Archive for the ‘Surfer Girls’ Category

Hawaii Winter Heating ToasterDon’t laugh at us when we complain, it gets cold in Hawai’i.

Not ice blistering Alaska cold, but cold all the same.

Before you call us pussies, let me explain. In Hawai’i, most houses are semi-contained. Many places here have either no windows or some windows, and the rest is screened in. There’s no heat, and rarely air conditioning. So whatever the temperature is outside, is what the temperature is inside.

So while the rest of the world would have their thermostats moderating something around 65°, we’re getting nice moist chilled air swooping off the mountains below 50° nighttime through the early morning.

The past few days I’ve had to resort to toaster hand warming, running the oven and opening the door, using the still-hot saucepan (after making rice) on my belly and bones, hot showers, foot soaks, jogging in place, ThermaCare neck warmers taped on the back, wool socks and hoodies, and even stuffing my Malamute / Chow Chow under the covers, to no avail. In a few hours I’ll be in shorts and a t-shirt, and the rest of the freezing world will be jealous, but until then….

While we’re on the topic, every year on weather modification sites you will see posts about snow here. To be clear, before there were airplanes, there’s been snow on the tops of Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa. That doesn’t discount “geoengineering” by any means, nor does it discount the fact that even those not living near the tops of volcanos are shivering.

I might even have to bust out my long sleeve 2mil wet suit top today for our current brisk ocean temp of 75.7 – what, don’t laugh!

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I hadn’t heard of Calavera Swimwear until I wrote an article last year entitled: “Swimsuits Surfer Girls Should NOT Wear“. A number of women commented and recommended I check out Calavera, and eventually the company contacted us with an invitation to try their suits. Now, as a surfer grrl who has been designing the perfect suits and wet suits in my mind (and on paper) for the past, um, 25 years, it was nice to see a company follow through on the dream concept of suits that stay on and look hot! On top of that, they’re really good quality, made in the U.S.A., and you don’t have to close your eyes when a wahine wearing one paddles in front of you and lifts her leg for a duck dive (Brazilian bikinis have their time and place, ahem). Calavera proves you can combine sexuality and functionality – and their innovative designs address issues most female athletes have when it comes to swim/active wear. No more yanking, tugging, sore necks and worrying about being undressed by the waves. We decided it was time to chat with Anna Jerstrom, founder and designer of Calavera, about her inspiration and the evolution of swimwear for surfer girls.anna_headshot2

When did you start surfing?

I was a “late bloomer” as far as surfing is concerned and didn’t discover it until adulthood. I was in the office late one night (one of many) and booked a trip to Costa Rica. I had no idea it was going to change my life so drastically but within six months, I had traded in my high-flying investment banking job for a life as a surf bum.

What inspired you to start designing your own suits?

I have always been a hobby designer, making my own clothes. When I moved to Costa Rica, the sewing machine came with me. Calavera came about from a personal frustration with the type of swimwear available on the market. Most suits just did not work for surfing. Having to adjust, check and tug all the time was really distracting.

Most of the big brands are focused on fashion apparel for the beach girl. While I love a cute bikini, there is a huge opportunity to take that cute suit and put performance at the center of the design process to make it functional. So, that’s what we did!

What’s the magic behind a Calavera suit?

Calavera is all about “under the hood” construction: fillers, tight-weave elastic, iron-on stabilizing materials, etc. These elements combine to make the fit durable but without sacrificing style. In terms of design, Calavera bikinis have loads of sass with a little punk rock thrown in.

Essentially, I am making swimwear for myself. Sure, I want to look good on my board, but I don’t want to miss the wave of my life because I was trying to adjust my bikini. So the suits are a combination of my own style and my desire to perform as a surfer. Apparently that’s an experience a lot of women can relate to.

What are some of the things that are unique to Calavera as a company?

The company represents a lifestyle, a passion and a kinship. At the heart of it are the Calavera girls – women who have decided to pursue their dreams and will let nothing stop them.

Where is Calavera made?

All the Calavera products are made in the US of A, specifically in Downtown LA. I’m trying to keep production streamlined and local in order to maintain a lighter “footprint” while supporting locally owned businesses.

What are some of the craziest situations where you have tested your Calavera bikinis? I saw something recently about a car wash…?

Yes, indeed! We bribed a car wash guy in San Jose, Costa Rica, strapped a couple of our Calavera girls on the hood of our car and drove it through the car wash. Verdict: the suit stayed on. You can see the whole thing unfold here.Calavera Poster

All Calavera designs are tested thoroughly in the water at Playa Hermosa in Costa Rica, which has some of the heaviest waves in the world.  There have definitely been some gnarly situations, but it is one of those places that literally isn’t surfable when waves get really big. But we love hearing from our customers about their experiences and exploits, so we’d welcome tales of big wave riding in Calavera designs.

