isn’t about suggesting women should surf while bleeding, because there are other factors that go into that recommendation. While most of these researchers using the better-safe-than-sorry approach suggest wearing a tampon. Fact is, though I don’t, most surfer girls do, but it’s probably more about protecting their bikini bottoms, because the cotton of the tampon gets completely saturated with water, and at that point it may work as a cork but doesn’t absorb all the blood… or the scent.

Actually, as far as I’m concerned, the main issue with surfing while bleeding has nothing to do with sharks. Instead the concern is that you are internally exposed, especially if you are in waters that have bacteria, river run-off, pesticides, or potential toxins (as most seem to). And wearing a tampon might keep that corked inside you longer – yuck! (So if used, removed them immediately after exiting the water and rinse yourself out!) If you have an open wound, you might get staph, but we rarely consider what infections or diseases a woman might be exposing herself to during that time of the month (yeah, another story for another time).

There’s a likelyhood that sharks aren’t as interested in human smells as we have been led to believe (the crew at Mythbusters sure don’t believe it anymore). One could almost deduce that, in cases when sharks “attack” people to see if they are edible, the smell of human body fluids could potentially alert them of the fact that it is a bony, untasty human and not a fatty fish – possibly preventing the animal from needing to use its mouth to come up with the information. Who knows?

And after all these years of studying sharks no one has ever proven blood of the menstrual variety makes a woman more vulnerable.Though one would logically opt out on being part of any real life research project, it seems female surfers and divers are in actuality testing the waters every time they enter while bleeding. And with more and more women enjoying the oceans, it seems high time proper studies are done. In a way that protects them as well as us (from our fear and hatred of them). Perhaps we can invest in exploring all predatory sharks in all conditions, focusing on when a shark is most interested in humans – and their smells – and when they are not… and hey, why not start with menstrual blood!

This piece has some faint hope to spark momentum in public appeals for more marine research; to incorporate the more positive, symbiotic aspects of the Hawaiian’s relationship with the sea, and to the mano. To respect the king’s of the sea, as the top of the food chain and essential keeper of a balanced eco-system. There is a reason we keep going back to the ocean, to find our energy and purification, to look for answers.

For now, without discernible facts and conclusive data, I’m going to extend myself to coming up with my own hypothesis; and in the process, start a new surfer myth: that you might very well be more safe surfing near a menstruating wahine than you are in avoiding them! xo

Fun Big Fish Links

Shark Shield (Australian Co. electronic shark deterrent attaches to your surfboard) [here's a recent success story on the Shield from a Kona kayak fishin' family], Octopus Eats Shark, Swim at Your Own Risk, Moolelo, University of Florida, Ichthology Links, Shark Research Committee Links, American Elasmobranch Society, Shark Attack Survivors, Global Shark Attack File, Wiki’s Unprovoked U.S. Shark Attack, Tracking Tiger Sharks, So You Want to Be A Shark Biologist?, Shark Research Insitute,MythBusters: Are Sharks Afraid of Dolphins?, Dolphins Save Surfer.

P.S. In case you get bit by the way, you can tell your story to Surfer Magazine / join their “Nailed By Whitey club” and, withsurfer shark cartoon the help of Robert Wingnut Weaver and the many surf companies who graciously donate, they will help get you a new wet suit and surfboard… Hey brah, surfer-style, when can gotta keep it positive…

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noniIt is assumed that Noni (“Aspirin of the Ancients”) originated in Southeast Asia (Indonesia) and was brought, approximately 2000 years ago, by ancient peoples of French Polynesia to the islands of the South Pacific. Captain Cook recorded it’s use in Tahiti (Nono) in the 1700s, and later documents show its use in Fiji (Kura), Samoa, Roratonga, Australia (Cheesefruit), Guam (Lada), Caribbean Islands (Painkiller Tree), Africa (Bumbo), India (Indian Mulberry)…. Its hardy seeds have the ability to float which has also contributed to its distribution throughout seacoasts in the South Pacific region. In Hawai’i (Noni – Morinda citrifolia) it is a common medicine. Depending upon latitude, it grows 0-2600ft, though Hawai’ian noni seems to thrive in rainforest lava rock nearest to the ocean. But while some here utilize it for any ailment, and noni producers sometimes swipe up (too) much of the fresh fruit off public trees, there are still many who live here who don’t seem to take advantage of its availability. At the same time, across the mainland and around the world, people are spending upwards of $40 a bottle, as it’s being packaged for consumption, from health food stores to Costco, as yet another “miracle cure”…perhaps the only popular miracle cure that is concurrently being debated as “the foulest liquid ever tasted.”noni and bee mandala

