Seven Jedi Mind Tricks that can Save Your Crappy Session

By: Shawna Baruh

The best surfer is the one having the most fun, right? What if the waves suck or you suck or some punk keeps dropping in on you–still having fun?
Here are seven Jedi mind tricks that can help you have a great time, even when you have all the reason not to:IMG_8320

1. Set Low Expectations

We’ve all heard that surfer in the line-up screaming profanities at themselves when they blow it on a wave. They are not having a good time. Don’t be in a one-man contest. No matter what the conditions are, if your only goal is to strengthen your paddle and catch a mediocre wave, then you are more likely to have fun. The pressure is off at that point. I usually do this if the conditions are terrible. Once I make my session only about ‘paddling and exercise,’ any wave I get is a bonus.

2. When the Inevitable Quarrel Arises…

Don’t fight back. If your goal is to have a pleasant session, any altercation is going to bring you down. People are going to be assholes. And for some reason, it’s double-time in the water. Even if they are wrong, you are better off paddling away. I’m speaking from experience of doing the opposite. I have tried talking about it calmly and defending myself. It never works. Let the assholes be assholes while you keep your stoke.

3. Turn Crap into Gold

Ouch. Surfer at Wedge about to eat his breakfast...in sand and sea water.

When I do have an altercation in the water, I try to put my fragile ego aside and think ‘what can I learn from this?’ As cliché as it sounds, it can be powerful.
For example: while longboarding I saw a set wave and started to paddle for it. There wasn’t a person near the peak and I was closer than anyone else. As I paddled towards it, I noticed a guy paddle-battling me from behind for the same wave. I was closer to begin with and in position for priority, so I stayed my course, got to it first, as expected, and caught the wave.
As I took off, he screamed at me. I paddled back to him and asked him why he yelled at me. He told me to “Fuck Off” and then paddled away. The next wave I caught, he screamed at me as I got up, again. I kicked out of the wave and I asked him again what the hell his problem was. He said I was  “catching too many waves.”
Before this, I was having a mellow session. It was not crowded, the surf was 2-3 feet and fun. I was catching a lot of waves, but I wasn’t burning anyone. I tried staying calm while attempting to talk to him about it, but all he wanted to do was fight. I paddled away and tried to ignore him, but the damage was done. I was no longer having fun.
So, I asked myself “Could I give more waves away?” Maybe I could let some go by every now and then. At that point, I decided during every session, I would give away waves, for no reason other than ‘just because.’ It has been incredible. People are so thankful and approach me in the parking lot to give thanks. It has raised the quality of my sessions like I never thought it would.
So, to the assholes out there – I will turn your shit into gold and have an even better time. :)

4. Break the Silence

Epic tales of uncrowded points, sketchy roads...and bodily functions, of course.

Breaking silence and beer caps in Baja.

It’s okay to talk to strangers. Compliment someone on a nice wave, ask a question about their board or introduce yourself. You’ll be surprised how many surfers are open to conversation.
Drop “yews” on anyone getting an exceptional wave, or express your ‘stoke’ for the beginner you just saw make a break through. Remember what it felt like to catch your first wave? Pour some gasoline on that fire and pass the positivity around. It’s a great way to ensure that no one looks at you with aggro vibes and you will be less likely to get them back.

5. Get a Foamie

Once you take out a foamie, the only real goal is to try to have the most fun out of anyone in the lineup; it’s like being a kid again,” said Professional Longboarder Christian Stutzman. Christian has placed in longboard contests up and down the California coast, including winning the National Surfing Scholastic Association State College Longboard title in 2016. He also placed third in the noseride divisions of the Guy Takayama Pro. He is no beginner.
So, when I saw him driving around town with his foam board I had to ask.
“I love surfing foamies because they give me the freedom to just surf without any pressure, and it lets me have fun on any wave–big or small.” If you see Christian on his yellow foam board with a giant neon pink plastic fin, you can pretty much guess he  is having the most fun. And he just might invite you in on a party wave.

6. Get Better

Kelly Slater throws some spray at the 2012 Hurley Pro at Lower Trestles. Photo: Jackie Connor

Kelly Slater gets better…and better…and better…

In direct contrast to my foamie advice, another way to have fun is to get better. Pick one skill to work on and make it a practice session. Since surfing has one of the longest learning curves of any sport, you should expect to get only slightly better at said skill with each session, if you’re lucky. Upgrade your shuffle to a cross step or work on ditching the bottom turn during your takeoff and set a line. It feels good to be working at something out of your normal bag of tricks and even better when you master it.

7. If it still sucks…

IMG_9346If you are still having a bad session, then decide the universe is conspiring against you and just yield knowing there are better days ahead.

About the Author

D3S_1825_favShawna Baruh grew up in Western Massachusetts and in her early twenties moved to Cape Cod. There she learned to surf in the Northeast’s frigid waters and the joys of a 5mm wetsuit. She split her time between Cape Cod and Boston and earned a BFA in photography from the Art Institute of Boston. Her new love for surfing brought her to Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Puerto Rico and Mexico in search of adventures and new waves. After graduating college, she decided it was time to move herself to warmer waters. She and her dog trekked across the country and landed in San Diego where she still lives today. She appreciates the warm weather and water like a true New Englander and firmly believes that sunny days are meant to be enjoyed outdoors. She is currently a marketing consultant, photographer and a proud Mother of a toddler and two teenage step-children.