Who is the Calavera team?

  • Evie Johnstone is a British native based in Costa Rica. She is on the National Circuit there and also writes a really good blog – Evie Surf - about her life in Costa Rica and as a pro surfer.
  • Jordan Hundley is currently number 38 in the world and she is the “baby” of the Calavera crew.
  • Amy Luis is the flow boarding world champion. (Check this video out of Amy sporting the Calavera rash guard. The thing doesn’t even move!)
  • Ami Berg is an amazing East Coast girl who helps train women in the special Olympics and teaches children with autism how to surf.
  • Heather Jordan is a native of Southern California who chose to postpone a shot at a full-time career in surfing in order to pursue a higher education. A well-traveled surfer, Jordan presently surfs on the UCLA women’s team and took 4th place in the College Women’s division at the NSSA National Championship.

We are also on the hunt for another crew member. But any girl who puts on her suit, paddles out determinedly and charges has the heart of a Calavera Girl.

Tell us a little about some of the riders you sponsor.

We want our customers to feel like they are part of the team; that she could be that Calavera Girl. As such, we take a slightly different approach than many brands; we want our team to be approachable and relatable. While they are all very accomplished surfers, they represent much more. They are the fearless, feminine water warriors. When the girls get together you are guaranteed to have a crazy good time, get very little sleep and make some fantastic memories.

Besides surfers (and the Queen of England), what other kinds of action-sports gals like Calavera? 

We’re thrilled that Calavera has started to spread among all kinds of water and beach sports. There are so many female athletes that struggle with the same issues as surfers and it is super exciting to see how Calavera is resonating with active women all over the world – beach volleyball players, stand-up paddlers, wake boarders, flowboarders, triathletes,  runners and many more.

I saw you added larger sized suits (DD). How is Calavera working for larger-sized surfer girls?

Avery in Calavera Pine Trees Kauai

Local Girl Avery Lookin’ Hot in Calavera’s 2013 Siren Suit; Pine Trees, Kauai

It is tougher for larger chested women to get the support they need. We have gotten a couple of feedback emails from DD ladies saying it is the first time they have ever been able to surf in a bikini, which is really rewarding for us to hear. I feel strongly that surfing and other watersports should not be about your size, and we want to try to cater to all kinds of shapes and forms. It’s about following your passion.

Calavera has been doing runway shows. Is it a new thing for a real surf suit to be attractive enough to show on a runway with “fashion” swimwear? How’s the experience been?

The challenge for Calavera is to communicate the functional aspects of the suit, since they are mostly hidden solutions that don’t really come across on the catwalk. Ideally, we’d put on a fashion show at a place like the Wave House in San Diego and have the flowboarder girls showcase the suits in action. One day we will pull that off!

I know a lot of women have dreamed of creating their own clothing/swim suit company; how did you get the ball rolling?

It is really just a matter of going for it. It is much like surfing – you just have to commit to that drop, even if it looks impossible – because that is the ONLY way you are actually going to make it.

How did you get the funds to start the company?

I was lucky to have a financial and business background so I could tap into my network for seed capital.

What were some of the ups and downs?

Life as an entrepreneur is full of unique rewards and challenges. Seeing a stranger wear one of your designs is definitely a high. Production, on the other hand, is riddled with challenges. You have to be able to think fast on your feet and address complications as they arise.

What is your marketing strategy?

Avery in Calavera

We love how all the tops utilize crisscross or t-backs, to avoid extra strain on the neck!

Calavera is a brand experience, a crew you join not just a bikini you put on. Our product is our core backbone, but beyond that we want to give all the female water athletes out there something to identify with. I love the phrase “Fearless Femininity” as it really captures what we are all about.

What might you say to wahines who want to start their own company?

It is important to do the research. Figure out how big the market is, what the profile of your consumer is, how much money you need to make it work, etc.  Generally there is a much higher chance of success if the product solves a problem or improves someone’s life in a novel way. The consumer is generally much more receptive to buying a solution rather than a product.

We love your website! Who does your web design?

Avery Smiles in Calavera

We surfed in the suits across Kauai. Here our girl Avery bodyboards 3-4 (Hawai’i style) shore break. No need to readjust even after close-out barrels. That’s something to smile about!

Thank you! I founded Calavera with my brother who is a very experienced e-commerce developer and strategist. The web shop is his baby and I am in awe of his creativity.

Why did you decide to only sell online? What are the advantages and disadvantages to marketing this way? When will Calavera be available in stores?

