Joel Fitzgerald, Derek Hynd, Glen Casey, Rhian Slapp, and Matt Draper give their two cents on the shark debate.
Viewing entries in
Shark attack survivor Dave Pearson shares his story.
Why the increase of shark activity on the Australian east Coast? We ask two scientists.
Understanding the Apex
Part 3 - Brooke's story.
By Brooke Mason - Surfer
Tasmanian surfer Brooke Mason had been living in Byron and was in the water next to Tadashi Nakahara on the morning of his attack.
Tadashi had just got barrelled right in front of me about five minutes before the attack, and I claimed it for him “yewwww!”. He was a super smiley guy and a good surfer I remember thinking he really kicks out his back foot on his turns and that's what I was trying to do. It was sunny and super fun, consistent surf with enough waves for everyone and there was hardly anyone out. I was just pinching myself thinking this place is heaven.
I watched Tadashi get dragged under about 20 meters from me, in a lull between the sets…He didn't make a sound just looked shocked and went under. I thought he initially went under for a swim, but his board had gone too and then there was all this blood. I got on my board with my arms and legs up in the air and was frozen to the spot. I told myself “if he comes up I'll go over there” but everything in my body was paralysed and I was just looking at the blood and the bubbles.
He didn't come up and I looked around me and everyone was paddling in super quietly and with as little splashing possible and I followed them until I was in waist deep water and looked around and one really brave guy was dragging Tadashi in. I took the guy next to me's board and he went to help them. I could see that Tadashi had lost his legs so I got the leg ropes off both boards to tourniquet his legs. Paddling in I was just waiting for it (the shark) to chomp my legs; it felt like a war zone and like everyone was going to die. I couldn't believe it when everyone was there at the beach and the bad luck for Tadashi that the shark happened to go for him. I've imagined the whole thing a million times and how many different ways it could have ended and it just came down to chance.
I haven't surfed Ballina since, it seems like the odds are way too dangerous there at the moment in my head, like a piece of bait, but hopefully that will settle down. I love crowds for the first time in my life! I think I'd prefer snapper with 1,000 people for a while. Something definitely has to be up. I honestly think that yes there are more people in the water but also the sharks are coming in because we have over-fished their ocean and so we give them no choice to come in closer to find a meal. Also with advances in technology you hear about every shark attack in a matter of hours and so it feels like there are more of them but maybe the information is just more accessible.
*Brooke has since returned to her homeland Tasmania where she is studying medicine and continues to surf.
To be continued - Part 4 - The Science.
Follow Switchboard Media on Social Media:
Understanding the Apex
Part 2 - Dustin's story
By Dustin Hollick - Surfer + Writer + Filmmaker
It felt weird to turn around and walk back up the beach with perfect waves rolling through un-ridden in the background. The back of my wetsuit was sweaty from standing on the hot sand for an abnormally long amount of time.
The helicopter hovering overhead had by far the best view of the whole scene. Confused beachgoers milling around the foreshore; a gravel car park full of spectators and two boats. An Aluminum runabout further out and smaller zodiac closer in just behind the breakers.
A deckhand on the small zodiac was throwing a very large baited hook out repeatedly to try and catch the shark that was causing the commotion. The mission was to tag and release. Within 10 minutes the shark was hooked and dragged out to deeper waters to be worked on. I wondered how they would get the hook out…
Even after the shark was hooked and dragged further out to sea I didn’t go out for a surf. And despite the fact I have been surfing regularly and trying to rely on my instincts to warn me of any pre-imminent danger, this was just the latest in a series of events that have caused me to ponder: “just what has changed?”
Of course there are plenty of sharks in the ocean, and yes the area we live in is abundant with marine life, what scientists call a “healthy” part of the ocean. So why, if there is abundant marine life in our corner of ocean here, are surfers, swimmers, and body-boarders suddenly on the menu? I don’t have the answers to this question but there are many theories being put forward.
