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Archive for the ‘SURF LINKS’ Category

My local community has an amazing monthly board swap but if you aren’t so lucky and Craigslist isn’t cutting it, SurfingList may be for you. Here we have a quick chat with surfer and SurfingList creator Brett Hollman….

How did SurfingList get started?

I started SurfingList about six years ago with the idea that there were better communities than Craigslist for surfers that could provide more relevant local sites with items such as wetsuits, surfboards, surf reports, forums for surfers, beach condos for rent in the local surf community, and so on.

What are the advantages of using it over Craigslist?

SurfingList incorporates items for sale with other local items such as the surf forecast, surf report, forums, surf travel information, and places to upload photos rather than the much larger and diverse community Craigslist has created. SurfingList is a niche community where Craigslist is a community for all.

How many states / countries does Surfing List support? What are the goals?

SurfingList has 27 local sites right now and will continue to expand as we add more US and international destinations.

Do you find because airline fees are now so high (or there are so many restrictions) that more people are looking for sites that help them find boards once they arrive at their destination?

Hollman gettin’ some luv at Playa Grande, Costa Rica

Actually, that is a very good point and I would recommend people use the site for that reason as well. I have bought and sold a used board when traveling and SurfingList is the perfect location for a surfer to do just that.

What are some of your favorite surfing locales?

Well, I live in the San Diego area and love many North County areas such as Cardiff Reef, Swamis, and various breaks in Leucadia. As far as travel, I am a huge fan of Maui where I once lived and just got back from El Salvador which was an amazing surf trip with perfect right hand points.

Have you gotten any cool surfer celeb feedback?

Unfortunately not, but I do live down the street from Rob Machado, so you never know.

Check out SurfingList at SurfingList.com

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tsunami surge hawaii island

Every so often, when a tsunami warning or incident occurs, talk ensues about the history and potential calamities of the next tsunami to hit the Hawai’i Islands. One of the quandries debated among the surfing community is what one should do if a tsunami takes place while out in the water (only people who do not surf -and usually into superhero fantasies- imagine the “wave” as potentially “surfable”). While the impetus generating these natural disasters often occurs at a great enough distance to where there is a few hours warning time (and at least here sirens around the islands would give proper notice), some tsunami that are generated locally could hit within a matter of minutes, leaving little time to react.

While working on an article for another “publication”, I decided to slide the question in to Dr. Stuart Weinstein, Asst. Director at the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center located on Oahu:

If a surfer is out in the water and the tide starts sucking out, should they paddle out to sea, or inland and hope to make it to high ground in time?

Dr. Stuart’s reply: “I don’t know if there is an expert answer to this, and the question hasn’t been put to me before. For a destructive tsunami that produces a strong draw-down, you might well exhaust yourself paddling against the draw-down to get back to “dry” land. Even if you were successful in getting out of the water, you would then have to traverse the newly expose muddy sea-floor as quickly as possible. You have maybe 20 minutes to complete this, sometimes more, sometimes less. The alternative, going out to sea, isn’t more attractive in my opinion. If you don’t get out to sea far enough, the tsunami that comes following the draw down will simply carry you with it; in this case your chances are not very good either. If you’re fairly close to the coast when the draw-down starts your best bet is to head to shore. Other than that, it seems there are no good options here.”

Well, I always imagined paddling towards deep water was the best bet (besides incited chompin’ sharks occasionally invading the imagery). At least it seemed the more romantic option — perhaps influenced by my fave tsunami story, of the school teacher from Laupahoehoe who got carried out to sea by that 1960 tsunami and was rescued via boat by her future husband… but there you go.

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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….”

<Xanadu>

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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Pohoiki Boat Ramp Swimmers

Puna had seemingly been losing the battle in terms of infrastructure and development needed to keep up with the population explosion of the past few years. While there’s been lots of debating, proposals, plans… actually action, when it occurs, is typically slow and inadequate. So it came as a surprise to many when the 5th District was allotted millions in federal grants and other funds for the new Poho’iki/Isaac Hale Memorial Beach Park. Sure, it’s been almost 10 years from conception to adoption to…near completion, but Puna residents have learned to be patient. (more…)

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Q: Can someone please recommend a good sunblock I can use while I surf that is waterproof and DOESN’T cause breakouts?
A: I use AcneEyeStingSlipperyHands, SPF WashStraightOff, but I’m thinking about changing.

Mexican SunscreenAfter scanning the numerous “comments” sections of varying websites where everyone is asking everyone else what the heck is the best sunscreen out there, the above (actual quote I found) may be one of the more humorous yet right-on answers you get. Because we all know, no matter how good a sunscreen is, you still burn, still have to reapply, still ponder the ingredients, still aren’t sure if what you’re rubbing all over your skin isn’t worse than getting a little bit of sun.

There has been much debate over whether or not the studies that claim there has been an increase in skin cancers since the heavy marketing of sunscreens over the past few decades is a) because the ingredients can cause cancer, or b) because people are staying in the sun longer because they wrongly assume they are protected. And if we are going to waste our money on and time applying all these products, we’d like to think that what we are using actually works!

