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Ever tell yourself “one more” and the ocean proceeds to go flat? A new study finds that may not just be a coincidence. Photo: Tim Marshall/Unsplash


The Inertia

We’ve all been there. You look at your buddy and audibly say, “One more?” or maybe you just put up an index finger with a quizzical look and your friend responds with a nod. And then, regardless if waves were coming in consistently or not, the ocean goes flat.

Well, according to new research from the Scripps Institute of Oceanography, turns out even if you’re surfing alone and simply think about the idea of getting one more wave, the ocean knows.

In the study published this week in the journal Telepathic Ocean, researchers Arnold Grey and Janine Aaron explain they studied nearly 100 surfers during countless sessions from California to New Jersey, Ireland to Australia and found the same thing with nearly 94 percent accuracy.

“Nearly every time our subjects said to themselves they would get one more wave before paddling in, the ocean would completely shut down for at least ten minutes. Sometimes as long as an hour,” Aaron told me.

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“What that means in my mind is the ocean has a strange connection to people who spend a lot of time there,” she continued. “I’m not going to say the ocean can read your mind, but our results are enough to say this isn’t just coincidence.”

Buzzy Wallop, a Melbourne-based surfer who participated in the study, says that the results simply confirm something he’s always known to be true.

“The ocean is a jealous mistress,” he said. “Doesn’t matter if it’s work, family, friends, whatever you must end a session to tend to, she doesn’t want you to leave. That’s why she hates to let you get that last wave.”

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Surfers themselves, Grey and Aaron initially became interested in this question during a morning at Scripps Pier. Longtime ocean research partners, they often surf together before heading into the lab. One morning Grey asked Aaron if she wanted to get one more wave and she said yes. Then the pair waited for over forty-five minutes for a set to come. Joking about their bad luck in the parking lot, a local surfer overheard them and said the same thing always happens to him too and wondered aloud why that is. Always up for a challenge, the pair found their next research inquiry.

“It seems to be universal that this happens,” said Grey. “I hesitate to say the ocean ‘hears’ us in the typical sense we understand it. But, there’s something here. It’s weird.”

Editor’s Note: Johnny Utah is an “Eff-Bee-Eye” agent and an expert in works of satire. More of his investigative work can be found here

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