It is pretty stank, though bees like it, and the smell grows on you, as you become recipient of its benefits. Yet, I can imagine if one is taking these noni tonics and not noticing immediate results, they might easily write it off as another supplement marketing rip-off. Personally, most of the “manufactured” noni I’ve tried didn’t seem to do much. But there’s always something that happens from the fresh fruit to the processed product, and surely quality varies depending upon each company’s methods and their ability to best capture the medicinal qualities. All I can tell ya is this, drinking the fresh juice or pureé or soaking in the fruit is a whole different story, and you can’t deny its effects, because you feel them immediately.

Noni is likely one of the most powerful natural medicines I have ever tried. Part of being able to experience it properly is having easy access to the plant, as it grows in abundance in many areas of Hawai’i. Secondly, that Hawai’i is a breeding ground for so many ailments in which the noni can have obvious beneficial results; things like staph and skin infections, diabetes, a slew of surf injuries :) ….

Some use noni in a casual manner, but to others it is a powerful plant that is not intended for daily use. Similar to people who take kava to sleep, for many kava involves a ceremony and spiritual relationship with the plant. There are traditional beliefs regarding plants considered “sacred” by native peoples who have utilized them for generations. For those attuned to or interested in the knowledge, that is a righteous endeavor, because we often look too simply at the gifts of the earth. But personally, I don’t believe those who have a limited comprehension of the spiritual aspects disavow themselves from attaining positive results (its use alone might inevitably bring about an understanding leading one on that journey of awareness).

Noni has various chemical constituents. First, it has an impressive array of terpene compounds, three of which—L. Asperuloside, aucubin, and glucose—have been identified by their actyl derivatives. Both caproic and caprylic acids have been isolated. Second, bushfruits, a category of which noni fruit is a member, are also considered a good source of vitamin C. Third, Hawaiin noni has been linked to the synthesis of xeronine in the body which has significant and widespread health implications. Last, the alkaloid content of the noni fruit is thought to be responsible for its therapeutic actions. Alkaloids exhibit a wide range of pharmacological and biological activities in the human body. They are nitrogen-containing organic compounds which can react with acids to form salts and which are the basis of many medicines.

noni fermentingThe traditional method (though there are many variations) seems to be picking yellow fruit (as opposed to the too young green), allowing the fruit to ferment by placing it in a bottle and letting it stew for a week, a month, some let it go for a year in the sun (though many agree at least two days is needed). The fruit is then squeezed/filtered. Since gases build up during the fermentation process, many do not use airtight lids but those with anoni process fermenting fermentation lock or some other homemade device. Most producers of noni agree glass is preferred over plastic as some plastics can leach into the finished product and affect its quality. Though it’ll smell rotten to anyone unfamiliar with the scent, there is a particular odor of good fermented noni and bad (kinda like making fine wine). If you’re going to get technical, you can test the juice’s PH with a cheap PH test strip kit; noni should read at 3.5 or less (anything higher may be contaminated or have undesirable organisms). Aged, fermented noni juice (dark in color) can be stored at room temperature indefinitely, while the fresh (light in color) needs to be refrigerated.