The Top Three Eco-Friendly Wetsuits

Winter is coming…

No really, winter IS coming and so are the chilly waters of the North Pacific.

It’s that time of year when the wind kicks up to offshore mornings and onshore afternoons and west/northwest swells cool down the water, much to the tourists dismay. A time where kelp forests become bushier and the fish escape to warmer waters–it’s wetsuit season!

Yay??

All things in this picture are necessary in Humboldt, Calif.

Among the plethora of brands, almost all of them come with a signature flex, feel and performance level. But what some might consider, as of late, is the touted term “eco-friendly.”

I originally wanted to find seven companies, but had to whittle it down to five that I thought used eco-friendly materials. BUT- based on my searching and many inquiries, I could only find three wetsuit companies who’s materials are eco-friendly.

Ironically, many of the products we use as surfers are, in fact, NOT good for the environment and yet, we have been cached into a ‘hippy-esque’ category. Everything from our sunscreen, to our surfboards and even our wetsuits somewhere down the processing line has a negative effect on our environment…until the last five years.

Eco-friendly is the new black and many marketing and branding campaigns have fallen into step with this attractive trend. There’s a lot to be said about this most hashtagged term when it comes to our marine environment and personal health.

But what does that mean when it comes to wetsuits?

To sum it up, wetsuit materials are most commonly comprised of closed cell neoprene, which basically translates to foam rubber. Their materials and processing tends to have an impact on the environment, and, thankfully, more surf and dive companies have been incorporating more environmentally-friendly processing and products into their suits.

Below are my top three wetsuits, which I based on overall production/processing and materials, wallet-friendly price and surfable functionality.

 

Patagonia

Patagonia's Yulex wetsuit

Patagonia’s Yulex wetsuit

Based In: Ventura, California

Mission: Build the best product, cause no unnecessary harm, use business to inspire and implement solutions to the environmental crisis.

Price Range: $129-$500

About: What started as a small company that made climbing tools is now one of the household names for environmentally-minded products for a wide range of outdoor activities like climbing, surfing, snowboarding, fly fishing and trail running. Patagonia’s goal, as a whole, is to reduce if not eliminate, pollution as a by-product of their business. They have successfully created a wetsuit by replacing non-renewable neoprene with a plant-based polymer, Yulex, a natural rubber from heva trees, which reduces CO2 emissions by 80 percent.

 

Picture

Photo Courtesy: Picture Organic Clothing

Photo Courtesy: Picture Organic Clothing

Based In:  France

Mission: Organic, recycled and bio-sourced products since 2009. The best possible environmentally-friendly and unique product designs that stand out for fresh colors and valued for good quality.

Price Range: $48.93-$352.88
*I did the math & converted euros to dollars–does not include shipping*

About: Their entire brand is dedicated to second-life and end-of-life products, which ranges from clothing, snowboard and skateboard gear and now, wetsuits and surf gear. It all started with their first recycled polyester boardshorts collection, which was derived from their snowboard outerwear and grew into European & international distribution, which includes the United States. Worried about carbon footprints? There’s an app for that, of course. Picture also has a carbon footprint calculator that allows you to trace your own impact when you buy their products.

There are currently no shops in the U.S. that offer this wetsuit brand right now. So, if you are interested in purchasing a suit, you might have to google around. In 2018 Picture’s clothing will be available in Confluence Kayak in Denver and Moose Joe and Paragon Sports in New York.

Everything is priced in Euros and don’t panic when you see a comma for pricing…it typically means a decimal. :)

Here’s a site that sells Picture Organic Clothing.

 

Vissla

ECOSEAS-DETAIL-3

Photo Courtesy: Vissla

Based In: Aliso Viejo, California

Mission: Advanced environmentally conscious materials designed and constructed for colder water.

Price Range: $99.95-$595.95

Just so you know: Vissla only offers wetsuits for men, for now. For ladies, their sister company, Amuse Society, features women’s suits and beach clothing, but the suits are not considered ‘environmentally-friendly,’ yet.

About: Vissla is a forward-thinking company who bases their designs and concepts around creative freedom–“a surf-everything, ride-anything mentality.” In terms of wetsuit-ery, they offer four different lines: 7 Seas, North Seas, Eco Seas and Premium Japanese. The Eco Seas wetsuit rubber is harvested from the rubber tree as opposed to neoprene and instead of solvent-based glues, Vissla uses a water-based glue that is completely solvent-free. Recycled plastic bottles serve as their interior and exterior jerseys–each wetsuits uses 45 recycled bottles.

Time of the Month: What Every Surfer Guy (and Gal) Should Know-PERIOD.

SC graffiti sign

Since the upsetting shark attack that occurred on April 29th at San Onofre’s Church break, there have been rumors circulating the lineup that the estimated 9-11-foot shark might have been drawn to the unsuspecting gal because she was on her period.

 All jokes and assumptions aside, no factual evidence was discovered, not even a drop.

In fact–read Surfline’s exclusive interview with the recovering victim here.