We launched online only initially because it allows us to connect directly with the consumer and start generating cash flow. Wholesale is the next phase and we’re just starting to test those waters. You have to prove sustainability and relevance in order for stores to take a chance on a new collection and having a robust online sales track record with demonstrates there is a demand for our unique brand. The disadvantage is that in doing so, you take inventory risk onto your balance sheet and as a small company it is hard to tie up your resources. Calavera has chosen to manufacture locally to ameliorate that problem, and we can refill our stock much more quickly than if we were relying on overseas factories.

What do you envision as the evolution of surfing for women? 

It is fantastic to see how surfing and other water sports are taking off among women. I think the top pro girls will continue to push the barriers, but I am also excited about the way surfing has become more mainstream and part of many active women’s lives. I have so many situations where women tell me they just started surfing and how much they love getting out in the water to de-stress from their careers and busy lives. Surfing has brought so much happiness to my life, and I get excited to see others experiencing that “surfing crush” for the first time!

What’s next for Calavera?

We are expanding into new active wear garments that look as good as they function. We’ll continue to come up with new and unique solutions that empower women to focus on performing in their chosen sport.

Can you give us any sneak peaks of new designs?

We’re launching a slew of exciting products in 2013, extending our reach a bit. We have a brand new swim top design which worked like magic when we put it to the test in Costa Rica, and we are introducing a pair of shorts and a full coverage bottom. Our best-selling “Glam” top is also getting some new sassy colors, and we are working on a one-piece with some new solutions never seen before in surf wear.

Evie 2012

The Siren suits; like a second skin!

WE’RE SOLD! We’re so smitten with this brand, we’ve decided to help them launch into Hawai’i shops. Right now you can purchase Calavera at Hanalei Surf on the North Shore of Kauai, with more stores coming soon. (Check back with us as we’ll be updating the list of HI locations.) Next time you’re in a bikini or surf shop and you don’t see Calavera on the racks, make sure to ask! And if you are a Hawai’i store owner/ buyer interested in carrying Calavera, feel free to contact us to help you set up an account or contact Calavera direct.

Wanna learn more about Calavera?
Check out a preview of their new short Water Warriors – coming to a film festival near you!

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And we thought it happened with SUPs and Costco boards. Welcome, the Chanel surfboard. Hmm, then again, I would have loved to go surfing with CoCo….

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Amazing surfer. Awesome suit. If this stays on in the water we're all for it. (from Malia Jones' SI/Walter Iooss Jr. shoot a few years back)

There are always issues when fashion eludes function, and visa versa, and this is certainly the case with water gear for surfer girls. Personally, I feel companies who have sold themselves as girl / women surf companies, though they have some lovely clothes, have let the average Jo surfer girl down in terms of truly awesome surf suits. In Hawai’i, we surf with some of the hottest pro surfer girls in the world, all hard-bodied and perfection. Hello world, we are not all built that way! Some women’s boobs actually jiggle and laugh in the face of a stretchy sliding spaghetti strap! In this post (which we’ll likely add to) we look at some surfer girl swimsuit don’ts….

The halter: It may make the boobage look all pushed together, snuggly, and a little mo’ big, but the halter is the worst kind of bathing suit top for a surfer girl. Fashion statements are one thing. I have a nice, yellow, bust-enhancing halter from Victoria Secrets, which does magical things, but it’s for wearing on the beach (for short spurts) not on my board. Why? Surfer girls have enough problems with neck strain; why put additional pull on the neck while we surf. You may not feel it while it’s happening, but your neck and shoulder muscles are compensating. Beware; especially larger breasted women. Unless you are spider-bite sized, you should avoid the halter. The crisscrossed back and sports bra styles seem to offer the best boob and postural

A zipper on the chest - Roxy, really?

support and consistent coverage for bigger surf. Now if only form and function could evolve beyond the compressed boob-flattening that the sporty suits create. There are a few brands out there…but there needs to be more!

The Tankini: These often offer nice comfy support and are lovely for women who don’t want to show the belly. Unfortunately for the surfer girl they have a habit of riding up, or down, while surfing. And body surfing – ferget it! – the boob always pops out the top. Unless you can find one that’s secure fitting, you’re best to get a nice rash guard to cover up.

cute but not functional

Board Shorts with Elastic Waist Bands: These are often offered at a Costco and seem like a good deal, until they’re around your ankles after a wipe-out. Though even Hurley and Billabong make them now, and they’re making their way into the surf stores, I recommend only wearing this style out and about or for jogs on the beach. The exception is for the full-figured surfin’ wahine who can stretch out the elastic all the way or their bootay is bootayfull enough to keep ‘em up and… they ain’t goin’ nowhere. Simply an observation: guys who wear elastic board shorts are 99% of the time not surfers.