Personally I will continue surfing, I surfed twice today, and I get too grumpy if I don’t surf. But until we get some answers as to why the sharks are trying to feed on us or about the oceanic climate changes, or until some preventative measures are put in place, I will not let my four and seven-year-old boys surf or swim in the ocean. I believe after my 25 plus years spent in our Earth’s marine environment I should be able to recognize any signs of danger and react in time; if not my life has been amazing and I have no regrets. But to see a young child get mauled would not be a good thing at all. It’s sad that the ocean in this area has lost its innocence for so many beach goers; I hope we find some solutions soon.
To be continued - Part 3 - Tadashi's attack from the eyes of Brooke Mason.
Follow Switchboard Media on Social Media:
Recently we published a feature article 'Understanding the Apex' in Japanese surf + lifestyle magazine: BLUE.
The issue has been so well received in Japan, so we're going to share it with you in a blog-series here on The Switchboard Network blog.
We took on the piece after Angie witnessed the death of Tadashi Nakahara from a bite sustained to both legs whilst surfing here in Lennox Head/Ballina. The article was a way for us to search for answers on the blow-up of shark activity here on the north-east coast of Australia, and collate a number of opinions and science on the subject. We welcome your comments and opinions below.
Understanding the Apex
Part 1 - Angie's story.
By Angie Davis - Surfer + Writer + Filmmaker
The sun had well and truly risen when I arrived to the top car park at Speeds, in East Ballina, after dropping my kids at school and day care. It was one of those memorable end-of-summer mornings, where the sun is shining bright and the only wind a moderate offshore helping head-high clean peeling A-frames reel in over the shallow reef and adjacent sand banks. Instead of going straight to my car boot to get changed, grab my board and head into the surf, I couldn’t help but want to nab a quick iPhone photo to throw up on Instagram to tease my followers. When I held my phone up to take a wide shot, I was shocked at what I saw through the lens; what seemed like an injured, unconscious surfer being carried in over the rocks, his head limp between the arms of two male surfers carrying out the apparent rescue.
Adjusting my eyes now to the frantic scene unfolding below, I noticed a trail of blood following the path of the rescue attempt and saw the injured surfer’s legs were missing from above the knee. Horrified, I knew instantly the cause of the injury, a shark attack. As I ran down to the shore other surfers were screaming out to call an ambulance, which I did as the surfers finally got the victim to the beach, with others pulling off their leg ropes to tourniquet the victim’s legs in an attempt to stop the bleeding. The group rallied together and CPR was started immediately, while I stayed on the phone to the ambulance urgently requesting their assistance at the scene.
Just metres away, innocent young families who had been out basking in the sun and frolicking in the adjacent natural rock pools were witnessing something not quite short of a horror film. It took a good half hour for the ambulance to arrive, and as the team of brave surfers continued with revival attempts I began to familiarize myself with the lifeless face lying on the beach at our feet…Tadashi Nakahara.
Tadashi was well known in the community, a friend of my ex-husband’s, and someone I had shared fun waves with in the past. A hard worker who always wore a warm smile, Tadashi was respected in and out of the water and his death rocked the community. For those of us at the scene, we would each take that day into our nightmares.
I personally tried to view the day as a one-off, very unlucky “wrong time wrong place” incident, but as the months went on and our local waters were tainted with more shark attacks, it became apparent that the surf was not as safe as we hoped, and changes in our local environment were resulting in a massive increase of sharks, particularly Great Whites, and encounters with humans. In an attempt to understand what is going on, I decided to chat with a number of local surfers to gauge their opinions, and correlate professional data and research from shark experts and marines scientists. The result is this feature, which I hope will shed some light on our current marine environment here in Byron, Lennox Head and Ballina, and a greater understanding of Great Whites and their behavioural patterns.
*Out of respect we have chosen not to publish a photograph of Tadashi Nakahara. We remember him in our hearts as a positive, cheerful, enthusiastic member of the community. His last wave on this Earth was a barrel.
Follow Switchboard Media on Social Media:
Markets are generally the domains of hippies and trinket merchants that want nothing better than to lighten your wallet. Or so I thought. As what could be classified as a fairly modest consumer, I never really had an urge to go to the local market. Under the guise of supporting partner has been the only exception, with the only purchase I ever indulged in being that of the instant gastronomical type.