And since I’ve heard this hilarious rumor, most of the guys I happen to surf around seemingly shift their locations further away from me, which is great if I’m waiting for waves at the peak.

Hmmm, maybe I’ll finally paddle out to Lowers this summer. :D

[Paddles out to Lowers and yells in womanly agony: “Oh mah gah, these CRAMPS!!”]

While surfing at Salt Creek this past May, I not only noticed that everyone was huddled unusually close together at the peak, but I also noted that the topic of conversation was primarily about our infamous grey-suited landlord. Everyone’s ears seemed to perk up as each news development surfaced about the recent attack while a coast guard helicopter patrolled overhead.

Each person’s shifty eyes would widen as I paddled closer to the peak, until someone approached me mid-conversation and blurted:

“You notice how all of the attacks are on women? It’s because they’re on their period,” he jokingly said. “I’d not surf here if I were you. You could be putting everyone at risk.”

UM-what?

OH yes, my very educated friend, it’s true. Every woman you see in the lineup is just constantly bleeding–we are nothing more than swimming/paddling/surfing chum machines, and are using the ocean as our personal maxi pad. We purposefully decide to park it by you in hopes that one day our ocean animal friends will seek and destroy you, mwahahahahaha.

I CONFESS: In the middle of my dark inner monologue and lonely three foot bubble, I began to wonder…is it true? Does a woman’s fun “time of the month” necessarily attract sharks? I mean, we all have to wonder and at some point, I know we all HAVE wondered this borderline sexist thought.

“This is a misconception that a drop of blood drives sharks from miles away into a feeding frenzy,” said Dr. Chris Lowe, professor of marine biology and director of California State University-Long Beach’s Shark Lab. “Everybody who is in the water is exuding  many of the same amino acids that are found in blood. It doesn’t matter if you’re a man or woman, whether you’re having your period or not, you’re exuding many of the same compounds that a shark can detect.”

BOOM. Put that one to rest!  Dr. Lowe was recently featured in my piece: “Canary in the Coal Mine: Increase in Great White Shark Population is a GOOD Sign for Southern California

In addition to our male/female bodily …functions (?) being pretty much equal in the water, Dr. Lowe points out quantity, in this case, is also a factor to consider.

“The amount of blood a woman exudes during her period is miniscule,” said Dr. Lowe. “It’s not nearly enough to put an animal into that kind of feeding mode. So that’s very different from somebody who has a severe cut and is putting lots of blood into the water.”

Pictured is a juvenile great white shark off of Manhattan Beach. Photo credit: Cal State Long Beach Shark lab

Pictured is a juvenile great white shark off of Manhattan Beach.
Photo credit: Cal State Long Beach Shark lab

Additionally, menstrual blood is not really considered real “blood” that sharks interested in. According to Popular Science’s No, menstrual blood does not attract sharks, in addition to a shark like a great white’s ability to detect a trace amount of blood in only 100 liters of water (1/25,000th of an Olympic swimming pool!), even when sharks are snouting about, they are interested in marine mammal blood and guts–not ours.

Although it’s pretty inconclusive about what exactly sharks are inclined to attack in general, sharks have been documented to prefer sound instead of sight or smell, according to National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Northeast Fishery Science Center (NEFSC). For millions of years, sharks have been programmed to detect struggling prey and movement. Colors also play a role in a shark’s interest and there is a specific attraction to silver, white and yellow–the same colors as a shark’s prey.

I recall my friend Sean paddling out to a break in Humboldt–often known for it’s cold, rainy and sharky conditions. Shark encounters are more frequent near this area, as it’s located just north of the “Red Triangle” and instead of baby great white sharks, they get the big guys from our nightmares. Not quite megalodon proportions, but if you were to tell me marine biologists discovered one in this region, it wouldn’t surprise me.

Much like the topography, most whites cruising the Northern California coast are much much larger because they can handle the colder water temps, although, they do prefer the more temperate waters, such as most of the Californian, Australian and South African coastlines. In fact, fully developed great whites are warm bodied, so they can adjust to water temperatures.

Humboldt Redwood forests galore! Try to find the hobbit in this picture.

Humboldt Redwood forests galore!

After my friend paddled out to aforementioned peak, a girl approached him in a panic and announced:

“I’m on my period!! Am I going to get attacked by a shark??”

I picture my salty friend rolling his eyes after this comment, maybe even chuckling a little.

To conclude: If you’re on the rag, it does not mean you or you’re surfing/swimming buddies are on the menu.

Seven Things That Will Help You Embrace Your Inner Surf Geek

In the days of old, the word “geek” hardly applied to the buff, bronzed and bitchin’ club that are surfers. However, thanks to many technological advancements, the surf community can now officially “geek out” with the rest of ’em.

Need a jumping off point? Here are seven items that will send you down the rabbit hole to geekdom–pocket protectors not included:wsl_logo

 

1. Join World Surf League’s Fantasy Surfer Create or join the wide-world of fantasy surf leagues.
This is where your supposed ‘extensive knowledge’ on the pro scene shows–so put up or shut up! Stuck behind a desk and several computer monitors all day? Put your browser on ‘in cognito’ mode and join, if you dare. If you have fellow aqua-junkie co-workers, start a private league and feel the froth on a daily, hourly and/or heat-by-heat basis. Wage wars, place bets, discuss Adriano’s board dims and the swell direction while sacrificing a proverbial goat to the WSL gods to dominate your league. The ultimate surf geek knows his shit in this arena–between wildcards, player injuries, swell angles and board shapes, there are so many factors to consider, besides, oh yea, WORK.