My favorite way to drink noni is fresh super ripe fruit (kinda fermenting in the skin) squeezed through a cheese cloth into a homemade lemon or limeade (two cups of purified water, add 2-3 heaping tablespoons raw sugar, heat ’til crystals dissolve, cool some, add 1 tablespoon of raw coconut syrup or crystals, stir, add ice to cool more, mix in juice of 2-3 lemons, add juice of one very ripe noni, add water to taste, stirring well – should make a small pitcher). And the effects, dependent on your condition beforehand: warmth through the veins, clear head, energy, vitality. Usually I find it preferable to drink on an empty stomach for the best results, like a morning elixir or when I’m crashing in the afternoon, and wait half hour before consuming food, coffee or medications, etc.noni processing

I imagine the more fermented the noni the more potent its effects, especially good for use for more chronic, debilitating medical conditions. While the lighter and more sweet fresh fruit can benefit as a daily elixir for those with general constitution building or specific short-term ailments, such as a cold, infections, tiredness, headache, etc. The list of claimed benefits of noni (via the leaf, the flower, the bark, the root, the fruit) seems to be never ending: laxative, inflammation of joints, astringent, emollient, emmenagogue, sedative, hypotension (lowers blood pressure), blood purifier, tonic, immune system modulator, pesticide poisoning, parasitic, delayed menstruation, arthritis, boils, aphrodisiac, eye inflamation (flowers), malaria (bark), E. Coli, Asthma, Diarrhea, Colic, Autism….

In addition, a compound found in the fruit called damnacanthol is believed to help inhibit certain viruses and cellular mutations involved in cancer. [Phase One of a cancer study has already taken place]… Recent surveys have suggested that noni fruit exerts antioxidant [and] antibiotic action. In fact, a variety of compounds which have antibacterial properties (such as aucubin) have been identified in the fruit. Constituents found in the fruit portion have exhibited antimicrobial action amino acids…. Because proteins and enzymes have so many varied roles within cell processes, the normalization of these proteins with noni supplementation could initiate a very wide variety of body responses and treat many disease conditions.

noni plantI have enjoyed playing with it, feeling it out, and utilizing the plant when it seems to call to me. Because of that, I’ve had a few unique experiences with noni. One that I never read about is that it is the ultimate sunburn cure. It sounds unappealing, to put a strong fruit on one’s skin after it’s been burned. Aloe is typically the more obvious plant to use in such instances, and it seems a more soothing solution. But one day, when on antibiotics, I got severely burned while surfing in the strong Kona sun. It was actually an antibiotic eye drop I was taking because I had had Lasik surgery, and they kinda drained into the sinus cavity leaving me more photosensitive. Of course, I wasn’t thinking eyedrops would get into my system enough to affect my ability to handle the sun, but I ended up with small blisters all over my upper back and chest; hundreds of them. Aloe wasn’t working; nothing was. Being that I only burn on rare occasion I didn’t know what to do, besides the aloe and drinking lots of water. By the second day I was so frustrated I was willing to try anything. I had some noni which I’d found on one of the few noni trees located in the lava rock/desert ecosystem of Kailua-Kona’s Pine Trees (before it was surely uprooted as the family-oriented surf spot was churning into yet another high-end golf course and fulfilling the important fifth home market for the rich and oblivious mainlanders). For some reason I decided to rub it all over the blistered area. Honestly, I don’t know what I was thinking, but within one hour it was as if the blisters got sucked into my body. They literally disappeared before my very eyes.

Of course, noni on its own can burn too. I learned that because I used to soak in the rotten fruit my aunty would bring me. I’d make a bed: plastic garbage bag with towel over it and then a sort of old person diaper/pee pad that you can find at Longs atop that and mush about 3-5 super ripe noni atop it and lie in it for hours and hours to help heal some broken bones, relax muscles, sooth sore hips. It was the only thing, besides hideous pain killers, that allowed me to exist, even walk around, pain-free. When you break a bone here, that’s the first thing your auntie will bring over; noni juice, noni fruit, noni leaves. And how does it work? Fug if I know, we’ll leave some things a mystery, but the fruit will create a heat that deeply penetrates the body and brings healing to the area. Anyway, my auntie usually uses a sarong on the skin and the noni above or wrapped within the sarong, covered with noni leaves, so the fruit isn’t actually touching the skin. Then she recommends lying in the sun, to allow the sun to add more heat and generate more potent affect of the noni. All I have to say is don’t use plastic wrap as I did one day out of convenience; it surely would have been fine for the intended hour, but I fell asleep with it on and ended up with some serious degree burn.

