Maui Channel swim, shark, spear gun

evmoevmo San FranciscoAdmin
edited April 30 in General Discussion
Interesting little mini-documentary about Meredith Novack's Maui Channel two-way (Lanai-Maui-Lanai, a touch under 20 miles), which was the first by a woman.



I congratulate Meredith on the swim, but found it very disturbing to see one of her crew aiming a spear gun at a tiger shark that was spotted during the swim (skip to 1:50).

Not cool. Were they willing to kill a shark, for the sake of a swimmer's "world record"?

Comments

  • NiekNiek Heiloo, NetherlandsMember
    Besides the shark thing.
    What I see is that the support swimmers are swimming in front of her. at 0:46, 0:59 and 2:25
    http://openwaterswimming.eu - Cold, wind, waves, sunburn, currents, jellyfish and flotsam! Hop in and join the fun!
  • evmoevmo San FranciscoAdmin
    edited April 22
    And I'm guessing there was no observer on board, either, but I don't think it's particularly productive to go down that road (again). This is an example of why MSF Rules were created, but this swim pre-dated them.

    Which is why I'm focusing on the spear guns.
  • KarenTKarenT Charter Member
    I agree this is troubling - it's so disrespectful of the ocean's creatures. As an aside, I just saw that Lewis Pugh had armed polar bear guards for his north pole swim. I don't what they fire, but this seems deeply problematic to me too in terms of disturbing their habitat, frightening the bears or possibly injuring or killing them.
  • KarenTKarenT Charter Member
    When I say "armed polar bear guards", I mean guards armed against polar bears, not armed polar bears acting as guards. Although I could really get behind a swim that had those.
  • evmoevmo San FranciscoAdmin
    edited April 22
    The Surf Channel article about this extremely well-publicized swim also mentioned a "bang stick," which I had never heard of before so I looked it up:
    A powerhead, bang stick, smokie or shark stick is a specialized firearm used underwater that is fired when in direct contact with the target. Powerheads are often used for spear fishing and against sharks or alligators for sport, defense, or to kill nuisance animals.
    [Wikipedia]

    Lovely.
  • dc_in_sfdc_in_sf San FranciscoMember
    Without more information I am not sure we can judge this video.

    If you were hiking and encountered a bear, readying a weapon does not invalidate your plan of backing away from the bear and would appear to be only prudent.
    http://notdrowningswimming.com - open water adventures of a very ordinary swimmer
  • evmoevmo San FranciscoAdmin
    edited April 22
    dc_in_sf said:

    If you were hiking and encountered a bear, readying a weapon does not invalidate your plan of backing away from the bear and would appear to be only prudent.

    I don't think these are equivalent situations. A swimmer can evade a curious tiger shark simply by exiting the water.

    If the shark attacked suddenly from below (which would be highly atypical for a tiger shark), a shooter on the boat would seem just as likely to hit the swimmer as the shark.

    Evading an aggressive bear in the woods is less trivial, and the hiker has far more precise control over any force exerted in self-defense.

    Dozens of relays swim the Maui Channel every year. I've personally swum it solo as well. I've never heard of anyone carrying spear guns & bang sticks. Tiger shark sightings are fairly common... when it happens, the swimmer simply exits the water, or moves in close to the boat until the shark moves on, which it almost always does.

    Bang sticks and spear guns are unnecessary for this, especially when it's only in the service of someone's personal glory.
  • ForeverSwimForeverSwim Charter Member
    edited April 22
    They called it a 'boom stick' when I was planning my Molokai attempt. I cannot remember who told me about it. Basically, it was a .44 round that you stick the animal with, releasing a .44 round. I was told depending on where I was bit, it could be used on me as well. We all had a good chuckle, and I chose to opt-out of having one.
    www.darren-miller.com
    Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania U.S.A.
  • dc_in_sfdc_in_sf San FranciscoMember
    The question is what was the safety protocol?

    If you see a shark do you:

    a) Immediately exit the water no matter what
    b) Evaluate the shark and exit the water under some set of criteria
    c) Continue swimming and rely on some form of deterrent.