There are many people out there who love buying product (okay, I don’t as I’m still meandering in a financially… um… transitional phase, but many functional members of society do). And most savvy consumers are forever looking for the next best miracle cure; products to make everything smooth, smelly, shiny, supple, shapely, soft, sexy… (no idea why all these words started with an “S” but had to run with it). Anyway, when it comes to Sunscreens, you can look, shop, research ’til you’re… red in the face… and still never find the perfect skin protection that’s just right for you. Now as a surfer girl with a surfer-kine website (and every surfer needs some protection), we gotta eventually touch on the topic – especially my skewed view.

This three-part piece includes Part One: Skin Care – The Best Natural Sunscreen; Part Two: The Difficult Task of Recommending a Sunscreen; and Part Three: Why Your Sunscreen May Not Work. I believe part one is the most important of the three, so let’s get started.

ADVICE FOR ALL SEASONS

Though this might seem oddly timed as we head into winter, it’s always summer in Hawai’i… and fact is, this is when an even more pale breed of tourist, who likely lives in an area that has four distinct seasons, are enjoying their winter vacations either to the slopes or to areas, like Hawai’i, that are close to the equator (meaning they are in prime condition to burn). And since UV rays can get you anywhere, any time of the year, much of these tips can be utilized in one’s day-to-day lifestyle. We’ll start off real basic…

THE GOOD, THE BAD, THE SOAP

“The skin is the largest organ of our body, therefore it makes sense to feed it with nature’s pure ingredients and not bombard it with chemical preservatives, additives, and artificial ingredients.”

Dr. Bronners Real SoapI copy and pasted that from somewhere – sounds logical. But considering the relatively simple concept, it amazes me what people put on their skin, especially harsh/ perfumey soaps, detergents, creams…. So before we start gobbing on the goop, let’s see where we stand with care of the skin first, as I believe that has much to do with the positive and negative effects sun and sunscreens have on it.

I remember as a kid, mom always bought Dove or Neutrogena brand soap, Phisoderm for the face and Lubriderm skin lotion – all those big brands marketed as being most gentle and of course “doctor recommended” – and how I would spend every night before going to bed itching (well, throw in super-chlorinated water, Tide-kine laundry detergent and fragrant Bounce sheets and you got a nice chemical overload for anyone with dry, sensitive skin. It’s all hard to avoid as the past few generations have been brainwashed via advertising by the chemical corporates that these products are necessary and good for us.). The discovery and availability of eco/healthy alternatives changed the quality of my life to be certain. But a major moment was actually when my friend told me how he never uses soap on his body; I was at first disgusted, then tried it and rarely itched again!

It’s not that I never use soap, but often opt for dry brushing before showering and – girl-kine fun – blend up a few natural body scrubs with varying ingredients like natural oils, shea/mango/cocoa butter, papaya seeds or ground coffee, essential oils… and whatnot). Many natural soaps use pure oils including olive, hemp and coconut as its base; Dr. Bronner‘s included, though the hippies that use it, especially the ones here in Puna, give it a bad rap, leading many to assume it doesn’t work (thought that’s likely because many of these particular “hippies” bathe less often and don’t quite grasp the concept of washing their clothes after each use).

But as far as soaps go, Dr. Bronner’s doesn’t seem to bother my skin. And you can check their web site to get more info on why, especially their amusing video Soap, Drugs, and Rock and Roll, which features the misadventures of one of my fave Ben Is Dead Magazine staff writers and Germs drummer Don Bolles. Don (who never particularly shied away from drug use) was pulled over and arrested for a bottle of Dr. Bronner’s found in his car, which tested positive for the “date rape drug” GHB. (The idea of why someone wouldn’t want GHB in one’s soap was never explained — but it is kinda ironic his punk rock band was called the Germs and he was arrested for having soap) Anyway, in this video, David Bronner, president of the company and Dr. Bronner’s grandson, goes off on how the Police NarcoPouch drug test kit can be used to prove “real soaps” like Bronner’s, Tom’s of Maine, and Pangea come up testing positive, while “detergent soaps” like Dial, Soft Soap, Nature’s Gate “Organics” (all chemical, nothing organic), EO, Kiss My Face, even Jason Organics (“Pure, Natural, Organics” is not pure, natural or organic) have not a molecule of real soap but are actually synthetic petroleum-based detergents - hmmm.

natural soaps 2“Our testing shows that real soaps which are made using the ecological time-honored process of saponification of vegetable oil will always test positive for GHB, while complicated synthetic detergent-based so-called ‘liquid soaps’ test negative,” said David Bronner, with the necessary sense of humor not only regarding the faux-organic labeling being done by questionable companies, but of the police and their psuedo-science which could have easily convicted an innocent person and that despite this fact the Police Department stated they have no intention of changing their testing procedure.

