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December 14, 2016

bilgola swim 161211 600 feet
Every now and again, you find an image that makes you wonder what really is going on. Everyone seems fixated on the bottom here, but some of them are just looking at it, while someone else is getting stuck right into it. We hope they found what they were looking for. This was Bilgola last Sundee... See our report... Click here

Swims this weekend...

Mystery of the bluebottle-bearing breeze

What stinger is that?

Everyone has a life quest. It might be to become rich. Or to become a world famous actor. It might be to become a best-selling author. Or, as Norman Gunston had it, to have "a fabulously well-paid cigarette commercial", just like John Laws. Norman pursued his dream and eventually he got his cigarette commercial, although we wonder how many fags he sold for Dukes, which was, as you might say, a short-lived brand. Serves 'em right.

But Norman is inspiration to those who doggedly pursue their dream: eventually, it will come. Maybe.

We have a dream, too. It is to understand the bluebottle. We don't want to know why they exist. Good heavens, we know enough about the world to realise that there are some things that we cannot possibly hope to understand; some things that we must just accept are there, or simply are by the good grace of some almighty, who has placed them there – blueys, we mean – in her/is infinite mercy.
Blueys. Bluebottles. Not why are they there, but why are they there when they are there?

carybdea marsupialisYou might find this a silly question. Everyone we ask, including some you might regard as "experts", tell us the same thing: "Oh," they say, as if revealing a hidden truth hitherto known only to them, "they come in on the nor'-easters".

Carybdea marsupialis

Oh. We should have known. The nor'-easters bring them in to shore from some mystical sea just offshore, where they bob around on the water waiting for a nor'-eastser to blow. It's not just nor'-easters, by the way. Any onshore breeze will bring them in. It's just that a sou'-easter will bring a particular bluey to shore at a different place to that by a nor'-easter.

But sea-breezes, onshore breezes, blow all summer long. They're our prevailing wind in the warmer months. When we were kids at Caves Beach, we used to think we could set our watches by the nor'easter coming in at 10:30am daily (nowadays 11:30 with daylight saving). Yet, sometimes, when an onshore breeze blows, we don't get blueys on the beach, while at other times we do. Something must be causing them to be there, bobbing ararnd offshore, available, waiting for a nor'-easter or a sou'-easter to blow them in. Why are they there sometimes and not at other times? Why are they there in swarms sometimes but at other times they are there in dribs and drabs? Why? It's not good enough to simply accept they are there and that the wind brings them in. Why are they there sometimes but not at other times, irrespective of the breeze. The answer, my friends, is... Yes, yes, we know what you're going to say...

The best response we've been able to get to date has been to do with the food cycle: as there is more food available for blueys, then more blueys will be there. Or as predators of blueys diminish, then blueys themselves will proliferate. Two sides of the same line.

Bluey moon

In Hawai'i, the awgies of the Waikiki Roughwater swim reckon they can predict (forecast, anticipate?) the arrival of stingers by the moon phases. A few years back, they brought their swim forward two days to avoid them. But while they may have been spot on with their stingers, we don't know that the same can apply to bluebottles.

No-one has ever been able to tell us. So our quest goes on.

medusa sting oscThis week, we thought we might be able to get an answer at last. There's a new app (for the iPhone and iPad) which aims to be a universal guide to jellyfish, which is what a bluey is. It's called The Jellyfish App, and you can find it on the App Store or directly through its website... Click here

Our "Medusa" encounter, 2012

his eponymous app sets out to be an encyclopaedia of jellyfish: What's there, where, when, how to recognise them, whether it's a nasty stinger, and how nasty, and how to treat its stings. Quite useful objectives. You can get a basic version free, but that comes with ads and lacks some interactivity features. The commercial version, which retails for $A2.99, carries no ads and includes a feature by which you can upload a pic of a stinger (assuming you can't find it on the app's database), and send it in to be identified by the app's founder, Lisa-Ann Gershwin, a Tasmanian academic.