Since it’s so easy to end up with Staph here, as the moist climate seems to breed it in the body and on the land, it’s important to have solutions that don’t lead to antibiotic use. One reef cut and a slightly off PH/sugary environment and you’ll easily find the infection spreading. You have to stay on top of it here, as many who’ve let it go untreated realized the hard way: in the hospital getting chunks of their body cut out. The most simple and immediate cure? Wash boo-boo with hot water, grab a piece of the fresh ripe noni fruit and simply place a chunk on the cut. If you smooth it in place it will actually stay there and create a seal and if it does fall off just apply again. This will help the cut disinfect and protect it as well. Then you take a more concentrate shot of noni juice at least once a day for up to two weeks.

The leaves are usually used for swelling, inflammation, arthritis, cuts, bruises rashes and boils. Heat/steam the leaves to soften them up for use, then place the side of the leaf that faces the sun on the body. You can place young leaves directly on the body as they are softer and have a more sticky quality. Some even throw leaves in a warm bath to release the healing oils.

As far as usage, everyone is different. But like any strong medicine, which has an effect of cleansing/detoxing one’s body, you should take a break between dosages. It’s strong, and overuse can be draining, and deplete organs instead of building them. Of course, it’s always best to confer with a physician and adequately trained herbalist or Hawaiian healer.noni fruit leather

So if you’re not in Hawai’i but you want to try noni, there are many companies out there that want to supply it to you. Yet, because of all the variables, I can not recommend any – you need to search out your own and see what works best for you. Though I’ve tried a few, from juice to tinctures, none have had any of same effects as my own processing of the fresh fruit off the tree. Though out of those I did try, strangely enough, it wasn’t the juice but the noni fruit leather that seemed the most potent. And if you’re a Hawai’i Island local and don’t have time to pick and prepare your own, Abundant Life makes their own Noni Puree which is nice. Otherwise, all I can say is this: look for non-pasteurized unadulterated juice packaged preferably noni bookin dark glass bottles. And call and ask to talk with the owner; usually you’ll get a vibe of where they’re coming from. If they’re too big to talk or email with individual customers, maybe they’re too big to pay much attention to quality. Hopefully you’ll get a chance to experience the beneficial effects of quality noni and decide for yourself whether it’s a stinky “miracle cure” or not.

* * * * *

Sites to check out:

The Noni Website/University of Hawai’i

Truth Be Known: Noni

Noni: Prize Herb of Hawai’i and the South Pacific


Noni by Diana Fairechild (a stewardess with pesticide poisoning and her journey of healing through noni)


Noni Shows Cancer Promise

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GIDGETYou know, before Gidget came out in the late ’50s, there were supposedly only 5,000 surfers in the world. With that and the beach blanket bingo era to follow, by 1962 it’s been estimated a whopping 100,000 took to the waves. Today how many might there be? Millions?

My first bit of interest in surfing came in the form of a Flipside Magazine (hi Al, miss you) borrowed from some high-school surf punks as well as paddling out being my only other option besides waiting for hours on the beach gossiping with my girlfriends while our boyfriends surfed (yuck!). Yet, I will never deny the inner girly-tomboy inspiration acquired from the Gidget character, especially Sally Field’s TV version. Heck, the first spot I ever surfed (or got tossed around by waves at) as a teenie-bopper was Malibu and every once in a while I’ll disturb myself by unconsciously verbalizing words like “Toodles.”

But do we really need another major motion picture about the subject? After Blue Crush, can the water get any more crowded? (hmm, interesting to note, some of the most popular surf movies in history are about women – whassup with that?) How many more over-commercialized surf flicks does the universe need created by non-surfers in Hollywood trying to cash in?surf’s up

“Okay. I get it. This is where you tell me that “locals rule”, and that Yuppie insects like me shouldn’t be surfing the break, right?”