There are some non-soap cleansers that I use and like and are made from all-natural ingredients; it’s just you have to read the labels carefully, because as we see, even buying them from our health food store doesn’tirish spring guarantee they’re “natural” (yes, there are conflicting ideas on the term “natural” as the lack of FDA regulations and people abusing the term, but click link above for logical understanding of terminology).

Besides the weird perfumes used (often even in supposedly “unscented” varieties – re: new Dove formulation), it may be that these chemical “soaps” are giving real “soap” a bad rap. See, detergent-based soaps strip the lipids from the skin. When Hawaiian Bath and Body -located on the North Shore of Oahu in the cute former Waialua Sugar Mill- was asked “What makes your soaps different than those you find in the grocery stores? They answered,

The majority of “soaps” that you find in your local grocery store are actually detergents. Detergents are a group of man-made chemicals that were created for industrial cleaning. Imagine using something that is used to de-grease your dishes or remove stains from your laundry on your skin! Most people use these detergents on their skin everyday without realizing how damaging and harsh this product is for their skin. … Your skin is thrown out of balance every time you use a detergent. Because your skin is out of balance, it frantically tries to replace the sebum that has been stripped away and it also struggles with dehydration because the missing sebum plays a large part in helping your skin retain moisture. The most common problems associated with using detergent-based soaps are overly dry, flaky skin, rashes, itching; or sometimes the skin becomes so imbalanced it can produce too much oil trying to re-balance itself!’

There are also other reasons why most soaps suck. In a piece entitled Chemistry 101: Big Giant Soap Myths Exposed the author give some explanation as to why companies give us bunk soaps and the effects caused by our use of them:

The big retail brands rarely contain soap, and the ones that do usually suck out the naturally occurring glycerine to sell as a by-product to other industries because they can make more money than by just leaving it in, where it draws moisture from the air into your skin. Instead, they use chemicals, foaming agents and petrochemicals, which are the leftovers from the manufacture of gasoline and motor oil…. This is also why the big brands are so cheap…. Look for natural oils because they absorb readily into the skin, unlike petrochemicals which just sit on top of the skin, and leave it either greasy-feeling or dried out. Because they just sit on top of the skin, petrochemicals are also believed to act as a barrier that prevents your skin… from doing its other job aside from protecting and keeping your innards in: eliminating toxins and wastes from the system.

Another question to ask yourself is, are you mistakingly using antibacterial soaps? Maybe you are and don’t know it, as now 76% of liquid and 30% of bar soaps contain anti-bacterials. I know the “fighting evil germs and diseases” campaigning was balls-out but it never seemed like a good idea to me so I always avoided the stuff – relying more on pure soap and lotsa scrubbing. Besides irritating skin, clogging pores, there are other more serious reasons to stay clear, like exposing oneself to harmful chemicals, and by killing our beneficial bacteria leaving us susceptible to the more harmful ones. Some of the other cons to its use can be found in articles like “Anti-Bacterial Equals Anti-Health” on the NatureClean website.

What does this have to do with sunscreen? Okay, be patient, stick with me here. Our first piece to this puzzle is what we are doing to our skin that is causing it to be more susceptible to the sun’s rays, and that is stripping it of its natural oils; leaving the organ with no protective barrier. As far as soaps go, read your labels closely. Though with faux-natural and major brands there is no reason to necessarily trust they list everything that goes in it (as with the broad umbrella terms like “fragrances” or items unlisted because they are considered “trade secrets”), or that you will understand what makes up those strangely-named ingredients. At least try to find those that are less harsh on the skin. (Skin Deep reviews products for toxicity, as does the Green Guide, and Debra’s List links you with environment and health conscious companies). One thing’s for certain, if the soap says “deodorant bar” or “cleansing bar” etc., you can likely be certain it’s not an all-natural product (and an environmental no-no to be using it at your beach shower).

skin care

THE IMPORTANCE OF FACIAL CLEANSING (& WHEN NOT TO!)

As far as facial cleansing goes, there may not only be kinder products, but better methods. Sure we have to wash our face, get the dirt off, but I also think there is a disservice one is doing by always scrubbing/lathering off all the natural oils and replacing them with expensive (often synthetic lotions). While most do it to prevent the effects of aging skin, I believe done too often and at the wrong times of the day it has the opposite results; leaving one more exposed to the elements. People need to shift their focus, from products they buy to protect their skin, to equally supporting the body’s natural efforts to protect one’s skin.

HUMAN SEBUM ROCKS!henna sunblock

So here’s my tip of the day and the impetus for this article: The best moisturizer and sunblock -first and foremost- are the skin’s natural oils! As far as I can tell, after many years in the sun, the best sunscreen I have ever used is the one secreted by my skin. And the best thing one can do to take advantage of them, is to not scrub these oils off one’s skin before going out into the sun! Yes, I am saying do not wash your face -or even your body- before you go surf. Sure, if they could bottle human sebum they would and people would buy it; but hey, it’s free! Human Sebum has an SPF of 6-8! Try it, you’ll like it!