This could be a tremendously useful resource. However, it's new, and there will always be teething issues with new things. For example, when we keyed in "bluebottle", the search returned nothing. Later, we discovered that blueys are listed as "blue bottles", not "bluebottles". When we looked up jimbles, purple people eaters, and blueys, and we hit the "Location" button – which is supposed to be a graphic representation of a particular creature's presence -- it turned up a map of Strãa with Sydney and Melbourne marked. But nothing else. It had a blue bit, which was the ocean. But nothing in it.

This is not the case with all stingers. Others bring up maps with shaded circles indicating their spread.

You can look up stingers using common names or scientific names, although unless you know the scientific name, it can be difficult to find them. When we went to Yrp a few years back, for example, we were stung by what the locals call a "Medusa", which can plague the Riviera beaches over high summer. This particular "Medusa" gave us a scar that remains on our necks four years later. But keying in "Medusa" to The Jellyfish App returns nothing relevant. Medusa seems to be a generic name for stingers over there. We went instead to and we found (by looking at the pitchers) what we thought could have been the critter than got us. We got its scientific name from, and we keyed it in to The Jellyfish App.

Curiously, when you key in the entire scientific name of the one that caught our eye, carybdea marsupialis, the search returns nothing. But if you key in just the first part of the name, it returns five stingers, including one with the full name as we keyed it in. But, with the screen on both the iPad and the iPhone obscured by the keyboard used to key in the name, there is only a small window to scroll through and click on the one you want. As ours appeared to be the last on the list, we could scroll up, get it partially in the screen, but not enough to click on it and bring up its info. And as soon as you take your finger off the screen to "click", it springs back down behind the keyboard.

So we're none the wiser on that one.

Issues like this can be sorted out over time. For now, it's worth a look and, in the spirit of crowd-sourcing, you can help to build the database and suggest improvements.

Go to The Jellyfish App... Click here

Interesting fact...

In season 2015/16, raised $355,929 for swim organisers -- mainly surf life saving clubs -- through accepting online entries on their behalf.

This is a real figure, not something hypothecated from a fantasy.

Budgys for Xmas

budgy smuggler sailor stripes

budgeysmugglerlogo150Budgy Smuggler create 100% Australian made swimwear.

Available for Men, Women and Kids - it's the perfect stocking filler this Christmas!

Shop at...

Swims this weekend...

Pre-Xmas-Xmas-NY swims

A glut of swims around the NSW metropolitan area this weekend, but not much in most other places. As always, check the weather and surf conditions prior to making your own decision whether to enter.

See the dotpoints above for all swims we have in our calendar, but we're taking entries for...

Queenscliff - Swim for Saxon

The Swim for Saxon remembers Saxon Bird, the young lifesaver who lost his life in dangerous seas at the Australian Surf Life Saving Champeenships on the Gold Coast in 2011. Two distances on offer: 2km and 1km. Best do them both.

Queenscliff is a lovely, open beach at the northern end of the Steyne beaches at Manly. Online entries close at 3pm on Sat'dee, December 17... Click here

Wollongong - Basin2Beach

In the Illawarra, three distances on offer in this early season carnival of swims based in Wollongong Boat Harbour: 2km (zig-zagging across to North Wollongong beach), 800m and 350m for younger swimmers. The harbour offers a good location for younger and newer swimmers with its protection from the elements. But if you'd like something more seafarin', then do the 2km. Online entries close at noon on Saturday... Click here

Over Xmas-NY

Of the swims for which we're taking online entries -

In Adelaide, you can do the Proclamation Classic at Glenelg on Wednesday, December 28. Distances of 5km, 2km, and 1km. Bear in mind, this is a business day, but it is the Xmas-NY week so perhaps employers will be understanding when you wop it... Click here

Recover from NY at Yamba on Monday, January 2. Do either or both of 2km and 700m. And if you do at least one of those swims, you qualify for the Dash for Cash... Click here

Otherwise, Victorians holidaying on the peninsula or along the Surf Coast are spoilt with choice from Pt Leo (Boxing Day), Anglesea on December 28, Pt Lonsdale and Port Fairy on January 2.

In the West, there's Mullalloo on Tuesday, December 27 and Albany on January 2.