Capitalizing on the public’s love of computer animation and cute animals (Lilo & Stitch, Happy Feet, March of the Penguins) and promoted happily by certainly well-paid surf industry powerhouses (Kelly Slater and Rob Machado who provided lead voices), the consumer public is supposed to embrace Surf’s Up! as the movie to take the kids to this summer. But this animated feature that “goes behind the scenes of the high-octane world of competitive penguin surfing” and is based on the concept that (move over dolphins) “penguins invented surfing”… is not the new surf movie I’m talking about.

“You’re sayin’ the FBI’s gonna pay me to learn to surf?”

point break two

Point Break screenwriter Peter Iliff has found the only way to get a director’s credit is to write a script with his directing job tagged onto the contract. To the casual dismay of Point Break fanatics, this means a Point Break 2. In this 20-years-later scenario we will see (so far as it’s been reported) Bodhi indeed not dead, and has been instead playing bad boy and surfing, no doubt, hurricanes in the Asian Pacific (can’t you just picture him doing tow-ins with Laird). Patrick Swayze, with star power draining accordingly over time, doesn’t have a lot of other projects lined-up and is tentatively committed to this one. But there will be no “Johnny Utah” (and no James Cameron producing) – the flick will be funded and filmed in Asia and star a largely Asian cast. And the new lead character is supposed to be a ex-pro surfer turned Navy Seal tracking down a “criminal gang” and star a new Keanu. As reported in Variety:

It is really important that this film stands on its own two feet and we will be looking for a young male action star at the same stage in his career as Keanu (Reeves) was….

“Young, dumb and full of cum”

While you’re waiting for Point Break 2 to come out, you might be able to experience the ultimate ride “Point Break Live!” (a play based on the movie which I believe originated in Seattle many years ago, but has been showing as recently as a few weeks ago in New York). A new Keanu is picked every time, and the message on their MySpace better explains the qualities one must possess to play such a role like the dynamic Reeves:

To represent Keanu Reeves, an actor must be untrained and unrehearsed. He must be pushed from place to place by production assistants. He must read his lines (not seen until the play’s in progress) from cue cards. Only thus can that irresistible Reeves vacancy be emulated.

kalani robbOh, my. Well, in my personal opinion, if they’re going to make this work, I think they should hire retired pro goofy-footer Kalani Robb, as he’s always seemed to me a cuter Keanu. Plus he won’t need to be trained how to surf, has an Asian-Hawaiian look (like Keanu), and the absolute worse case scenario can act as well as Keanu… and I love him. Oh Rob, remember that day you were jogging down the beach with your dog..and I had my dog… and you barely paid any attention to me… sigh… and then that time, out in the water, at Pupukea, you were so mellow letting me catch as many waves as I wanted..even though you probably didn’t even notice I was there… what, oh, you did notice me…you wanna go grab some sushi…well, sure… mmm…. Oh, sorry, daydreaming again…. Rob even has a filmography and likely an Actor’s Guild card and, ah, shoots, he’s staring in a surf/horror movie coming out this year called Pipeline (“the water is filled with limbs…”). Well, out of all the surf movies coming soon to a theater near me, that’s one I’ll go see.

“Fear causes hesitation, and hesitation will cause your worst fears to come true.”

Now the question is, will Point Break fans flock to the potentially B-grade flick in hopes the writing might include genius one-liners like the ones weaved throughout the original. Or should we avoid the movie and preserve our imagination. That we don’t know if Bodhi died or somehow survived the huge waves at “Bell’s Beach” – and is possibly out there, somewhere, bullying for truth and the human spirit and manifesting the adequate funding required to live the ultimate surfer lifestyle (of course, today one would have to rob a lot more banks to stay afloat as a beach bum with a healthy quiver). Though there is little controversy about the matter, maybe people are just afraid to admit to their caring either way about the film’s legacy. One reviewer did go on the record, “Sounds like an all-around bad idea to me.” Yeah, “Part Two”‘s have the power to be such a bummer, dude.

“If you want the ultimate rush, you gotta be willing to pay the ultimate price….”