May the odds ever be in your favor.

 

 

2. Stalk Swell Charts
Capture…And swell angles for days. Swell direction and angles are tricky to decipher and when you throw bathymetry into the mix, uncovering that secret spot’s epic days can become an exact science. It takes some research, a little trial-and-error and patience. If you reeeeeally want to geek out, sign up for an oceanography course at your local community college. Soon you will be speaking in educated surfer tongues to your buddies in the lineup, muttering phrases like “It’s all about the 270 degrees out of the west, but only if there is a deep high tide that peaks at 12:51pm…” If they don’t realize it at first, they will soon understand that you are, indeed, actually SANE once that sneaker canyon set pops up at Blacks and all but you were caught inside.

Here are some great resources to get ya started:

 

3. Become a Surf Film BuffIMG_0233

Begin with Bruce Brown’s cult classic film “The Endless Summer” or the 1987 favorite “North Shore” where Arizona wave pool surfer Rick Kane becomes a Hawaiian Pipe pro in the less than a month.

Enter: bottomless chasm of surf flicks

To state the obvious: your tastes largely depend on what you enjoy doing in the water. It’s a right of passage if you can stomach Hollywood’s damning stereotypes, too. From the 1960’s classic films to a generation defined by the movie “Momentum,” to hippie-esque Moonshine Conspiracy works like “Thicker Than Water,” to Dane Reynold’s abstract artsy fartsy films like “Modern Collective,” among many MANY other nitty gritty Volcom surf punk flicks that play on repeat at your local bars and surf shops–You can spend a good chunk of your life staring at backside hacks on slo-mo, if you haven’t already. YouTube is also another great resource to hunt for sick clips.

Just don’t forget to score some real tubes.

 

4. Read BooksHellllooo, homework!

Pick up a wha-? Before you send smoke signals out of your ears, relax. This is not your 9th grade English/Lit class. These are stories that you will actually enjoy reading and, maybe, recommend to your guys or gals. Once I picked up a surf book, they were very hard to put down…I’ve never been a very passionate reader, but this genre hit a major nerve. The next thing I knew, I had a bookshelf comprised of novels aside from the garden variety of  dusty Victorian literature that served as my doorstop/natural sleep aid in college.

Shortly after this discovery, my college essays became very interesting, I took a script writing class and excelled–And! Books in general became more enjoyable….even those Victorian snooze aids.

A few recommends, on my behalf:

5. Read Surfer Comic Books & Social Media 

Funny-Surfing-Meme-I-Find-Your-Lack-Of-Waves-Disturbing-PhotoYES–they exist. As if a surfer’s life couldn’t be more customized according to this aqua obsession, we also have comics for surfers. If you’ve ever picked up a Surfer Mag between 1986 and 2006, you would have seen Wilbur Kookmeyer, an infamous blonde-haired buck-toothed boy kooking out via comic strip form. If comic books are your bag, start collecting Surfer Mags and watch Wilbur Kookmeyer’s wacky adventures unfold.

Memes are also not too far off from being sometimes hilarious.

AND! Robin Lanei, a really rad artist gal, is a must to follow on Insta. Her art’s messages will often leave me in stitches on a daily. Follow her: @robinlanei_art

 

 

6. Attend A ‘Boardroom’ Show

 Want to talk for hours to the professionals behind the board logos? Chat with those who have been working the foam and resin for the past decade about your

Terry template

thoughts on single fin/quad setups, how hand-shaping boards is a dying art (‘merica!), the evolution of the thruster, foam density, tails, that lingering 1/8 of an inch that gave you wobbles down the face of that one wave on that epic day…you get the drift. Canoodle with some pros and high profile shapers, like Al Merrick and those crazies at …Lost.  If you are a board shaping connoisseur, this is your Comic-Con.

Go forth, my surf geeks and let your froth be steady and right!

 

7. Get a Wetsuit for Every Water Temp

You would have absolutely no excuse to ever be out of the water, unless there was some kind of sewage spill or shark sighting. Even then, I’ve seen surfers chill in the lineup at Uppers while a 12-foot grey-suited landlord breaches right in front of the lot or score a filthy looking barrel at Newport’s River Jetties right after a rain–and I’m talking about brownish barrel cover-ups. YUCK. It’s your choice to bathe in hydrogen peroxide or surf with a steel cage. Although shark attacks are extremely rare (see my previous article), MRSA ain’t. Save the “filthy” verbiage for barrel exaggerations.

All things in this picture are necessary in Humboldt, Calif.

All two real excuses aside, no matter the condition, you are out there in the water–well-suited and ready to catch waves or shake hands with aforementioned landlord before he collects rent. There are suits for all shapes, sizes, budgets, and creative requirements. You can geek out for days Japanese rubber or laugh hysterically at the latest literal version of a wetSUIT and it’s price tag–> (see: Thom Browne’s $3,900 designer wetsuit ).

