Sunday, June 06, 2010

shark alert

sharks. oh god. why does it have to be sharks?

and great whites, too.

they're back.


i know, i know, they always are. but this time they're in force.

great white sharks have recently been spotted off the coast of Los Angeles county beaches. this in and of itself is not a big deal--a number of beaches around here are renowned great white shark grounds (just ask any surfer). but it appears that now there's a surge in their numbers at a number of popular locations in the area...and there's video to prove it. check out the KTLA Channel 5 video on this:
and here's the accompanying transcript of the report:
in case you don't know, i have a phobia about sharks. a serious one. i have numerous fears about the ocean, as ironic as that may seem for someone who enjoys so many ocean-related activities. but of all my ocean-related phobias the one towards sharks is the worst. especially regarding great whites. i have nightmares about them. i shudder to even think about them.

i've written about this before--reference:
it's not that i fear the odds of being attacked by a shark. that, i know (and, more importantly in terms of my fears, feel), is something that has a very low probability of occurring. the number of humans attacked by sharks is almost trivial given the number of people in the oceans of the world at any given time. even with the above news item, they note that in the Malibu area there have only been 4 attacks in the past 5 years, which is miniscule considering the number of beachgoers frequenting those beaches.

what i really fear is what happens in a shark attack, particularly a great white shark attack, particularly with the great whites that inhabit the coastal waters of California. it's the image of staring down a giant gaping bloody razor-sharp tooth-filled maw bent on chomping into you--through you--in one giant great big massive gulp...and knowing there's nothing you can do about it.

and yes, i am well aware that science believes that sharks are generally afraid of humans and moreover that they do not like the taste of human flesh. but as i've said before, science also believes that sharks are generally blind and often unable to distinguish among different kinds of prey, and that the one way they do identify prey is to take a nibble--and unfortunately, a nibble to a shark (especially a great white shark) is the equivalent of a human body. it doesn't help that the reason great whites frequent California waters is for the plentiful supply of seals, which for a near-sighted near-blind creature in murky polluted California water look all too much like a human being paddling/surfing/swimming in a wetsuit.

and what really gets me is that the great white sharks off the California coast use breach attacks (i.e., they come up directly from below, accelerating to the point of launching themselves completely out of the water into the air). given how turbid and obscure the waters around Southern California are (while swimming you frequently can't even see your arm stretched out in front of you), this pretty much means the last thing you'll ever see in the event of an attack are the jaws engulfing you.

usually i can deal with this. the allure of surfing and the need for open-water swimming is generally sufficient to call on me to face and address my fears.

but it raises my hackles to see news items like this. especially when they report things like observing 12 great white breaches in a single location within a single 5-day period, with all of them within the presence of human beings. and these are only the breaches that were observed by people on the scene, meaning that there's no telling how many breaches there were when no one was watching. to me, this just raises the odds of a hungry great whites believing they're in a high-target feeding area making a mistake and eating a human...a human like me.

right now, all i can think about is surfing or swimming in open water off the beach and one of these great whites just coming up from below and breaching right into me in one monstrous massive mindless soulless horrific terrifying crunching crushing *snap* of jaws.



sharks. oh god. why does it have to be sharks?


Anonymous said...

Double great white attack on film!

Miles of the Journey said...

There are too many other places to swim than places with sharks, in my view. Sure the incidence of attacks is small but it is not small to the one's attacked. And, like you wrote, it is little consolation if the shark attacked you because it thought you were a seal.