Don't wanna die in the mouth of a shark? Stay out of the ocean! Who knew!
There’s one of those viral video clips doing the rounds at the moment. After the half-a-doz recent shark attacks in North Carolina, Tennessee gal Veronica-Pooh Nash Poleate (yeah, welcome to the south) filmed herself delivering an in-car sermon about dey fools who swim in the ocean.
“I’m on my way to church this morning, but I wanted to make a quick video because my spirit was troubled this morning. I had the news on and it was talking about somebody else done got ate up by a shark…
“The shark has the right to eat you up when you get in his house. Use some common sense if you are going to the beach. Go to the… beach. You watch the ocean from a distance.”
Twelve-and-a-half million views plus however many million hit it from here.
Every major news organisation from New York to London bit. Without exception, it lauded her “logical” and “epic” advice.
And that’s the thing with the pro-shark argument. Don’t wanna die? Stay out of the ocean. Simple. The world carved into black and white.
I don’t want to die in a twisted car wreck either but I’m not going to recoil at getting behind the wheel. Plummeting to the earth in an Airbus with all engines flamed-out don’t excite me too much either, but I’m still going to fly.
What usually follows the argument are the stats for getting hit by a shark. But take away the 95% of the world’s population who don’t go in the ocean, but who are included in the calculations for shark attack, take away another four per cent who don’t go past their knees, add the fact that you surf every day somewhere where there’s been a cluster of attacks and the odds shorten dramatically.
What this kinda homespun “common sense” also misses is, there’s a world of grey out there. What if you’re not for the destruction of sharks but you’ve got a few questions to ask before you hang up your sled?
As in, what if there is a sudden imbalance in the ocean?
Ask the surfers of Reunion Island, who lived with the occasional shark attack without complaint, but when a marine reserve made it a haven for bull sharks, surfers started dying en masse, kids included. Jeremy Flores went there for two weeks last year and didn’t surf once, even when the surf was pumping.
What about Byron Bay? A fatal every decade or so, now one every few months. And not the usual bull sharks and bronze whalers hanging around rivermouths but the mighty great white.
What about Western Australia? Quiet, now, but how long before a white surfaces with a lid or six-two in its mouth?
A year or so ago, I spoke to a shark fisherman from SA who said he and the other 50 or so shark fishermen there used to take a couple of hundred whites every year. He told me to do the sums since they were protected in 1999.
“Imagine, 200 times 50 times 15 years,” he said.
That’s a lot of White.