Board Shorts with Fake Ties and Fake Pockets: While we’re on the subject… why put a friggin’ tie in the front of a board short if it has no functional purpose? And by that I mean, why not make it functional!? Why put a pocket on girl’s board shorts if you don’t bother making it so the wax could stay in it? And by that I mean, would it really cost that much more to have the velcro go that extra inch across the whole pocket, g-d forbid you did such skimping on same brand’s men’s boardshorts – just sayin’. These are a few of the little things I’ve wondered about… for the past 20 years. No big deal, surely they’ll give me a good answer some day. Or maybe this needs to go in the NASA pile: things the geniuses at NASA will have to invent once the space program is null and void and they can invent high-IQ solutions and inventions that couldn’t be accomplished by the common man.

Suits with Embellishments: Unfortunately, some cute suits (like the deals you find at Ross) have weird embellishments in odd places. Like O-rings on the front of the hip or between the bust – ouch. Dangling beads also suck when you jump back on the board and have no time to reposition because you need to paddle back out before the next big set. I remember when Xcel had the plastic adjuster for the elastic cinch on their womens (not mens!) wet suit tops in the front, making it awfully painful when lying on the board. They should have made a public apology and refunded everyone (hey, I still have a few). After many complaints they did realize women would actually be surfing in it and repositioned it like the men’s version.

Honey Girl makes their sporty tops cute, supportive, with a light SEWN-IN padding… but maybe a little more sexy? & make the halter on the right with a crisscross back!


Bikini Bottoms with Tie Strap Sides: These are fine in small waves, but the thing about the surf, it has a way of undressing you. When it happens you will be happy if the side that unties is not the side with the leash, if ya know what I mean. Many a surfer girl has paddled in nekkid; don’t let this happen to you.

If you have the perfect surf swimsuit, send a pict or link! If you are a big surf company and want to see all the dream wahine water gear I’ve been designing in my mind for ten years, give me a buzz. If you’ve had a horrible surf swimsuit experience, send it in for another post!

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wahines luv o.n.e. coconut waterDespite the absolutely obscene cost of living, Hawai’i does have some economic advantages. I mean, if you’re starving, you can always climb a coconut tree  – preferably a short Samoan – or even find a nut that has fallen (without crackin’) and machete it open (okay, power drills and a straw work great too!). Drink the sweet juice, especially of the young coconut, and feel that fresh electrolyte buzz.

There are certain foods and drinks that, when you’re feeling a little low: tired between sessions, trying to snap out of stoned, getting over a bug… absolutely revitalize you. Thing is, we are rarely able to get the same kind of quality and essence in the processedONE Coconut Water product as we find within the living one.

As for this one, O.N.E. Coconut Water keeps the processing to a minimum. There’s nothing in the list of ingredients that you can’t figure out: 100% natural coconut water – makes sense it’s title translating to “One Natural Experience”. Thing is, it tastes like it. Offering it up to some of the local wahines here – surfer girls who grew up drinking the real thing – they all agreed (“yum!”) it tastes just like the fresh juice.

We can thank the great advancements in the production process over the past decade. Previous to that, minimal options included the old Thailand canned version (high-temp pasteurization, lost nutritional qualities, lotsa preservatives and a weird flavor), or even the first versions of cold-processed microfiltration (still not perfected, with added ingredients like sucrose).

Most important thing is that the packaged product doesn’t just taste great, but it has the qualities that make coconut water so healthy, hydrating, and beneficial to the body. O.N.E. lists off their health benefits as:

ONE coconut water health benefits

O.N.E. was kind enough to send us a case, so I was able see how this product might benefit a surfer. Drinking a container before and after each session, I felt as if I could stay out longer. And the aprés surf dose was sweetly quenching. Even though surfers easily get dehydrated after a typical two-hour session, many of us don’t drink much water immediately after, especially when it’s overcast or we’re chilly or feeling water-logged. Electrolyte drinks tend to be more satisfying – one reason we recommend our Surfer-Girl Lemonade recipe… but sometimes it’s just not convenient. Thing is, an 11oz container of O.N.E. is supposed to hydrate similarly to a liter of water. And it tastes so satisfying, you start to crave it. And you feel so good after drinking it, you’re practically ready to paddle back out.

Coconut water, as a holistically complete, biologically pure, natural isotonic beverage, is the ultimate hydrator. I mean, what other nature-made unprocessed substance can be used as an alternative IV to human blood plasma!? What other unprocessed fluid is, good-to-go, the next best thing to breast milk when you’ve just plum run out?