As far as more surf movies go, we can only hope for the best. Often the pure essence is only found in the well-produced small, independent variety, made by people who live to surf, and surf to live. Do all surf movies have the potential to increase the number of surfers in the water? Sure, very likely. Then again, we can all be greedy over the waves. But when you see the look on the face of a kid who just rode a wave for the first time in his or her life, you don’t mind so much. We know aloha is part of sharing it with the rest of the world. And perhaps the future core of conservation and environmental consciousness will be inspired by the fresh generation of groms who connect with the ocean and have a deep desire to keep it healthy (maybe throw in a few engineers to make some successfully breaking artificial reefs to satisfy the growing surfer communities – and encourage growing sea life). So, ultimately, I don’t mind the flux of surf movies – but if filmmakers are throwing so much money at it my only request is that they please make some that are really good too.

“Surfing’s the source man… it’ll change your life, swear to God.”

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wahine hairThere is one thing every girl who surfs has in common. I mean, besides all the requisite health and physical benefits – one of the downsides is, we all have hair problems. Just think of putting a fine strand of silk in salt water and then letting it bake in the sun, then wetting it again, then letting it dry…then repeat this for hours, sometimes weeks in a row (ah, if we’re lucky). And not to say we don’t have great hygiene, I mean, we’re soaking clean (depending on the water quality of course) for a good few hours a day. But maybe we don’t get all the salt water out, and it stays in our hair ’til we wash it that night…or we surf again and once we’ve rinsed off again we have maxed out on water for the day so we avoid the house shower and instead put our last bit of energy into getting a barbecue going…and then we don’t wash it in the morning ’cause…we gotta go surf! This uncontrollable behavior just adds to the problem. After collecting tips from hairdressers and other surfin’ wahines, I have compiled a list of the best-kept secret hair tips for the girl in the curlwomen surf classic

1) Wet your hair before you go out into the water. (This tip was gifted to us by Gwen at Paul Marie Salon in Hilo – check ‘em out, they give good head…of hair…) Hair, when dry, acts like a sponge, absorbing water into it. Having it absorb regular water first will prevent it from absorbing the salt. And you may question the ability of hair to absorb large amounts of anything. But any long-haired girl who surfs can attest to the weight that is added to her head as her neck is being annoyingly tugged back. Just to emphasize its absorbency, NASA studies have indicated that hair may be a very useful tool in cleaning up oil spills. Future fem scientist Marguerite Blignaut, at the Kentucky Junior Academy of Science, followed it up with her own study and concluded: “Hair absorbs the oil which means the oil collects under the surfaces of the hair fibers. I used human hair in mesh bags and floated them on 10w40 oil-water mixtures. After two days I removed the bags and let them dry. An increase of mass indicated the amount of oil absorbed. I found that human hair does remove oil from the water surface and that straight dark brown hair seemed to be the most efficient.” Thanks Marge, good to know. Does this mean they’re using hair to clean up Exxon disasters? Doubtful. It more likely explains why it’s so hard to get the oil off of the poor birds. And it becomes clear that, whatever your hair absorbs while it’s out in the ocean, likes to hang out in the fibers.

2) Put conditioner in your hair too. I know, this seems silly, since it would surely rinse out in the waves, right? Well, there are a few factors involved. It nicely coats your hair and keeps it protected from absorbing other things. Some conditioners even have UV blockers. You put sunscreen on your face and sure, in the end much of it comes off (sorry sea turtles) but it keeps you protected while it lasts. With my thick hair, it holds it in, and I usually notice it’s still in my hair when I’m rinsing off at the shower. My not-natural favorite to use for this is Bumble and Bumble’s Deep Conditioner; more natural is Burt’s Bee’s Avo Deep Conditioner and almost all-natural-fave is the Phyto line (for leave-in use Phytodefrisant!). My hair prefers when I mix it up a bit, despite scientific claims to the contrary. Oh well, according to their “calculations” those scientists still don’t believe women “bloat” before their period. I’ll also vary my hair-coating tactics on occasion with things like jojoba oil (this is actually a wax so it’s more safe in that regard), argan oilkukui nut oil, and balms with a combo of oils and nut butters. These are best for the thick/frizzy-haired types. :)

3) Braid your hair. Many surfer girls opt to keep it short and carefree, but if this is not you, and if your hair is long enough, braid it! This will protect the more exposed and fly-away parts of the hair from getting too much sun and drying out. Tighter braids will seemingly keep it from absorbing so much water and also hold that conditioner in. And hey, maybe even keep it out of your face while going for that huge airdrop take-off.