So sitting at the coffee shop, almost done writing this piece, while still searching for the SPF of sebum, which was strangely difficult to find, it thankful led me to this report in the Canada Medical Association Journal by Dr. Ralph Douglas Wilkinson entitled, “The Xerotic Nephrologist” which not only gave me the answer, but supported my completely unscientific theory regarding proper care of the skin before sun exposure:

Homo erectus existed for over a million years using the cool-water, no-soap system. The earth’s general fauna still use this system, which removes sweat without disturbing the waxy barrier. Housing and clothing have afforded us much protection, and our lipid layer has become somewhat expendable. A duck, however, would sink without its waxed feathers. For older people, preteens and people with very dry skin, emollients in the form of oils, lotions or creams may offer some help. If necessary, lotions without potential irritants such as perfumes, dispersants and preservatives can be used. Human sebum has a tendency to oxidize to a brownish hue, much like earwax. It is the “ring around the collar.” Sebum has a sunblock action estimated to be about SPF 6–8. Its removal may lead to cleaner collars, but it leaves the skin at higher risk for sun damage. The sun can cause skin damage on bald spots, which are sebum poor. The incidence of skin cancer on the head and face is high in North America. So is the use of soap and shampoo. Are they causally related? Sun damage in the child may be more severe than in the adult. Is this due in part to the absence of sebum in the pre-adolescent? My advice: wash with cool water, minimize or eliminate the use of soap, and wear a hat!

sebum sweatHe also mentions eccrine sweat and salty/acidic residue on face which, if it occurs after washing when the skin is no longer protected by its waxy barrier, can be very irritating… Yes, you may feel you’re successfully removing the sweat by scrubbing with soap and hot water, but the imbalance is that it can return in seconds, while sebum can take hours. Even hot water alone can cause sebum breakdown – sebum melts at 30°C. And where is a surfer most likely to get burned?: face, neck, shoulders, upper arms, back… all places we soap, scrub, and which receives the most impact from the shower jet.girl in hot bath

When a surfer wakes up in the morning, they should wait to wash their face – and body – with anything more than cool water until after their surf session. At night utilize your light facial cleansers, gentle scrubs, masks. Though Dr. Wilkinson recommends avoiding hot water – especially if you’re experiencing skin problems that could be instigated by over-washing – there are essentials like hot baths, jacuzzi’s and saunas (that are great muscle relaxers for surfers); but keep ‘em natural (no bubbles! no colors!) and enjoy them at night. Also preferably in the evening, an occasional steaming – for oily or dry skin – or a super soft hot washcloth placed on the face feels as sweet as it does at the Japanese restaurant. However you like to cleanse, simply search out and invest in the best quality, most pure, least irritating variety for you (best to avoid the regular grocery store for such a purchase) and make the impetus of the cleansing occur later in the day or when you will not be exposing yourself to the elements. If you must bathe morning or afternoon, replace the natural oil with moisturizers that will best mimic sebum (read on) and avoid the sun for at least a few hours afterwards.

MOISTURIZERS

UmbrellaMy too-sensitive skin -and eyes- can’t handle most popular moisturizers, so I’ll opt for light serums and creams by Zia, John Masters, Pangea, some of the MyChelle Dermaceuticals. I most often mix my own creams or more often “butters”, which usually contain a mix of cocoa, shea, mango. As well, I keep on hand refreshing sprays for the face and body, as it seems to keep one from having to constantly wash the face – especially in humid locales like Hawai’i, which can oft leave you feeling sticky and dirty. They are also nice to cool off with and vital for hydrating the skin during plane travel! Rose Water (Heritage Products is the least expensive -$3 for a 4oz bottle), Caudalie Grape Water (yum! If you’re in Hawaii best to buy it from Sephora while on Oahu because of the bottle design Caudalie can only ship it ground), and finally MyChelle’s Fruit Enzyme Mist “a hydrating, anti-inflammatory, age defying toner with heavy water and phospholipids for all skin types” – whatever, it works. I also try to dab off oils ‘n’ dirt as much as possible; like the beautifully-skinned Asian women, keep those tissue paper blotters handy, instead of washing to curb the shine (in a pinch or on a budget, toilet seat covers work, no really).

BODY CARE AND MOISTURIZINGCaudalie

“Oil instead of soap was used to remove dirt and grime.”

That was one of historical consultant Jonathan Stamp’s factoids displayed in the text embellishments for HBO’s awesome television series Rome (episode entitled “Utica” where Titus Pullo is being bathed) – oooof, I miss that show!