These coconuts are from Brazil, but that’s okay with me. I mean, personally, I don’t see why Hawai’i doesn’t have their own coconut water production going by now, but powers-that-be here seem more devoted to turning all agricultural lands into housing/ commercial/ tourism opportunities (for their friends, family, and themselves). Of course, these are the same people that lease-out our ag tetra packaginglands to chemical co.’s like Monsanto to help them cover the aina with GMOs and pharm-crops and contaminate our fragile eco-system. Fact is, since we can’t seem to help ourselves, we might as well help support the Amazon Rainforest – as products like this helps to provide sustainability for said region.

And you can’t go wrong with the packaging either. If you must utilize something other than glass, these Tetra-Paks are created with little waste (totally foldable design) and are recyclable. Haven’t researched it but hopefully the lining isn’t as bad as typical plastics.

Still, coconut water – similar to the young “jelly” fruit – can be an acquired taste, especially for those born in areasfalling coconuts where palm trees bare no fruit. But once you do get into it, it becomes a healthy craving. Those lucky enough to enjoy tropical island goodness, you can not only climb a tree, but you can buy coconuts ice cold at any farmer’s market or fruit stands found on the side of the road, which have coolers full of ice-cold coconuts for a few bucks. But if those options aren’t available – or you’re a surfer who wants to make certain you’re going to have some quality refueling available – then I’d seriously stock up on coconut water and make it a delicious part of your re-hydration process.

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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.


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.


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


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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Keala Kennelly John From CincinnatiI recall this summer, my So. Cal surf buddy Marguerite made a funny comment regarding HBO’s then new “John From Cincinnati” while we were walking to the showers at El Porto and found ourselves bombarded with the show’s poster campaign. Well, the comment was more cleverly phrased but the gist was something to the effect of, “You’ve never seen a more miserable group of surfers.” That I had, a few nights previous, tried to sit through two unbearable, incomprehensible episodes of that bummerama -thinking I was somehow just not getting it- I found myself happy and relieved to agree. I mean, even on the most annoying or frustrating day out in the water, I still feel better than the characters on that show. As in my previous piece referencing the perils of Hollywood trying to capitalize on the surfing lifestyle (“Point Break 2: Young, Dumb, and…More Surf Movies to Cum“) no matter what pro-surfers you infuse in the mix, most of the supposedly story-driven (as opposed to surf-footage-driven) movies and TV shows regarding surfers or surfing seem to miss the mark. While most of the surf genre go so far into cliché you aren’t watching john from cincinnati posteranything new, this show wanted desperately to prove they were anything and everything but cliché…and ended up running so far in the other direction they left you in their wake. And as far as representing the essence o’ surf, these Hollyweirdos always, on cue, miss the point — guys, you can’t buy “it”, you have to experience it!!! Yeah, I know co-creator Kem Nunn surfs (as far as I can tell he only wrote Episode Two and co-wrote Episode One, with a jumbled mix of writers and directors for the rest of the season) and is supposed to be Mr. “Surf-Noir” (Tijuana Straits, Tapping the Source…) but…he probably rides a longboard. Seriously, maybe these things have to be written and directed by surfers -you know, during a break in the swells- so it doesn’t get filtered through the hallow minds of executive money-men. HBO – I expected much more from you! Especially with this as your Sopranos replacement!!!.

Posted on the Surfline website, writer Paul Holmes compiled a nicely written piece (“Space Aliens Take Over HBO…“) regarding the cancellation of the doomed series (somehow linking it to the fact the alien-infested junk tabloid Weekly World News was canceled as well: “It can’t be a coincidence that another bastion of quasi-mystical fantasy entertainment, The W.W.N., announced it would cease publication the same week.”). The only two things I found interesting about JFC were: my friend’s ex-wife rebecca-demorney.jpgRebecca DeMorney, who has not done any decent work in a long while, was…pretty decent (considering), and Keala Kennelly who actually “retired from the ASP World Tour (and moved to LA) in order to pursue her acting gig on the show” (seriously!?) was absolutely adorable.

So who was this “John” from Cincinnati anyway? Did anyone think they would find out…or care? Maybe it could have been interesting if they didn’t complicate matters with this savant-kook. But frankly, the real mystery of “John” and the whole show in general is how it got made in the first place and how with so many good actors you find a way to make them so unlikable and uninteresting. And why none of the truth-seeking soul-surfers on the set, all amped-upjohn from cincinnati set like it was a killer day at Pipe, bothered to stop mid-fantasy to infuse some reality into the scenario, “Ho!!!! Guys, it’s only 1 foot, high tide, on-shore and there’s a sewage spill…This shit stinks!!!”