4) Diet and stress affect your hair – no lie! Veggies are essential but vegetarians/vegans should make sure to supplement with some hemp or rice protein! BioSil by Jarrow Formulas is biologically active silicon that is essential for bone maintenance, joint function, and collagen production; meaning it’s great for your skin and hair too! Flax seed oil keeps it flaxen. Vitamin B’s and B-12 sublingually (or if you’re in Hawaii eating a banana or Australia eating your vegemite!) is highly advised for everything from stress to breakdown of carbs to glucose and fats and proteins for the nervous system and even hair quality. I also like the Emer’gen-C packs with the Bs and C when taken pre-surf. Bonus is they seem to offer added protection (at least keeps my throat from getting sore and belly from churning) when surfin’ after a rain or near river mouth bacteria or at a spot where they like to spray herbicides/pesticides all around the beach park. Yum! Chemical exposure, medications, alcohol consumption, smoking, caffeine, and lack of sleep also affect your hair. Basic theory: do whatever keeps you healthy, happy, strong. Lucky most of us surfer chicks do just that!

5) Don’t over-shampoo. Many water girls use conditioner as their “shampoo” – myself included. But you should shampoo once a weak to clean build-up and start anew. Try to avoid the overly harsh ‘n’ toxic WalMart-kine hair care (Pantene, Suave, Clairol…etc.). The other thing is investing in a few great conditioners and varying them. Once a week, do the heavy-duty therapy. The best deep conditioner I’ve found recently is Organic Root Stimulator’s Olive Oil Replenishing Pak. One $2 packet lasts four deep treatments. Or you can try free samples from Namasté Laboratories: $1 shipping and handling fee for every two you select http://www.organicrootstimulator.com.

6) Don’t brush your hair while it’s wet. I remember going to the Museum of Science and Industry in Los Angeles a few years back. The trip ended up forcing our photographer Don Lewis into a hilarious misadventure to Judge Whapner’s People’s Court due to a photo he took of a kid there and us publishing it in our magazine – but that’s another story; he won. Anyway I was awestruck by these huge displays showing before and after microscopic images of the human hair brushed when wet vs. brushed when dry. Suffice to say…don’t brush your hair while it’s wet. Coconut Girl Wireless contributor and my very big-haired surfing cohort Ms. ReefRash sez she won’t be able to get the knots out otherwise. Copy that! If that’s the case with you, use a quality thick-toothed comb or pick, put a little leave-in conditioner first and try to let it dry a little before workin’ on it. Then do so gently and hold the hair so it doesn’t stretch and snap

7) Wear a hat! Protect the hair while protecting the face. Reefrash wears a hat when surfing because she is about as white as a haole girl can get (nah, they can get a little mo’ white). But she knows how to pull off the look (and not everyone can) because…she has no choice. Please beware; she’s working on a full-on mask to cover her face. So if you see her out there…paddle fast and hard and don’t look back!

8) I have no idea what else. I do know that Hawaiian women were traditionally famous for their lovely long brown hair. Was it the coconut water/oil treatments they did after swims? Was it their rich diet that included poi, banana, papaya, lilikoi, coconut, sweet potato, breadfruit, laulau, fish and seafood? Maybe drawing from a gene pool (including those of the Asian races that have mixed here) that is renowned for their beautiful skin and luscious hair doesn’t hurt. Worthwhile thoughts on the matter or product tips are always welcomed! Have a great hair day!

Hey, by the way, this is very important – disclaimer!: No health or medical or dietary supplement advice should ever be considered without the approval of your omnipotent physician. Make sure on your next visit you ask what hair care products he/she uses! All seemingly knowing advice that appears within this article are simply humble opinions to be taken with a grain of salt. Yes, same grain of salt we are protecting your hair from…. meowxo

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