I surprised my friend the other day with coconut oil’s ability to clean the skin – took motor oil off a grease monkey in just a few wipes! It’s simply an amazing cleanser, which (as mentioned previously) is why real soap is based around it, but it’s also one of my favorite “skin creams” for dry legs (no matter that it’s thick and considered “comedogenic” – that’s why you blend it). As well it makes (again blended) a lovely massage oil and, FYI, the most awesome natural lube!

jojobaBesides Argan (which can have a iffy scent) my other fave skin and hair oil is Jojoba (Hawai’i people should get those on the mainland with Trader Joe’s access to ship you a box). Jojoba isn’t actually an oil but a wax. It has great healing qualities including being antibacterial, anti-oxidant, soothing, conditioning. It contains protein, minerals, and a waxy substance that mimics collagen. Unlike most vegetable oils it is chemically similar to human sebum, so it actually penetrates because the skin accepts it as a sebum, while at the same time it will not clog pores. These qualities are great for acne-prone/rosacea type skin, as well as rehab from negative effects of the sun. It works for all skin types: as a matter of fact, if your skin has an over production of sebum it will dissolve clogged pores and restore the skin to its natural PH. There is scientific research proving that “jojoba can increase skin softness by up to 37%, reduces superficial lines and wrinkles up to 25% upon application and up to 11% after 8 hours. (And hey, it’s a lot more cheap, simple and pure than concocted products that’ll make such claims).

Lots of high-end products tout their use of Squalene – derived from olive pits – which may be considered the closest comparable ingredient to human sebum, and with its natural emollients, gives the velvety feel that soothes the skin while replacing the necessary oil. Other oils that act like those naturally produced by the human skin includes: Macadamia Nut, Sweet Almond (similar to baby’s sebum), Sesame Oil, Shea Butter…and most seem to have an SPF of at least 4.

Oh, and in case you want to check your favorite oils, Moose Creek Bath and Body has a good list of the clogging probability of oils and ingredients. Since the term “non-comedogenic” is not regulated by the FDA or any other organization, a cosmetics company can make this claim regardless of proof or substantiation of any kind.

PRODUCTS THAT HELP YOU BURN

Citrus Body ScrubOne thing I’ve noticed in many products is the use of essential oils that are photosensitizing – meaning when applied they make your skin more susceptible or sensitive to the influence of ultraviolet light. Some may wrongly assume this will help them tan faster, similar to lemon on the hair causing it to bleach, but in this case it will only cause burning: reactions ranging from mild reddening to severe sunburn, often followed by hyperpigmentation. The obvious culprits are citrus oils but the list includes: angelica, bergamot, orange, lemon, lime, grapefruit, yuzu. Some recommend avoiding the sun when using carrot oil – as in Retinoid and other Vitamin A skin treatments – though because it’s acts as a preservative it is often found in face creams and some sunscreens ironically enough. If you like creams with such active ingredients, use them later in the day or at night. Some products like Proactiv® and dermatologist prescriptions for acne and rosasea can cause more skin problems if you don’t completely avoid the sun while using them. Ask your doctor!

As well, with more and more people indulging in massage/spa treatments, if there is any potential for sun exposure after, you’re best to ask if there are any photo-sensitizing oils in their products. Massage therapists are usually aware and use such oils only late afternoon and evening or tell their clients to keep covered or wash off before they go in the sun (for the most part they should evaporate within a few hours, though many recommend waiting to sun bathe for at least 12 hours after the massage).

THE CATCH-22 OF MAKE-UP:

bare minerals make-upI know a lot of people have to wash more often because they wear make-up. And people often wear make-up because make-up has played a part in ruining the quality of their skin, so they need to cover it up; a never-ending cycle. I’ve always just avoided the heavy stuff – foundation looks horrible on me and my skin hates it; it actually makes it look as if it can’t breathe. If you can, try to avoid liquid foundation, perhaps only use cover-up or clay-based whitening-pens on dark spots, and instead try a light natural mineral powder. They’re less irritating for most skin types; though it’s important to make certain you keep the tools (brushes) clean. On top of that, the mineral powders – containing minerals like zinc and titanium – are an efficient sunblock; many of these mineral facial and body powders are actually marketed specifically as sunscreens. A few things to watch out for: 1) Titanium is sketchy. Research it first. I prefer non-nano-size zinc. 2) Watch out for all the cheap fillers added to powders. For example, I can not comprehend why major cosmetic companies still use / customers still purchase talc. We’ve known for a long while now that talc’s structure is very similar to asbestos and is best to avoid when there are more safe alternatives.

Responding to this evidence in 1973, the FDA drafted a resolution that would limit the amount of asbestos-like fibers in cosmetic grade talc. However, no ruling has ever been made and today, cosmetic grade talc remains non-regulated by the federal government. This inaction ignores a 1993 National Toxicology Program report which found that cosmetic grade talc, without any asbestos-like fibers, caused tumors in animal subjects. Clearly with or without asbestos-like fibers, cosmetic grade talcum powder is a carcinogen.) … Since the early 1980s, records show that several thousand infants each year have died or become seriously ill following accidental inhalation of baby powder. Exposing children to this carcinogen is unnecessary and dangerous.

On the Cancer.gov web site it explains:

Talc is a “finely-powdered native hydrous magnesium silicate” and that “when administered into the pleural space, talc initiates an inflammatory reaction, resulting in adhesion of the visceral pleura to the parietal pleura and fibrosis, thereby effectively closing the pleural space.”