From a cool summer breeze fit for a wetsuit top to trekking through snowfall in your 6 mil, Vaseline covering your face…you come prepared.

Canary in the Coal Mine: Increase in Great White Shark Population is a GOOD Sign for Southern California

All photos courtesy of California State University-Long Beach’s Shark Lab.

All photos courtesy of California State University-Long Beach's Shark Lab.

Dr. Chris Lowe releases a juvenile white shark after successfully affixing a “smart tag” on its dorsal fin. 

As surfers and aqua/nature junkies, our interaction with the ocean and it’s wildlife plays a huge role in our peace of mind. If you’re any kind of nature enthusiast, you know that the ocean can be a serene place that can quickly turn into your worst nightmare. But once you choose to recognize both sides of this personality coin, the “Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde” aspect is seemingly understood and accepted.

The bottom line is: No matter who you are or what you do, mother nature always schools us. ALWAYS.

Great white sharks are one of the most mysterious and evolved predators on the planet and, despite the overblown hype (read “Hollywood”), we know so little about their lives beneath the waves. Sharks are always lurking in the back of our minds, our thoughts fashioned by Hollywood’s wildest Sharknado fantasy. As of late, Southern California has acquired quite a bit of ‘shark media’ due to a tragic collision with our grey-suited landlord doing it’s “shark thing” and a young lady at San Onofre’s Church break doing her “human thing.”

{Read: Surfline’s exclusive interview with her here.}

Through the whispers of sightings that circulated our lineup gossip combined with mainstream media salivating over chunks of info/news leads, I craved scientific explanation and education.

A real encounter, much less an actual attack on a human is extremely rare…until recently, I thought.

After the attack, beach closures ensued every other day, surf reports included the latest shark spottings along with the shark’s observed behavior, lifeguard boats and coastguard helicopters constantly combed the coastline, and surf lineups became an uneasy, quieter and more vigilant space. The fear of great white sharks exploded into the public’s conscious as what felt like a scene from JAWS.

I CONFESS: for a hot minute, surfing in San Clemente felt like visiting Amity Island for the Fourth of July.

The difference being that no one is actually “lining up to be a hot lunch.”

The April 29th attack at San Onofre conveyed a logical and obvious conclusion, which was based on a classic case of mistaken identity that nearly cost the woman her life.

But we forget that for the past 15 million years, this toothy creature has been cruising the ocean as sort of a “clean up crew” doing the same thing it knows best: eat and make little sharks.

But why are we seeing more of our toothy acquaintance??

“It becomes difficult to empirically determine what the great white shark population numbers are,” said Professor, Marine Biology, California State University-Long Beach and The Cal State Long Beach Shark Lab Director Dr. Chris Lowe. “Based on our data, which uses a combination of fishery’s data, marine mammal bite data and human observation, the population is increasing.”

Recently featured on The Discovery Channel’s Shark Week in the  “Sharks and the City: LA” episode, we watched Dr. Lowe observe giant adult great white sharks from a steel cage in the chilly waters off of Guadalupe Island, which is located off of Baja’s Northern coast.

Pictured: Dr. Chris Lowe, professor of marine biology and director of CSULB's Shark Lab. Photo credit: Cal State Long Beach Shark Lab

Pictured: Dr. Chris Lowe, professor of marine biology and director of CSULB’s Shark Lab.

“The sharks in Guadalupe, the sharks in the Farallon Islands and the sharks found along Southern California, at least the ones sampled so far, all show genetic relatedness,” said Dr. Lowe. “Even though adults may go to different feeding aggregation sites, genetically, they’re all quite similar, which means they’re interbreeding. The part we are interested in is whether that population is increasing, stabilizing or decreasing and that gets tricky to determine.”

Let’s rewind to 1994:

Aside from this year supporting a decade of flannel shirts, publicizing the O.J. Simpson murder trials and debuting many many saccharine Disney movies and teen-angsty sitcoms, this was also the year California voters ushered in  Proposition 132, which banned the use of nearshore gill and trammel nets. Primarily used to catch white sea bass, halibut and soup fin sharks, these fishing methods incidentally also caught marine mammals such as sea lions, dolphins and whales.

“Because that fishery had such bad by-catch of marine mammals and birds, it was brought to the voters,” said Dr. Lowe. “Since the banning of that practice, pretty much all of those species have come back, including white sea bass, which was a target in that fishery.”

The prop established a Marine Protected Zone within three miles of coastal Southern California and directed California Fish and Game to establish four new ocean water ecological reserves for marine research, among other items. Coincidentally, after 50 years of baby white sharks being caught and landed in these same nets, not only did Prop 132 come into effect, but also in that same year, great white sharks became protected by the state of California.

“The recovery of sharks and other predators was a collective effort, it wasn’t just protection,” said Dr. Lowe. “The other key part of the white shark’s success is that adult white shark’s primary food source, marine mammals, were also simultaneously recovering.”

Pictured is a juvenile great white shark off of Manhattan Beach. Photo credit: Cal State Long Beach Shark lab

Pictured is a juvenile great white shark off of Manhattan Beach.

