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Are Surfers Brave Or Crazy

Jul 24, 2008
For those who thought that maybe surf clothing was for pansies who couldn't cope with the elements, you may want to re-think that attitude after reading this article. It's all very well surfing in the warm seas off of Florida or the Australian coast where the water is warm but just how extreme do you need it to be before you give in to the protection of surf clothing?

One such surfer who can extol the benefits of the protection of surf clothing is a professional surfer who took some time out in Hawaii to indulge in his favourite past time. Not normally considered an extreme sport, this man decided to take it to new lengths and surf alongside an erupting volcano.

Kilauea, the world's most active volcano was busy doing its thing and erupting into the sea off Hawaii when this thrill seeker decided to get a better look. Pulling on his surf clothing and grabbing his board, he paddled out to get a close up tan from the lava. Getting within twenty feet of the lava, where the water temperature reached 200 degrees in places, the surfer found the wax on his board melting and his feet burning.

I'm sure most of us could have told him this would happen even before he started heading that way. There's a clue in the name of Kilauea, which means 'much spreading'. So, you have molten rock spewing 150 feet into the air at temperatures of up to 1,200 degrees and lava flowing down to warm up the sea at the base of Big Island. On top of that, or beneath it rather, are underground 'tubes' sending lava directly into the Pacific Ocean creating clouds of steam and ash. And it's not just the lava and ash to consider. This volcano also gives off noxious fumes that irritate respiratory disorders and has killed several people in recent years.

So this surfer thinks it will be a good idea to wade in for a closer look? It just goes to show what a special lot these surfers are! So just to add to that notion, a pair of surfers were photographed doing their stuff in the water at New Smyrna Beach in Florida just yards away from a 6' shark.

Having said that, these surfers were completely oblivious to the danger they were in as the shark was only seen by the photographer after the event. Surfers are debating whether the photo is the result of digital trickery but the fact that this is called the bite capital of the world probably means that it was real enough. Sounds like reason enough to go in the water but I think you are going to need a little more than surf clothing to protect you from these beauties.

However, the shark seen in the photographs has been identified as a Black Tip shark which is not considered to be dangerous to humans - but would you want to argue with it and find out? Twelve surfers and swimmers have been bitten in this area in the last year which is a little too many for the comfort of the average seagoing person! However, seasoned surfers are getting used to the sight of sharks in this area to the point where they simply accept it. "You can see several sharks on one ride on a good day" says one crazy surfer.
About the Author
Sports expert Catherine Harvey looks at the use of surf clothing for slightly more dangerous situations.
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