    I would not be a fan of c) but I can see having a deterrent backup for a) and b) as a not unreasonable precaution.

    b) does introduce a gray area in that that presence of deterrents may encourage setting parameters for exiting the water that may rely on the deterrents and thus implicitly put the shark (as well as the swimmer) at risk.

    In this case we do know that the protocol was not a) as two sharks were spotted and the swimmer was not pulled, but we don't know whether the protocol was b) or c) or if b) what the criteria were so I still think it is hard to judge based purely on the video - especially one that has a promotional nature to it thus plays up the dangers.

    According to the article they did have a well defined safety plan, so hopefully that information will come out (perhaps in the book mentioned in the article) and then it will be possible to judge.

    http://notdrowningswimming.com - open water adventures of a very ordinary swimmer
  • evmoevmo San FranciscoAdmin
    edited April 22
    Good questions, but I disagree with your terminology.

    Electronic shark shield == "deterrent."

    Spear guns & 'boom sticks' == killing tools == unnecessary force.
  • troubletrouble Member
    It seems like the equivalent hiking/bear scenario would be: the hiker is being escorted by armed guards who, upon seeing a bear might use a crossbow or gun to protect the hiker.

    Most of us don't hike that way - and I suspect most of us wouldn't swim with weapons on board.

    This type of "safety" plan seems disrespectful and dangerous to sharks and to swimmers. Until the moment when a shark at the surface actually bites you, you can't possibly know its intentions in coming close. And once the shark is close enough to bite, it seems like quite a risk that the spear or bullet would hit the swimmer.

    I was bitten by a tiger shark while surfing. I would have been extremely upset if the shark that bit me was shot or speared because it bit me. It was just being a shark and I was just in the wrong spot. I know that, among those bitten by sharks, I'm not alone in feeling that way.
  • And I for one would rather take the slight risk of death by bear than carry a weapon while hiking anyway. This despite on two occasions coming around a bend to find myself much much closer to a bear (or bears) than one would desire. Most recently a momma bear and two cubs, which was really cool after we realized we were in fact not going to die that day.
  • dc_in_sfdc_in_sf San FranciscoMember
    evmo said:

    Good questions, but I disagree with your terminology.

    Electronic shark shield == "deterrent."

    Spear guns & 'boom sticks' == killing tools == unnecessary force.

    I don't have a lot of (i.e. any) experience in convincing sharks to not do something they were otherwise inclined to do, but my impression is that they might require something more than harsh language to dissuade them.
    http://notdrowningswimming.com - open water adventures of a very ordinary swimmer
  • dc_in_sfdc_in_sf San FranciscoMember
    KarenT said:

    When I say "armed polar bear guards", I mean guards armed against polar bears, not armed polar bears acting as guards. Although I could really get behind a swim that had those.

    I hope I was not the only one who thought of the Golden Compass though I think the armour would be an impediment in a swim...

    http://notdrowningswimming.com - open water adventures of a very ordinary swimmer
  • david_barradavid_barra Charter Member
    edited April 22
    Exploiting the shark factor of OW swimming is certainly a way to get more attention than one would otherwise, but consider; hundreds of people have swum the Maui channel without incident, so the claim at 1:21 “This is one of the most dangerous swims in the world” is sensationalism BS... and the coaches claim that “If they come, we’re ready for ‘em” adds to the feeling that they have made sharks the focus of this little film... not the swim.

    If a body of water includes fish that are too big and scary to swim with; swim somewhere else.
    I categorically reject the term “shark infested”.
    ...anything worth doing is worth overdoing.
  • swimmer25kswimmer25k Member
    edited April 22

    "This is one of the most dangerous swims in the world”.

    is sensationalism.

    I agree with you Dave. Hogwash. Pretty much anything in the Sea of Japan, Brazil, or Argentina gets my vote. I'm mostly scared for the little bugs that you can't see and will lay you out making you wish you were dead. Jet skiers on Lake Travis during Texas/OU Weekend are a close second.