Dear Hollywood, I’m really busy right now but if you pay me the six figures I will write your dang surf flick, or series… I’ll direct and edit the fugger as well. Other than that, can you stop the abuse already and move on to some other sport. Maaaahalo!

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surfer girl hairWith search engines leading people who are trying to get “Surfer Girl Hair” to my article essentially detailing how to avoid it (“Secret Hair Tips for the Surfer Girl”), I decided I might as well publish my own recipe for the look. Likely a “How To” appeared on some trendy web site inflicting fads on experimental youth. Surfer girls whose hair turns dry and brittle from the daily effects of salt and sun may not understand those who want to purposefully put their hair through such abuse. And similarly, like the new tanning salon that opened up in our little Hawai’i town, I would find it absurd for anyone who has sun/ocean access to try to capitalize on one piece of the puzzle, going for “the look” instead of the experience and the multitude of benefits one can enjoys from surfing, swimming, etc. But I do have sympathy for those who simply can’t get the look the natural way – because of location, finances, etc. – and I’d do anything to help you avoid harsh bleaches and chemical hair products!

SophiaNaturally, my hair is so dark brown it’s almost black, but as a surfer it lightens up with highlights that go all the way to bright blonde (as opposed to lemon juice natural sun and sea coloring seems to skip the icky orangy phase). It’s the combination of the salt and sun that creates the look. Ocean water is on average 3.5% salt – though salinity is effected by evaporation, precipitation, and ground water or river water entering into it. I know the more salty and sunny the surf spot, the quicker my hair fries. On the East sides of the Hawai’i islands, with its abundance of river mouth breaks and more rain and clouds to block the sun, the condition of my hair doesn’t get quite so affected. On the West side though, with less fresh water and more desert-style environment, I can get “Surfer Girl Hair” in just a few sessions.ocean water salinity map

Ingredients (approximate):

* Sea Salt – 2 heaping tablespoons

* Water – 2 cups

* Oil (olive or coconut or whatever you have lying around) – 1 tablespoon

Heat water on the stove; pour in the salt and stir. Turn off heat, let cool to warm. Shampoo your hair (do not use conditioner) and it dry. Pour solution over hair (if you have long hair, saturate it as much as possible by first dunking hair into a bowl of the solution). Do not rinse; towel dry. If you have curly or slightly thick or dry hair that can handle some oil, put roughly one tablespoon of the oil into your palm, rub hands together, then cover outer layer of hair (avoid bangs or you’ll get zit-faced). Oil attracts sun rays and holds in heat and helps cook it better.

blue crush hairIf you don’t have access to a xenon lamp (ehem), simply go out in the sun (do not put hair in a rubber band if you can avoid it). Even if it’s overcast, some rays that provide general light are coming through. The closer to the equator the better. but the goal is to try to get as much sun as you can. Though it may take longer than your average Hawai’i surfer girl, you should see the effects. If you are going to be lying out in the sun at all (wear natural zinc sunscreen), then splay your hair out as much as possible. The hair that dries fastest and gets the most exposure seems to be the hair that bleaches out the most. And after it dries, wet hair again with a spray bottle that contains some salt water mix. Stop once you get the streaks/highlights you want and invest in some good conditioners. Also, as this is all designed to destroy the hair ;) we recommend adding some omega/flax oils to your diet, which seems to help keep hair flaxen!

There are also a bunch of products that have come on the market recently, which can add to the look: goops and sprays designed to give you that “sexy, salty, wind-styled texture”. No dough for new product? Use a little of your conditioner or gel mixed with a touch of jojoba, argan, coconut or other oil you happen to have in the kitchen. If you simply don’t wash your locks too often and let it get a little gunky,Chelsea Charges Surf throw in a dash of sand, stick your head out the car window – be creative – you can achieve your own carefree surfer look. (Disclaimer: once it crosses the line into rastafari dreds we can’t helpya.)

So, that’s it. But hey, if you ever decide to cruise Hawai’i to charge some waves and go for the natural surfer girl style… give us a buzz!

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

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

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

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

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

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

point break two

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

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

“Young, dumb and full of cum”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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cool surfer girlNo matter how peace and love one wants to be, or wants others to be, sometimes we fall prey to our immediate reactions and needs, where even the telling of the story shows my own inability towards benevolence. The Zen of surfing makes all of our experiences out in the water relatable and symbolic on land. Today’s (surf) lesson is in the words “line-up” and “aloha”. I apologize but must begin this tale with a nod to Summer Roberts (dedicated to my sis NinaB), VIP character on the debatably bad teen drama The O.C. So if you (or your kids) ever watched the show, please pronounce “Eeeeew” in a way that might make her proud.