Fact is, I’d avoid breathing in the dust of any minerals. Regardless of whether a proper scientific study has been done or not, when small dust particles get into the lungs, the lungs don’t like it. So, even while applying the most “natural” of these mineral-based powders, make an effort not to inhale.

The Green Guide goes into detail about the use of minerals in cosmetics and their actual ingredients.

As there is no set definition for the term “mineral makeup,” any product that contains minerals as a primary ingredient may be touted as such, although it may also contain some unhealthy chemicals.

Some companies are conscious of people’s concerns. Check out ElyOrganics whose line utilizes zinc and claims: “No nano-particles, no dimethecone coatings and no titanium dioxide is ever used in Miessence mineral based cosmetic products.”

LUBING UP THE SKIN & INTERNAL SUNSCREENS

Coconut Oil Skin CareAnd finally, there’s something to be said regarding the foods we consume as part of our skin care regime. We’ve heard too often that we need to include natural – high omega – oils in our diet. I fiend for Greek olives, adore olive oil, and wonder if my Sicilian instincts don’t kick in some when it comes to providing extra protection for my “olive” skin. I certainly think most salad dressings are junk considering you could take advantage and get your natural oils easily in your dressing (flax seed oil, mix in some coconut vinegar and shoyu and you’ve got salad dressing in under 30 seconds). Or for the even more eternally lazy, mix some flax, hemp or extra virgin organic olive oil into your regular dressing. Including steamed fish into the mix works. I like poached salmon salad (simply steam it), adding arugula, avocado, fresh goat cheese, pine nuts or hemp seeds – surprisingly quick and easy to make. Though those close to me know I am a butter (ghee) whore, a good way to get healthy fat is dipping one’s bread in some high quality oil too. Any way you can consume some virgin coconut oil will be a plus.

Yes, healthy oils are the way to go. I wouldn’t be surprised to find some scientific correlation to people eating hydrogenated fats, and/or avoiding and cutting out healthy fats from their diet to making them more susceptible to the sun, cancer and wrinkles. It’s strange the pharmaceutical industry are producing -and people are buying- such weight loss drugs like “Alli”, which pulls the fat out of your meals, causing involuntarily explosive oily bowel movements; leaving one to try to digest an imbalanced mix of carbs and proteins (and without any fatty oils left, I imagine what remains in your colon is some serious constipation). Also, we know -don’t we?- that avoiding fat keeps one hungry and prone to eating more. And studies done on the weight lose results for those taking these pills is not positive. Though you see all the commentary and reports on the “good” and “bad” fats, diet-obsessed America seems ingrained with the notion that by eating fat they will become fat. I guess it supports the obsessive/compulsive, indulge/avoid, right/wrong mentality… not superfoodsto mention fodder for many AA meetings and psychology sessions and best selling books on the next best weight lose plan. Common sense – and a sense of how you feel when eating specific foods – should dictate.

Supplementations and consumption of foods that supply proper nutrition/vitamins, minerals and anti-oxidants that support skin and bones seem intelligent choices. Foods might include so-called “superfoods” and fruits (with high phytonutrient content) like: gogi berries, blackberries, pomegranate, acai, raw chocolate, chlorella, spirulina, to boost your skin’s natural UV protection. Antioxidants like a natural Vitamin C should be utilized daily. As well supplements like: Vitamin D (especially during winter, or times when you are not getting some daily sun exposure), astaxanthin (takes about 30 days of nutrition to boost skin levels) and MSM (magical stuff makes skin more permeable and pliant; preventative and promotes faster healing from sunburn) [for info on noni healing sunburn/blisters click here]. Magnesium (preferably transdermal) and silica (colloidal) are magic. Try yogurt, acidophilous, herbs and/or foods that help regulate colon function (after a good cleanse if needed) as your skin often seems to offer a visual on the health of your colon and liver. As well, stress and sleep deprivation makes one not only unhappy, unhealthy, and unproductive, it also keeps thatdrinking kava sallow, unglowing complexion that can’t easily withstand elemental factors; try Vitamin B (sublingual) for the stress, and Kava or Valerian Root (herb blends) at night to enhance relaxation naturally. A

Obvious as it is, drinking tons of pure water just can’t be beat for hydrating and protecting the skin. And of course the opposite holds true, so best to mellow out on anything too dehydrating like sodas, caffeine, alcohol and high sugar beverages when enjoying those outdoor activities. All of these things will hopefully give you an advantage, so you aren’t relying solely on topical sunscreen products and find yourself dismayed when they continually let you down. That said, utilizing the info in this article AND finding a eco-conscious natural sunscreen (and a big beach hat) will keep your skin happier and healthier. Let’s look hot surfing into our ’90s – well, why not try!


