In a world where big south swells are predicted two weeks in advance, local surfers at places like Malibu have been tempted to throw up a screen of anti-hype, to deter the hoards of surfers who tsunami into town. Malibu surfer/photographer Dave Ogle of oglevision.com is like that: “Yeah in the past me and my buddies have thought about doing a fake shark scare to deter some of the crowd. But then I talked to the lifeguards about that and they said that would be a felony – like a terrorist threat – and we could be jailed or fined.”
On Thursday, the 23rd of July, Malibu was buzzing in anticipation of a class A boomer from Antarctica, with love. The crowds had shown up before the swell, and Malibu was packed, with more human energy than ocean energy. A perfect day for a shark scare, but this time, Ogle didn’t have to fake it: “I have been working with a local guy named Simon Davis who has a helicopter charter company,” Ogle said. “On this day I went up in another helicopter to shoot Simon flying past some Malibu landmarks. We flew along Malibu and up to Point Dume and then we came back and I wanted to shoot him hovering in front of Pepperdine. We swung out to sea about a quarter of a mile and then banked back in to shoot him where he was hovering. I am always looking down at the water – I’m a surfer – looking for dolphins or whales or whatever. As we were banking out to sea I looked down and saw this big shape in the water. At first I thought it was a dolphin but it was too big for a dolphin. Then I thought it was a whale but it wasn’t big enough for a whale, and then I got a little jolt of adrenaline up my back: ‘Holy shit, that’s a white shark, a big one!’”
Ogle videoed the shark for more than two minutes as the helicopter hovered. When he radioed Simon Davis, the Canadian helicopter pilot called BS but then he swooped out and got a look at the shark too. Ogle videoed, then shot some stills, then went back to video as the shark cruised on the surface. When Simon buzzed the shark close and threw up some prop wash, the shark dove a bit, but then came back to the surface.
As soon as Dave Ogle got his feet back on the ground, he began contacting local news agencies. Ogle’s shark footage was the teaser for Fox 11 News that night, and the next morning, Malibu resident Dorothy Lucey – one of the hosts of Good Day LA – said she was having second thoughts about her son, who was attending the Malibu Makos Surf School at Zuma Beach.
On Friday morning, the surf was firing, but the shark threat had no effect on the crowd. The feeding frenzy was in full force at First Point Malibu, with seven guys taking off on every wave, scaring off even the most aggressive white shark: “I guess my shark hoax wouldn’t have worked anyway,” Ogle sighed. “I was out there shooting at Surfrider all morning (on Friday) and saw more chaos and carnage than that shark could have ever caused. Guess we’ll just have to deal with the crowds and the ever-present sharks. At least the sharks are some what protected.”