“Eeeeew”, yuck, are you serious?! The most straightforward, girlie reactions chattering in my head after a witless, myopic comment by an otherwise seemingly appealing surfer boy in the water the other day. He’s new to the islands; fresh from real O.C. (Orange County that is). I was scoping him out…not in that way -not my type- but nice to look at and a friendly chat between sets. There were only four of us out at this spot and enough waves to do an honest rotation. But like many who were never properly schooled in the lingo or had adequate opportunity to vibe the true aloha spirit of the sport (or mature enough to attain some hard-earned wisdom…or a mellowing enough to think straight etc….), there is a lack of comprehension of the seemingly obvious meaning behind the word “line-up.” Yes lil’ kiddles, it means wait your turn! Sure, it’s par for the course that on most solid days we all get a little excited to get our fill (we all have found ourselves being selfish – no one is immune!). But at least you’d assume on a gorgeous, mellow, sweet Hawai’ian afternoon with only a few guys out, that common courtesy would -with a little encouragement- kick in – right?

summer robertsSo when a local girl paddled over and waited patiently through about three sets -while the aforementioned guy paddled just inside her each time so she couldn’t have a wave of her own- I yelled, “let the girl go already!” To me it had nothing to do with the fact it was a girl or not, but since girls are oft too courteous or less aggressive they many times aren’t jockeying for the best position. So while they’re waiting their turn, so to speak, the guy goes, you know, that bit deeper and therefore claims the “right of way”. Even if it’s a piddly wave, they’re overcome with the need to have to take it. Or they’re obviously not in the right spot, too deep, but no one can go since they’re taking off, stuck in the white wash over the reef – whatta waste! Inevitably they’re just trying to control the scenario – usually it’s guys who aren’t the top dogs, often haoles hoping hopelessly to build up some kind of credibility and these smaller dayz are their moments to shine…so to speak. I’m sure it’s hormonal. Frequently this is the same guy who will whine, “the girls are always taking off in front of me.” Well, when one’s manliness prevents one from allow a girl to sit deeper, and you can’t let a wave pass if you can help it…after a while, just to shut you down in the very least, someone’s probably going to take off in front of you.

So anyway, back to my “Let the girl go!” request…he didn’t. He just couldn’t. And upon his paddle back out he purposefully passed close enough to offer me his contemplative explanation, which went something to the effect of “you guys lost out on that when you demanded equal rights.” Where was this guy coming from? What kind of upbringing makes a person think this way? Even if it were someone of the male gender sitting out there, waiting for their wave, I would have thought to let him go too. Because it’s a kick seeing everyone having a positive experience. The fact that you’re out there only looking to satisfy your needs takes about 99% of that cute and turns it ugly – eeew! When I mentioned the incident to my surfer Aunty she noted with her acute wisdom, “His comment was made to justify his ego.” Mmm, hmmm. No worries, I’ll find something else more worthy of my distraction between sets.

So, dude, go ahead and catch your waves; be deluded by the idea you have allowance for insolence because of things like the…“ERA”?! But remember this, we don’t need you to give us waves, what we’d like is for you to just chill out and not take our waves. Some girls go there, but not all wahines want to become aggressive jerks just to be able to surf, especially on mellow, uncrowded days when we can all afford to be gracious, flowing, laughing, deserving, enjoying, thankful for the ability to experience and share the fun.

Now…if the Dalai Lama were a surfer, what would he do? :) “Be kind whenever possible…It is always possible.”

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guitar surfWhen the waves are going off, like really going off, I always have the same song in my head. It’s not a song I ever, ever listen to or sing while on land. Actually, I don’t really know the words. It’s more like playing air guitar. I’m paddling out, huge waves slamming me. Then out in the line-up, waiting for the set, sitting on my board headbanging – and I’m not a headbanger. I don’t know exactly what my connection with the song is, and frankly I lean more punk rock when opting for pumping up the adrenaline before going out on a big day. It’s kinda a vengeful song, from what I know. Maybe I’m getting agro about the longboarders. Maybe the rippers are doing that thing where they paddle up to me, say “hi”, while maneuvering that one foot deeper and taking the wave I’ve been waiting for – “Yeah, hi fugger!” But usually, I think it’s when I’m just so excited, there’s so much energy out there, and it is like the ocean is the rippling effect of intense roar and rage and exhilaration; Ozzy going off live in front of a stadium crowd: Ba da, ba da da, badabadabadababadada. I Am Ironman!!!