However, per Dr. Lowe, these populations have taken decades to recover from otherwise complete depletion via over-fishing and inhumane treatment, which dates back to the early 20th century. These animals did not receive fishing protection until 1972’s Marine Mammal Protection Act, which prohibits the “take” or harm of all marine mammals in U.S. waters. In addition, the Magnuson-Stevens Act, passed in 1976, provided further reform and regulation over the fishing industry. This act fostered long-term biological as well as economic sustainability of U.S. fisheries out to 200 nautical miles offshore–this act also supports fisheries as long as sustainable and biologically-friendly practices are utilized while rebuilding and contributing to back to marine environment.

“As a result, you see a big uptick in pretty much all marine mammals because two things were happening: Our commercial fisheries were going away because fishers could no longer afford to catch fish due to increased regulations and increased fuel costs and these marine mammal populations were really starting to take hold throughout the mid-90’s,” said Dr. Lowe.

Also hailing from the decade of disco were the Clean Water Act of 1972, which gave the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) authority to implement wastewater standards and regulate pollutant discharge in the U.S., and the Clean Air Act of 1970, which was designed to control air pollution on a national level. The Clean Air Act was the first and is also considered to be one of the most influential and comprehensive air quality laws in the world.

“As I started to work my way down the food chain, I realized that despite all of the bad news the public is getting, there are actually some good signs,” said Dr. Lowe. “Many of these species of fish that marine mammals eat are greatly affected by water quality. When I started researching, even our water quality has gotten better over the last years. Additionally, in Southern California, we had some of the worst air quality that existed anywhere in the country. And now our air is cleaner with five times more people and 28 times more cars than it was 10 years ago.”

Despite the unfortunate attack, the fearful rumors and inquiring minds (like yours truly), after decades of regulation and concerted conservation efforts from passionate scientists, organizations and volunteers, great whites are bringing hope to marine biologists and conservationists.

Shark Lab grad student Connor White attaches a PAT tag to a juvenile white shark off of the Ventura coast. Photo credit: Cal State University-Long Beach's Shark Lab

Shark Lab grad student Connor White attaches a PAT tag to a juvenile white shark off of the Ventura coast.

“As I started to look at all of these things, I recognized that some things are getting better,” said Dr. Lowe. “Protection and conservation are actually working, it’s just taking decades to see the affects.”

As we remain vigilant during our surf sessions and interactions with the ocean, it is important to consider and respect who’s home we are entering. Although it’s impossible to predict an attack, pay close attention to basic signs of when to stay out of the water. The Discovery Channel’s 20 Ways to Avoid a Shark Attack is a pretty comprehensive list–it’s also important to listen to your gut.

The same day of the San Onofre attack, I happen to be in San Clemente and, of course, had a surf itch, but no board. After attempting to borrow one from a friend, I resolved to take my time and drive by the San Clemente Pier to check the waves.

I saw the brown murky water with a few crumblers rolling through–Man, it looks sharky, I thought, and decided against meeting my friend at SanO.

Somewhere around the same time this thought ran through my mind, the attack occurred at Church.

Sometimes it’s hard to define “sharky” waters or what your gut tells you, but as the old adage goes: when in doubt, don’t go out.

At the same token, it’s important to not let fear rule your surf sessions. According to The Fisheries Blog’s 10 Things More Likely than a Shark Attack, you have a greater chance of being hit by a comet or, my personal fave, are more likely to be injured by a toilet.

Stick that in your silver screen pipe and smoke it, Hollywood! Ahh, killer toilets!!

Sharks are incredibly necessary to our marine ecosystems and research indicates their presence is, to quote Martha Stewart: “a good thing.” According to Smithsonian Magazine’s What Happens When Predators Disappear, when an apex predator is removed from the food chain, their prey remains unchecked, which can not only cause an increase to the prey population, but it can also have devastating affects on plant life and the surrounding environment, including increases in bacteria and infectious diseases.

Two Shark Lab grad students prepare for an expedition with Dr. Chris Lowe.

Two Shark Lab grad students prepare for an expedition with Dr. Chris Lowe.

“The ‘canary in the coal mine’ for all of this, believe it or not, are the predators,” said Dr. Lowe. “When things at the top of the food chain, like white sharks and sea lions, start to come back, that means the rest of the ecosystem is showing signs of recovery because predators are the most sensitive.”

For more information about California State University’s Shark Lab and its research, click here.

Support marine and wildlife in your local area! Volunteer for coastal cleanups and marine protection observation.

 

Five Things Happening in the Surf World that are NOT the U.S. Open of Surfing

As summer begins to wrap up, it’s that time of year where  the “circus” comes to town to dominate our news feed about all things surf/skate/BMX/party culture related at the 2017 Vans U.S. Open of Surfing.

But this isn’t about that.

Nope.

In case you haven’t noticed, there are other noteworthy happenings circulating the internet in conjunction with the insanely skillful action sports event and it’s games, clothing and salacious body art.

Google fingers, start your engines!

WSL’s New Exec

The World Surf League (WSL) has named Sophie Goldschmidt as their new Chief Executive Officer. According to Surfline.com, Ms. Goldschmidt comes from a mainstream sports background. From the WSL press release:

Goldschmidt joins the WSL from CSM Sport and Entertainment, where she served as Group Managing Director and was responsible for developing and driving new business initiatives and commercial growth across the company’s global operations, in addition to managing the group’s brand development and marketing. Passionate about surfing, she has strong relationships and international experience working across global markets in both sports management and marketing and communications having held executive roles in the Rugby Football Union, National Basketball Association (NBA), Women’s Tennis Association (WTA), and Adidas. 