    IMHO, I'm ok with having those items available (even though I never have) given that those who use them have been trained to do so, and there's a well thought out plan that defines when their deployment is an absolute necessity for the safety and livelihood of the swimmer. Introducing a bang stick, spear gun, or any other weapon to the fray could very well exacerbate the situation and do more harm than good (tricky optics of refraction, poor marksmanship, general dopiness). I'm guessing/hoping that this is a rare instance.

    I always coped with the shark issue by making it my competitors problem. Let them think about it and take them out of their game. Advantage goes to me. Having my head in the sand got me through those times; like seeing hundreds of eagle rays under the bridges in Tampa Bay knowing that big hammers and bulls chomp on them like I crave Buffalo wings.
  • hmeermanhmeerman Boulder, COMember
    I'm pretty sure that Meredith Novack was not the first woman to do a two-way Maui Channel, as I believe that this swim has been done by DeeAnn Joslin several years ago, though I am not sure whether she started her two-way on Maui or Lanai. @Evmo perhaps you can check with Bob Roper and other Southenders who know of and/or assisted DeeAnn's swim.
  • evmoevmo San FranciscoAdmin
    @hmeerman, do you know if DeeAnn submitted her swim to the Hawaii CSA for ratification? I will ask Bobby next time I see him.
  • SharkoSharko Sonoma County, CAMember
    Deane Joslin and Patrick McMullen did the swim together a few years back...I will ask Deane about the swim.
    "I never met a shark I didn't like"
  • SharkoSharko Sonoma County, CAMember
    I received this from Deane via e-mail:

    Hi!
    I did the double alone...was recognized at the luau for the channel relay event. 9 hours 20 min.
    "I never met a shark I didn't like"
  • Muy interesante...another "claimed" world record?!
  • david_barradavid_barra Charter Member
    Sharko said:

    I received this from Deane via e-mail:

    Hi!
    I did the double alone...was recognized at the luau for the channel relay event. 9 hours 20 min.

    And without a team of shark snipers I presume.

    ...anything worth doing is worth overdoing.
  • evmoevmo San FranciscoAdmin
    Hmmmm!

    http://www.swimmingworldmagazine.com/lane9/news/5832.asp?q=Masters-Swimmer-Dea-Ann-Joslin-Sets-Maui-Channel-Record
    MAUI, Hawaii, September 4. ON Friday, August 29, 2003, Petaluma (California) swim coach and mother of five, Dea Ann Joslin, completed the first solo round-trip crossing of the Maui Channel in 9 hours 20 minutes.
  • firebahfirebah Member
    edited April 27
    what luau - did she say? Does she mean the Maui Channel Relay luau that Ian puts on each year?

  • for this comment, just know..i am a Hawaii channel swimmer. I am very familiar with all that occurred.
    we have tried to explain to this swimmer that this is not a world record but for her sponsor opportunities and ego she chose to put it out as a world record.she is the first woman to do this double from lanai to maui and back. ms. joslins swim (which was never recorded, so has never been recognized by our channel association) went from maui to lanai and back.
    there was 1 shark sighted by the boat. it came and circled the escort kayaker as the paddlers were changing out. the swimmer never saw it and the shark circled a few times and left. somehow that grew to 2 sharks.
    yes, as soon as a shark is sighted it becomes a more sensational event. I myself fear jellyfish more than sharks.
    this swim is not one of the most dangerous in Hawaii , let alone the world. this channel has been swum by more people by far than any other channel in Hawaii.
    this video was put together by ' the surf channel'. nuff said.
    just wanted to set the record straight.
  • NiekNiek Heiloo, NetherlandsMember
    @HIswimmer Meredith Novack & co. obvious got their media training from DN?
    http://openwaterswimming.eu - Cold, wind, waves, sunburn, currents, jellyfish and flotsam! Hop in and join the fun!
  • ttriventtriven Member
    Thanks for the clarification, I was a bit confused by the claim myself. I thought oh maybe they meant Molokai and back, but maybe that has been done as well. I remember swimming from Lanai to Maui on a really rough day and thinking, I'd love to see a shark, maybe then I would have a good excuse to get out. I'm glad I didn't see a shark because that meant I did finish. But a relay did see a shark that day. They got out of the water, radio'd everyone, then I think they got back in when the shark went back down to the bottom. My husband was my support that day. He chose not to tell me what he heard on the radio, and I am glad. So I don't remember what the "new rules" (whoops doesn't Bill Maher have a copyright on that?) say about shark sightings. If you get out when you see one, is your swim done? Or can you get back in and continue and still claim some kind of world record? Apparently one can claim whatever they want as long as they shout it loud enough. I'm asking because I think the ruling would affect how people plan for such an event. If your swim is deemed over, you might be more likely to carry lethal weapons in order to not have to face failure...
  • DanSimonelliDanSimonelli Member
    edited April 29
    nonspecific record cited here:

    http://openwaterpedia.com/index.php?title=Meredith_Novack

    And here, no mention of Dea Ann Joslin:
    http://dailynews.openwaterswimming.com/2013/09/oh-wow-in-auau.html

    (forgot to add)
    It is listed here on Dea Ann's OWP profile:
    http://www.openwaterpedia.com/index.php?title=Dea_Ann_Joslin

    ~
    4/29/14
    Steve M updated the information on these pages.
  • JBirrrdJBirrrd Member
    edited April 29
    Ahhh Dan. You forget that anyone, including the subject, is free to contribute and even submit the entire content of one's own page to Openwaterpedia. My Openwaterpedia page mysteriously appeared there after one of my races. I considered adding my world record for longest training swim at local Sport & Health pool and claim my other world age group record at puny Lake Linganore, but being the humble mediocre swimmer that I am and the fact that neither swim was ratified, I decided against it. Not saying either of these women's swims did or did not happen, but readers always need to consider the source.
  • evmoevmo San FranciscoAdmin
    edited April 29
    To summarize the situation for folks:

    Dea Ann Joslin is an extremely accomplished pool and open water swimmer, having competed at the 1980 Olympic Trials, and many impressive swims in the SF Bay with the South End Rowing Club. She is less active as a swimmer nowadays so I've never met her (but Sharko is her friend as they live in the same town).

    Every year, a contingent of SERC members travel to Hawaii for the annual Maui Channel Relay race. For several years in the late 1990s-early 2000s, this included Dea Ann. On August 29, 2003, the day before the Maui Channel Relay event, Dea Ann completed a two-way solo swim from Maui to Lanai and back to Maui, in 9 hours 20 minutes.

    This, according to Dea Ann herself, and the numerous friends and fellow SERC members who were there, and the fact that Dea Ann was publicly recognized at the banquet/luau the next day for the Relay event.

    However, Dea Ann did not submit a form to the Hawaii Channel Swimming Association, which is currently just a basic Excel spreadsheet logging start & finish times & locations, weather, stroke rates, and the signature of a witness. So, the Hawaii CSA does not recognize the swim, though many Hawaii channel swimmers are aware the swim happened.

    Dea Ann swam purely for the personal journey & accomplishment, and doesn't care for official status or recognition. So her swim is in this funny limbo in which everyone knows that it happened, but it is absent from the official record books.

    10 years later, Meredith Novack took advantage of this odd situation to claim a "world record." Yet another reason why I believe there's (almost) no such thing as a world record in open water swimming.
  • evmoevmo San FranciscoAdmin
    ttriven said:

    So I don't remember what the "new rules" (whoops doesn't Bill Maher have a copyright on that?) say about shark sightings. If you get out when you see one, is your swim done? Or can you get back in and continue and still claim some kind of world record?

    If the swimmer is following MSF Rules, then yes the swim is over -- as it would be for any other marathon swim in the world except the Cook Strait. A 'solo nonstop marathon swim' is specifically defined, so it would be dishonest to claim to have done this when in fact the swimmer took a break on the boat in the middle of the swim (for whatever reason).
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