As a somewhat concerned earth/human race survivalist, I try and make conscious decisions that will have a less detrimental effect on future generations. But, as with most of us, my brain wasn’t connecting the dots on several tiers regarding the excessive packaging and ridiculous amounts of transportation that your every day trip to the grocery store encourages.
Introducing my next-door neighbor Rhian Slapp, and his weekly ritual of grocery shopping at the local Farmers' Market, followed by a cuppa at the local cafe, where he sits and drinks his brew in an actual cup - farewell the throwaway!
Now on a simple level local market shopping (and a non-throwaway coffee!) is fantastic in that it reduces packaging. Simply take a basket or grab a cardboard box and pop the fresh produce straight in there; no need for styrofoam or plastic wrapping. Transportation is as simple as the diesel it took to drive the trusty old rattler down the hill; no extravagant freight liners or massive semis involved here.
But at a deeper level there is something else that seems to be increasingly lost from modern society: face-to-face interaction with other human beings. Not your boss, your family or your direct peers, but strangers from all walks of life. And here is the really shocking part, to acquire your goods you will have to talk to them! You may even find you exchange knowledge, and this is not only the case at the Farmers' Market, but across all local transactions, whether it be getting a book from the library, or picking up a new hand-crafted surfboard.
Increasingly our transactions are being carried out online. Shopping, health-checks even friendships are now primarily achieved in Cyber Space. Believe this isn’t so? According to The Public Relations Institute Of Australia, “Australians spend one in five minutes (3.6 hours) a day on social media”.
But we do have the ability to decide otherwise. Choose with your feet and make the connection between the excessive greed that drives the increasingly destructive and influential multi nationals of the world, and instead support you local community. Head to your local market, go and see the surfboard shaper down the street, pop into you local timber yard, or say "hi" to the local seamstress.
In return for keeping the cash in your local community you will be rewarded with intimate knowledge of a product the vendor is passionate about, and you'll be contributing toward rebuilding the trust and accountability that cannot be garnered online.
Meditation and mindfulness are beautiful concepts becoming more readily accepted in the West. Take a look at any child engrossed in play and you will see meditation and/or mindfulness in its purest form; the child is totally immersed in the moment taking in every sight, sound, taste, touch and feel as it unfolds. These children live purely for the moment, are learning at an exponential rate, and most importantly, they are having fun.
As adults, our time of living in the moment seems to have come and gone, unless of course we are sitting quietly in a corner with our eyes closed or perhaps playing sport or performing music at the highest level. So why is it that we don’t run around in paddocks anymore flinging cow dung at each other, or spend hours wistfully staring at an abstract painting we are creating, tongue placed gracefully aside our mouths?
The answer, in short, is simple: we don’t have the time. Why don’t we have the time? Because we need to make money. Why do we need to make money? To survive… Or do we?
Since when did we need to make money to survive?
If you are Australian resident one only need look back 200 years to a time when money didn’t exist. Sure there may have been some form of bartering between tribes or a value assigned to certain objects that gave it worth above others, but money as we know it was not the driving factor around which every decision was based.
In contemporary society, every election campaign and result is based around money, so-called ‘environmental’ companies still have money as their bottom line, and consumerist advertising is based around companies aiming to make more money. Our whole world is obsessed with money, this thing that more recently doesn’t even exist in a physical form – merely numbers on a computer screen - yet has the power to push us to perform treacherous deeds, drive species to extinction, and even slaughter our neighbors just for a little more.
Doesn’t sound like much fun does it? So how does a planet so obsessed with money go back to realizing the value of fun?
In July 2011, the United Nations passed Resolution 65/309 (adopted unanimously by the General Assembly in July 2011), placing ‘happiness’ on the global development agenda.
So does this mean the rulers of the world may finally be realizing that profit should not only have to be measured in terms of monetary gain? Lets hope so. Personally I can’t see too many wars breaking out over reserves of ‘fun’ or ‘happiness’ and I can’t imagine any country invading another so they had more resources to create more ‘fun’, in its purest form.
So here is my vote to happiness becoming the new global currency. On a local scale, let’s strive towards fun; take the time to have a laugh with your neighbor, surrender to the moment, be the butt of someone else’s joke. Happiness is one thing that will not drive the world, as we know it, to extinction.