“It is an honor to lead the WSL,” she said. “The League has experienced tremendous growth in recent years and has pioneered incredible innovations to transform surfing into a remarkable, digital-first and world-class sport that naturally also transcends into the lifestyle sector so well.” 

With this role, she becomes one of the few female executives to lead a global sports league for both male and female professional athletes. 

Yay, girl power!!

Kelly Slater shattered some little piggies at J-Bay!

By “little piggies,” I don’t mean his competition. According to The Guardian and Mr. Slater’s Insta post, the 11-time world champ broke two metatarsal bones and expects to be out of commission for the next six weeks. Time re-organize your Fantasy Surf League!

Kelly’s Insta post:

“You ever folded your entire foot backwards? If  you try it sometime, this is what it might look like. I pulled into a barrel this morning and the whitewash bounced the board back into my foot as I hit the closeout, taking all the pressure into the metatarsals…kinda like smashing my foot with a big hammer as hard as I can…”

OUCH.

SHARK(SSSSS)!

Historical fishing data shows that there are, at least, four juvenile white shark hot spots in Southern California. These areas are: Ventura/Oxnard, Santa Monica Bay, Huntington Beach and the stretch of coast between Dana Point and San Onofre.

They’re after those dem longerboarders, right?! ;)

Nah, according to KQED News, these juvis are attracted to the warmer coastal waters since, unlike their older (and bigger) relatives, they can’t handle the cold water temps. Additionally, they don’t have to worry about predators, like Orcas and bigger sharks, AND! There is an abundant food supply:

stingrays = potato chips

Which leads me to a bigger conclusion: I was a baby great white in a previous life.

Tropical Cyclone Party!

The North Pacific had a party last weekend and in case you were unable to attend and also suffer from serious FOMO, don’t worry. I was probably further inland than you (try: Austin, TX) and it looks like we missed nothing. In fact, I’m pretty sure I had a better opportunity to surf Austin’s wave pool, a.k.a.: NLand Park, but alas, I opted for a Sunday dive into Barton Springs.

The cool part about this little bit of news is that eight cyclones forming and cruising around all at once is quite the rare event–especially since, according to The Weather Channel’s Jon Erdman:

“On average, 36 tropical cyclones form each year in the northwestern Pacific and southwestern Pacific basins, combined,” wrote Jon Erdman for the Weather Channel. “Another 16-17 form each year in the central and eastern north Pacific basin.”

That’s a good chunk of our season already passing us by. So, what’s up with that? Watch TWC for a detailed explanation.

More Click Bait: Michael Phelps vs. Great White Shark

Per The Inertia’s recent coverage on this interesting staged competition, Phelps raced the CGI Great White and lost. Viewers are pissed. The 100 meter race between Phelps and the ocean’s top predator came down to Phelps shy of two seconds, his sleekly designed wetsuit equipped with a monofin getup no match for nature’s 15 million years of apex predatory evolution.

Update: My MIA Theory

For a while now, I have been pretty MIA on my blog. It hasn’t been easy, since I have at least five blogs in progress (Anyone want to be my model for art??) and have yet to hit the publish button, while more ideas continue to chew at my noggin. However, essentially, I had to hit “pause” because life tends to happen at any given moment and, as I discovered, sometimes you can’t do it all. There are times where you should sit back, take a breath and just watch the waves.

Essentially, that is what I had to do after my sweet fur baby companion sadly developed an aggressive cancer and I had to say a very painful goodbye to him over a month ago. Three weeks after I lost my sweet cat, I also lost my job during a company-wide layoff.

Case-in-point: Always be prepared for those random rogue sets because they happen.

Emotional rollercoasters are taxing on the soul and not a fun ride, but they are essential for inner growth. Like waves have peaks and troughs, life has ups and downs. Through pain and loss, we can discover more about our strengths and opportunities for growth.

It seems there is no rhyme or reason for life’s ebbs and flows, but it is important to take charge and stay the course–to never give up on goals. Whether it’s popping up on your board or perfecting a proper roundhouse, it is always doable, no matter the board, age or skill set. The great thing about a hobby like surfing is it is a ‘forever challenge,’ which creates tenacity.

I like to think surfing plays a big role in training me for life’s victories and disappointments.

Like getting caught inside or surfing an aggressive crowd, life’s frustrations tend to appear more than the benefits. But scoring that perfect ride keeps us frothing, coming back for more, despite those closeout sets. Focus on that ride, keep paddling out, no matter how many waves crash in your face.

Schwack Attack

When surfing frustrates me, I focus on one of my most cherished memories: The first time I caught a wave and the smile it brought to my face.

After this past month of ebbs, I am focusing on paddling towards the peak because I deserve my dreams and so does everyone who sets their course for the horizon. My grandma used to say: “Hitch your wagon to a star.”

Case-in-point: Never give up

Join the Battle with Mauli Ola Foundation and Vote in This Year’s Battle for the Breasts

It’s that time of year where ‘voting’ is synonymous with our everyday vocab and is also the theme of every mainstream news media outlet across America. All monkey suits, hair barrels, deleted emails and unpaid taxes aside–this particular contest is way more fun.