I wonder if Kelly Slater ever finds himself hummin’ that lil’ diddy while scoring Backdoor with the boys? Better that tune then some of the ridiculous ones that burrow their way into my mind, like on weird goofy days with time between sets. For one long period (which I hope has passed), it was the negro slave romp “Jimmy Crack Corn and I don’t care, Jimmy Crack Corn and I don’t care, Jimmy Crack Corn and I don’t CAAARRREEE, my master’s gone a-way!” Now what does that have to do with surfing? I have no idea what it even means! When where why how would that song ever come to mind in my day-to-day life, nevermind while surfing?surf girl playboy

I even get nursery rhymes some times. Does that only happen to girls? Well, a guy wouldn’t admit it if it happened to them anyway…. It’s usually a sunny day. A little bit sleepy. The rolling movement of the water rocking me like a baby I suppose. What’s most embarrassing is when you realize you’re singing aloud.

Songs that equate female empowerment enter in and out of my limited rotation. YeahYeahYeahs singer is trying hard to penetrate. I had an awful rendition of Corinne Bailey Rae‘s “Girl Put Your Records On” going for a while there. You know, the freedom a young girl feels, alone her room, dancing to her own tunes – finding herself someway, somehow…. Perchance the mood relates to the ever increasing number of surfin’ wahines; their independence, their strength, their finding themselves out there, in the water…. Girl put your surf wax on, shred to your favorite song, go ahead let your hair down….

When my friend Christine paddles out, it’s impossible to ignore the song with her namesake. She’s a blond hottie surfer mom – presumably the absolute antithesis of the “Christine” in the lyrics (supposedly a woman suffering from D.I.D.). You know, “Christine, the strawberry girl, Christine, banana-split lady… Now she’s in purple, now she’s the turtle… disintegrating… Christine…”. I have met Siouxsie Sioux (of Siouxsie and the Banshees – the song’s creator) on a number of occasions. One thing about Siouxsie is that she lives up to her goth-queen moniker, including the fact that she is practically deathly afraid of the sun. I recall on one of her visits to Los Angeles, my friends took her to the beach. When I heard that, I couldn’t stop laughing, because logically it would seem the last place on earth you would bring her! She complained about it and isiouxsiets effects on her pearly white skin ’til her concert started that night! So all that to say, singing to her lyrics while basking in the equator-strong sun is kind of a contradiction of credence. Perhaps the sea turtle -who are in large number where we surf- is some symbolic clue as to an abstruse water connection….

The past few weeks, I’ve really worried myself. Too many 2-4 foot days in a row. The kind where it’s hard to keep oneself entertained, I mean, after the prerequisite morning spiel, “Oh, it’s so beautiful today… so glassy… water feels so nice…” (which it is most of the days here, and what I love is that no one seems to take it for granted!). Those are the kind of days you end up shouting and laughing and cheering people on just to keep yourself pumped. And then, without warning, this weird bad dance club “Ooooowuuh oooooowuh” comes out of my mouth. Huh? What was that?! “Ooooowuh Oooowuh!” Oh, no, I did it again. Sometimes mixed in with an embarrassing gyro dance move that should have been banned along with the Macarena. I know Laird would never do that out in the water…never!

My ex used to blast Eminem to amp up (though perhaps he didn’t need much help in that department). I like Afghan Whigs‘ “66″ whenever I drive to or from the beach. Butthole Surfers‘ “Summer in the City” certainly ranks. Sometimes Babyshambles‘ “Fuck Forever” sources my ocean relationship. The Strokes and Killers and Mando Diao and Raconteurs can even be mutable on the right day. Weezer‘s more surf than bubblegum pop “Surf Wax America” should become a classic pre-session tune (“Island in the Sun” for the longboard days). Fugazi‘s “Waiting Room” continues to facilitate sentimental angst. Operation Ivy, Rancid or Offspring and other pop-punk loud when you’re gonna be competing with da shredders. Even the Adolescents and that era So. Cal hardcore still does it for me. There’s always the requisite Jack or Pepper or Matisyahu or Sublime or Spearhead or Groundnation or any Marley or even Jawaiian to calibrate the flowing water vibe…. (Shhh, yes, sometimes a peaceful silence works as well or the simple sound of crashing waves).

ironman black sabbathThough there is a great history of surf music (classic and otherwise), these aren’t the songs that end up in extended remix on my internal iPod. And since it resides somewhere similar to the realm of wayward dreams, I fear I may never be able to control the click wheel of my mind. So ultimately, I must look forward to the cherry days that are double over-head not only because they’re so dang fun, but because I would certainly rather be hearing anything Black Sabbath than “Jimmy Crack Corn” while going for a heavy airdrop over the reef. Ba da, ba da da, badabadabadababadada! Siiiiick!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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