Find out more from our calendar... Click here

Tough road to hoe

From The Times (2/12/16):

Jellyfish stings, equipment failure, choppy seas and an unappetising diet of military rations are enough to contend with when trying to become the first person to swim across the Atlantic. Ben Hooper is also having to dispute claims that his attempt is not quite what it seems.

Mr Hooper, 38, has been fighting his way through clumps of lice-infested seaweed and acres of floating rubbish while being churned about as though he is in a washing machine. Currents have left him struggling to make any progress at all. At times his support boat Big Blue has been travelling at less than one knot.

In two and a half weeks, Ben Hooper, a former policeman from Cheltenham, has covered 67 miles of the 1,835 nautical-mile crossing from Dakar in Senegal to Natal in Brazil. Currents have left him struggling to make any progress at all...

Thanks to the Marathon Swimmers Forum for this lead (@marathon_swimrs)

Our swim calendar

Our home page on holds a list of Featured Swims that awgies have asked us to feature more prominently. But for our full calendar of swims across Strãa, New Zealand, the Pacific and some more, go to Swims/Calendar on Or click here

When you go to our calendar, you can search swims by location, by swim type (from various kinds), by type of water, type of venue, whether there's another discipline involved, whether you can enter with a team or just by yourself, and much more.

recap bar graph 161214

ReCap update

Here's the cap return rate from the 4 swims Recap has attended so far (Collaroy, Balmain, Coogee, Bilgola). The labels represent the number collected and in brackets is the number handed out.

I was going to attempt some humour and write about the generations, but I'll leave that except to say good on the Baby Boomers for leading the charts so far.

There is noise in the data, and I had to make some assumptions, so we'll revisit this at the end of the season. Having someone stand by the bins helps, and if there are multiple swims on one day, we've had a better return rate from the long swim than the short one.

Marc West

Find out more - visit ReCap's Facebook page... Click here

Controversy Corner...

But what do you reckon? Send us your thoughts and we'll publish them...Click here

Or, see the comment box at the bottom of this page.

Glistening Dave's ocean swims calendar 2017

Order now for Xmas

calendar dhd 17 banner 250First orders of Glistening Dave's ocean swims calendar 2017 was sent to the mailhouse today, which means those who'd ordered by last Friday should receive their calendars in the next few days. If you're one of them, make sure your delivery address is safe, secure, and easy to access for Postman Pat. Later orders will be included in the next mail-out, again in time for Xmas delivery.

The calendar includes every swim date we can find in Strãa, along with many in New Zealand and the Pacific, and a few more besides that we deem worthwhile. Pin it on your notice board at work, behind the door in the loo, on the wall in the kitchen, in your home office, your men's shed out the back, your sewing and knitting room, the wall in your hallway, so that you can check swim dates each time you leave home or return. Stick it on your garage door to remind you where you're going when you get in the car. Or get multiples and mount one in each of those places, so that you're constantly surrounded by images of ocean swimming. Or Dave's perceptions of them, anyway.

Your friends would like them for Xmas, too. They would love you even more if you gave them an ocean swims calendar from Glistening Dave.

Order yours now for Xmas (delivery in December)... Click here

All I want for Xmas...

... is an exotic adventure with

Xmas is barely a week away, and we know what punters like to do over Xmas: They like to sift through their holiday options for the coming year and choose an exotic location for an adventure.

We have packages available now for Sulawesi (June), Costa Brava in Spain (September), and we will have them online in the next few days also for San Sebastián (also Spain, in August), Vanuatu – Port Vila and Santo (May-June), and a new oceanswimsafari to swim with Manta rays in Fiji's Yasawa islands (July).

Not long after that, we'll have packages up for the Mana Fiji SwimFest and/or Yasawas oceanswimsafari (October). We had them available to Tonga, too, but we have filled all three oceanswimsafaris there (July-August).

We will be offering the Northern Sporades islands in Greece (September) for small groups.

We expect Heron Island to be ready in the New Year.