I mean WAY more fun and goes towards an amazing cause.

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All Photo Courtesies: Mauli Ola Foundation

In case you haven’t noticed, things went a little ‘pink’ on Surfline’s site October 4th. That’s because…

–>October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month and in honor of this month, the Mauli Ola Foundation is featuring their third annual Battle for the Breasts (#B4TB) online surf video contest on Surfline’s potent platform.

Sixteen professional women surfers are paired with 16 cancer clinics and/or foundations. Each surfer will submit their top video clips to Surfline every Tuesday morning in October for a chance to win their clinic/foundation up to $125,000 in hereditary breast cancer testing vouchers, which are donated by Ambry Genetics.

FACT: According to the American Cancer Society, it is estimated that 246,660 new cases of invasive breast cancer will be diagnosed in women this year and out of this number, about 5-10% of cases will be caused by inherited genes.

Inherited whaaaksdhajkj–you say? Genes are those little letters in our DNA that determine stuff like your eye color, height and other things like that. Genes are passed on from your parents and can sometimes contain a mutation, which can be the cause of good and bad things that might occur in your bod. The genetic testing vouchers can provide women with early detection of breast cancer so that early treatment can possibly help prevent breast cancer’s progression.

So, now that I’ve ‘splained it all, there’s only one thing left to do–watch these incredible women rip apart your dream waves and vote for your favorite clip:

 

Confess: How Does the Ocean Make You Feel?

Sometimes no words can describe how it feels to be in, near or on the ocean. There are times where one simple word pinpoints it all. Conversely, the ocean experience has produced many essays, books, poems, songs, art and even scientific studies. Like individual personalities, our ocean experiences are often unique and special.
In one word, I found out what the ocean means to some of my agua-junkie pals.
Mahalos to my friends who shared their photos and words!
"Wet."-Rob Grasska
"Wet."-Rob Grasska
"Wet."-Rob Grasska
"Alive." -Bekah Baylock
"Alive." -Bekah Baylock
"Alive."-Bekah Baylock
"Tranquilo."-Josh Baylock
"Tranquilo."-Josh Baylock
"Tranquilo."-Josh Baylock
"Home." -Devyn Hartnett
"Home." -Devyn Hartnett
"Home."-Devyn Hartnett
"Present."-Jen Castelo
"Present."-Jen Castelo
"Present."-Jen Castelo
"Life."-Lucho Soto
"Life."-Lucho Soto
"Life."-Lucho Soto
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How does the Ocean make you feel? Share your photo and include the hashtag:
#TheOceanMakesUsFeel

Calavera Swimwear: Keeping Your Eyes on the Waves

 

IMG_8264We all love a good show, but when it comes to surfing, the only thing that should be center stage are the waves, right? As a woman who is consistently in the agua, finding the perfect bikini that is both stylish and functional has often been a challenge and has made me one helluva bikini connoisseur–a picky one, I might add.

Enter Calavera Swimwear.

Gents, it’s time to forget about our lovely Ms. Blanchard’s  notorious bottom turns for a second and consider what a woman really wants out there in the deep blue. At the end of the day, girls just wanna have fun, and, let’s be honest, for the everyday surfer girl, we want to look good and nail solid backside hacks without the full moon view or surface from a luscious duck dive or turtle roll with all of our goods intact.

Or we just plain want to be in, on or near the water with no worries. Period.

Calavera swimsuits does just that: both stylish and very functional suits designed and manufactured in Los Angeles, CA, this suit stays put on the bod and has become a staple ‘kini in my surf gear.

DSCN3362 (2)“We test our suits in Playa Hermosa, Costa Rica, one of the toughest waves in the world, with the idea that if they hold up in those conditions, the suits will hold up for anything,” said Calavera Swimwear Founder Anna Jerstrom.

I decided to put the Reversible Halter Top Stripe and the Core Hipster Bottoms to the California test a-la point and beach breaks. This suit saw San Clemente State Park’s hollow waves, Salt Creek’s insiders and overhead Trestles, and (on the gentler side of things), Doheny’s soft right handers. It did not budge from my bod–not to mention I felt like the female version of James Bond in the water. The top is specifically designed to avoid strain around the neck, which makes it very comfortable for hours of activity.

 

Instead of elastic bands around the edging, Calavera features ties that don’t wear out as fast as your standard bikini. You can also can tie them yourself and adjust the “hold” for your bottoms. I love this feature because all too often, elastic quickly becomes shot in the sun and salt water, which ultimately retires the bikini.

In addition to awesome designs, color palettes and solid functionality, Calavera ships their bikinis to you sans plastic wrapping! Environmentally conscious efforts, especially plastic reduction, are a major bonus that I look for in companies these days.

Calavera has passed my bikini test with flying colors. No matter the duck dive, wipeout or turn, everything stays on AND in comfortably throughout my ocean activities. And I feel great in my suit!!

To all of your surfer girls and athletes out there: I challenge you to give their ‘kinis a shot at your homebreak.

Whether your rip, glide or flounder, this bikini will stay on you. The only show the boys should be watching is that last hack you just pulled in the critical section, right? ;)

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