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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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Sea Turtle Sex CartoonAs a magazine writer (publishing my own magazines where I could -and would- add pages and shrink type size to barely legible as needed), I’ve grown accustomed to the zealous and verbose. Hey, when we wrote freelance back then we got two dollars for every drawn-out word (ah, the good old dayz). Anyway, I like curling up for a long read, and yes, I’ve even curled up with my Mac”Book” on occasion. But I can also appreciate the blurbs… er… blogs. Short and sweet. My sort of “articles” that appear in CGW typically originally stem from random thoughts and brain farts – that I might have intended on keeping simple… no, really. My intentions are good. I’m not trying to hurt anyone. And I know fully well, that 95% stop reading after the first paragraph…or first picture. Unfortunately, in that way that keeps me consciously success-stunted, I only care about the 5%. I only yearn for the attention of the strange soul who would sit through one of my unedited, parenthesis laden, adjective abusing, quote stealing, grammar-hating prose. And then the 1% that can relate – I will marry them.

REFOLDING THE ORIGAMI OF MY MIND (which way did it go?)origami sea turtle

So for those who want more than two supa-sized posts a month (hey, I do the surf report every day!), even though you won’t donate a penny (oh you didn’t notice that PayPal button – maybe it comes in fuzzy on your monitor), and despite varying degrees of suicidal inclinations, insecurities and inabilities to complete… I will do my best to write more often. Because, even if I make up a large portion of the 1%, I do not love myself enough to marry myself, and for some reason writing has a need and desire beyond sheer ego to be read (and keeping it all in my mind is making me a little weird and socially unacceptable). I’ll let this piece flow artlessly, unabridged, like an unreserved schizo diary entry for the one-minute-or-less crowd and (because of my heart-wrenching devotion to you dear readers) my only restriction will simply be…to try for once to keep it under 5,000 words.

So, my blog post for today is as follows….

The turtles here are attacking. No, seriously. The sea turtles. It’s like the birds. I mean The Birds, the movie. Actually, at this very moment, not very very moment, I’m writing this piece about sharks (Sharks, Swells and Stinky Smells – the original post intended to be a couple paragraphs long -actually it started off about ocean smells really- but, see what happens is, the topic starts opening itself up like origami and I can’t stop it and it opens and opens and… I fall in). So I’m kinda thinking about shark attacks, even though the piece is more about no shark attacks, when coincidentally people out surfing in Hilo start getting attacked. No, not by sharks, but by the Honu!

Hawaii Sea Turtle

purty turtle pict by Mila Zinkova check her link for more.

NO MORE TURTLE SOUP

Okay, attacked is a strong word. Most people are just getting hit by them. But see, here in Hawai’i they’re all over the place. Endangered list and no more turtle soup and (minus some questionable tumors [fibropapillona]) they’re thriving. And usually we don’t have a problem. One of a few reasons why we prefer Futures to FCS is ’cause the fin’ll pop out instead of pulling out the whole plug  with it when we hit the turtles with our skegs…we hit them and then we keep going, flying through the air, kinda Wile E. Coyote style – super funny. Luckily the turtle’s shells are tough enough to get pounded on rocks and cliffs – so they don’t mind so much. We grab the shell and go for rides (totally illegal people!) or pet the shell, which supposedly removes some protective algae coating and is bad for them but I don’t understand how…. (and I don’t dare look it up right now ’cause that’s often how my personal origami torture begins. Curiosity and all that. We don’t need to know everything….. Okay, maybe later… but I did notice this cool link… on instructions for an origami turtle and this freakish geekish YouTube vid that is short and to the point…besides being ridiculously impossible to follow… unless you’re Dungeons and Dragons-kine fanatic about folding pieces of paper.)

Anyway, before today the only person I knew who got injured by a sea turtle was a body surfer at Pohoiki, who dove head first into a wave straight into a turtle and broke his nose. The whole top portion of his face was black and blue – those things are huge.

MY ATTACK STORY

So today, after riding a wave, I’m paddling back out and my hand brushes a turtle, but instead of it casually shwooing away UFO-style as it typically would, it grabs me. I felt either like something chomped my hand that had no teeth, or my hand was stuck in some portion of its body, caught under the shell. I have no idea, but it hurt. More like a shock kinda hurt. You know how there are variables to pain, like when surfing and you eat it hard but jump right back on the board and shake it off. But then, when someone, or something, does it to you (causes a comparable amount of pain), somehow it “hurts” i.e. annoys you more. Is this still too train-of-thought…hmmm?

Thing is, after the odd turtle grabbing incident, and once I got over my hand kinda hurting, I had this weird vibe. Like that turtle told the other turtles something about me. Or like they were ganging up on me (I’m very sensitive). And I caught another nice left, into the shallow area (the longboarders were all going right but the lefts were sick and some barreling) – and another one charged at me, splashing the water next to me. I tried not to go left anymore but goofy-foot couldn’t help herself and it happened again; suddenly I felt surrounded, there were turtles everywhere, and they all seemed agitated. I screamed to my friend, in kinda a joking way, but I really wanted her to watch me paddle back out ’cause I felt threatened. Hey, there are stranger horror movie concepts than this!