Go to for more info and to book... Click here

Our oceanswimsafaris in 2017 –

  • Vanuatu - Port Vila (May 24-29)
  • Vanuatu - Santo (May 29-June 3 TBC)
  • Sulawesi (Indonesia, June 11-19) - 3 spots left
  • Yasawas Fiji - Swim with Manta rays (July 16-23) (New oceanswimsafari!)
  • Tonga 1 - Swim with Whales 1 (July 25-Aug 2) - Sold out!
  • Tonga 2 - Swim with Whales 2 (Aug 1-9) - Sold out!
  • Tonga 3 - Swim with Whales 3 (Aug 8-16) - Sold out!
  • San Sebastián (Spain, Aug 23-29)
  • Costa Brava (Spain, Aug 31-Sep 8)
  • Greece's Northern Sporades (Sep 12-21)
  • Yasawas Fiji (Oct 16-23)
  • Mana Fiji (Oct 24-29)
  • Heron Island (Nov 4-8) 

New, postponed swims

Another new swim in Sydney this season: at North Curl Curl on February 25, the "Pacific Championships" of the Global Swim Series. Two distances on offer: 3.8km, which takes you almost to Freshwater point and back, and 1.5km, in the bay at Curly. Online entries will be open in the next day or so... Click here

Nobbys-Newcastle was postponed from last Sat'dee on lifeguard's advice, but has been rescheduled now for Sunday, January 22. Online entries have been re-opened, and all existing entries roll-over to the new date... Click here

I ocean swim, therefore...

bs cossies both bothWith the help of our cobbers from, we've released our very own oceanswims cossies. We haven't put commercial markers on them too heavily because we respect your right not to be a walking billboard. But observing punters will be in no doubt about whom you are: An Ocean Swimmer, ie "I ocean swim, therefore I am".

The Laydees model is designed with racing and swimming longer distances in mind. Mrs Sparkle loves this style, with its narrow straps that slide across the back to suit the way you swim. Very comfy, she says, and they keep her "in", whatever that means. They're chlorine-resistant, too, so you can wear them in the pool as well as the ocean.

The Gents model...? There's not much you can do with budgys for boofheads, apart from make them look good, and chlorine-resistant, and the budgysmuggler people have done both of those things.

We love them. And you can buy them now... Click here

Swims open to online entry...

New entries here... North Curl Curl (Feb 25), Mollymook (Apr 8)

In the works... Balmoral (Apr 2)


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  • brian standlick Comment Link
    brian standlick
    Wednesday, 21 December 2016 21:42
    Blue bottles wax lyrical about the vagarities of life, the universe and all things and occasionally about the whimsy and foibles of man who frets and struts at the edge of their world seemingly with no purpose. The world was created by the bluebottle god to serve the needs of the bluebottle and in their bible God said, “Let us make bluebottlekind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish and other blob floating in the sea and over all the creatures that move along the ocean floor.”
  • Shaun Phelan Comment Link
    Shaun Phelan
    Wednesday, 14 December 2016 23:43
    I remember hearing a stinger expert talk a few
    I remember hearing a stinger expert talk a few years back about bluebottles and it was quiet fascinating. She went on to say that they are actually handed. That is, left or right, so that the whole population doesn't get washed up onto a beach and wiped out when the wind is blowing in one direction.
    I can't remember her name but Canadian who used to work for James Cook Uni.
  • Martin Dicker Comment Link
    Martin Dicker
    Wednesday, 14 December 2016 23:40
    Fabulously well organised Auckland cross harbour swim Dec 3rd, with competitors asked to estimate their time in the water in set time bands and the start waves organised accordingly; fastest first, then next fastest etc...' What an enjoyable & relaxing swim it was not to be mown down by an older, faster, get out of my way person. Please , Australia, let's try these starts so swimming once again becomes a non contact sport.
    Blue calm waters to you all,
    Martin Dicker
  • Connie Lewis Comment Link
    Connie Lewis
    Wednesday, 14 December 2016 23:35
    Great article on the insidious Blue Bottle, very eloquent and articulate.
    Did you know it's part of the "Portuguese Man O War" family? This is a family no one wants in their neighbourhood! Phylum must be "Bastards of the Planet", right up there with mozzies, wasps and Jack Jumper ants of Tasmania.
    I know, I know it's all part of our delicate ecosystem... It's difficult to feel appreciation for them though. At least bees pollinate our food and fruit bearing plants and yet, what have we done to them? Yikes!
    End of rant.

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