Sea Turtle Sex

SEX

So problem here is… that I’m missing the love triangle of the story. Okay, one aspect is in the shark piece (that’s almost completed by the way, did I mention) – and that is about sharks possibly being attracted to female smells. Yes, female humans. No, not in order to attack them…to…you know…sexually (okay, you’ll have to read it). It’s just a few juggled hypotheses. But, what are turtles attracted to or not attracted to… they’re just so damn quiet, they don’t let on. They never talk, never complain – they just cruise, nibble and piss.

Ahhh and make babies! See, I never witnessed it live. But when my girl dog was going to jump in at one of her favorite swimming spots the other day, she sniffed around, retreated, and took a wide turn to enter farther away. She smelt them, because she never actual caught the visual of them underwater, but there they were, two huge consenting alien sea creatures, embarking on a journey together. (Do they mate for life?; I wonder their age difference?; Is it pleasurable?… note again, more future research). So, back to embarking, it was more like an embargo. The male: sorta clumsy slow-mo extra large space ship (didn’t catch visual size of the…package). The woman:  Obviously thinking to herself “whatevers – if he can’t get it goin’ on I’m over it.” This male turtle failed, but I’m concluding she can do better.

Anyway, point being, me thinks it’s mating season. Is that why the turtles are all ornery? (Oh shit, now I know why she was being choosy – I just read once coupled, they can stay that way for 10 hours —- see what happens when you don’t have cable for National Geographic or Discovery Channel…or even a TV). But one of the reasons I brought up female smells, is the fact that many of the surfer girls here… seem to be bleeding at the same time. Got a lot of full moon bleeders. It’s like a gang. A hardcore surfer girl gang of full moon bleeders. So the past week – blood. Lots and lots of menstrual blood (which was the actual impetus of the shark piece – no, you’ll have to read it! Yes, all of it!). And these turtle attacks have been happening over the past week. Are they not having any luck with their women? Are they hoping to get lucky with us? Or are we making the women mad stealing their men? Hey, maybe I’ll leave those and my other fifty questions unanswered ’cause this piece could certainly get longer.

That’s it. That’s all I have to say about the matter. Now I’m sleepy. That felt good. Just to get the moment’s ramble out of my head. A lot more easy! I guess the post is more text than most blogs – I’ll work on it – but it’s a start! Maybe I’ll even sleep more than five hours tonight. Wow, this must be how real bloggers feel. Kinda raw grandiose purification – an ocean plunge of words. Yeah, perhaps I’ll cap it off with a nice warm sea salt bath.

*   *   *

Okay, I definitely need the bath. I was almost raped by a sea turtle. I kinda had to do a little more research before going to bed – couldn’t help myself. But listen, did you know there was a Marine Turtle Newsletter? With an article entitled “Sexual Harassment By A Male Green Turtle”, written by Brian W. Bowen of the Hawai’i Institute of Marine Biology at the University of Hawai’i? Neither did I…

Male sea turtles (family Cheloniidae) are notoriously indiscriminate in mating behavior, facilitating hybridization among most of the species in this family (Karl et al. 1995)…. Male sea turtles occasionally attempt copulation with human swimmers, snorkelers, or scuba divers (W.N. Witzell, pers. comm.). The loggerhead (Caretta caretta) mating population in Southeast Florida lies adjacent to one of the most densely populated coastlines in the world, and every year a few people are approached or (more rarely) mounted by male loggerheads. NOAA diver Jack Javech of the U.S. National Marine Fisheries Service Miami Laboratory reports two copulation attempts by male loggerheads while scuba diving in the Florida Keys (J. Javech, pers. comm.). During a separate incident in the same area, a turtle mounted a male scuba diver and made good its mating attack on this luckless individual (Epstein 1989). A commonality in these events is that the male turtle attempts to pin the victim to the bottom. These are large powerful animals, with potential to inflict injury or even drown an unsuspecting swimmer.

…The green turtle described here did not raise fore-flippers in an attempt to grasp the target, as they do with conventional mating. Probably by the time that occurs, the interaction is inevitable. The only advanced warning was the deliberate approach of a male turtle, and the only acute signal was the ongoing attempt to approach my backside. Both behaviors are unusual and should be regarded as harbingers of a copulation attempt.

This is shocking. Yet another thing no one warned me about! Helllooo, I had to touch live coral (accidentally) to understand that it’s sharper than a razor; I had to see a lobster-sized hard-shelled centipede (clickity-clicking through the lava rocks of an outdoor shower) before I was ever informed such horrible things existed; and none of the guys I surfed with -when I was younger and so obviously desperate to learn- ever gave me a hint about the concept of turtle diving. Oh, cute, that led us right back to turtles.

Could only find a wiki-fact (it’s own breed of facts):

In the tropics, green turtles are known to nest throughout the year, with some subpopulations preferring particular times of the year.

WARNING: The sea turtles in Hawai’i are mating! And they don’t seem to care who they are mating with! The sweet docile omnivorous creatures have a dark side! Girls, watch yourselves. And guys, don’t assume you are safe – those species-swingers have been bumpin’ men too! Keep your legs closed at all times! Paddle lightly! Look before you pop-up (and let me have the lefts!) Beware of the Honu!

xo, sweet dreams…


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