No one dies! Shark or surfer!
This whole shark thing has got out of hand, wouldn’t y’say?
On the one side, the groovies who are firm in the belief that the life of every shark is god-like and therefore any attempt to mitigate growing populations is immoral and catastrophic.
On the other, pragmatists who believe sharks aren’t any different to the tuna we happily gorge on at the sushi carousel and therefore refuse to build shrines to the animal.
In a town like Ballina where the sudden arrival of Great Whites killed not just surfers but the whole surf buzz, it’s either net the beaches or don’t net ’em. And the problem, if you regard it as a problem, is that nets kill.
Drowning in the nets are the god-like shark, the happy turtle, the even happier and the even more photogenic dolphin and whale etc.
But what if I told that the shaper and possible wavepool inventor Greg Webber, whose brother Dan has become the defacto leader of the pragmatist camp, has designed a shark net that…doesn’t kill.
Webber’s shark enclosure wraps the surfer and swimmer up in metaphorical cotton wool but, through the use of pylons that move and keep the net taut and “little moving elements on the net that flutter enough in the flow of the wave that the entire net will be noticeable to any creature day or night”, it doesn’t trap the damn fish.
Greg sent the proposal, at his brother’s behest to the Senate Standing Committee inquiry into shark mitigation and deterrent measures, an ongoing investigation by the Australian government.
The design, which Greg says is cost-effective as well as non-lethal, took him two days to work out.
“I didn’t event to bother going public on this one. Everyone would just think it’s another crazy Webber idea.”
The net is real simple. Mouth-wateringly simple.
“The animation helps visualise the fact that despite tilting to a moderate degree there is always enough net above the waves to make sure nothing scary pops over the top,” says Greg.
Millions of people, thinking: I don’t want to go swimming in the ocean anymore. That’s not just an inconvenience. That’s taking away from us one of the most important things we can do. Which is to immerse ourselves in the ocean. It’s what we need to be doing more of, not less. We can’t be horrified of going into the ocean.
And the philosophy behind it all is beautiful.
“It’s not just surfers and swimmers but people, millions of people, thinking: I don’t want to go swimming in the ocean anymore. That’s not just an inconvenience. That’s taking away from us one of the most important things we can do. Which is to immerse ourselves in the ocean. It’s what we need to be doing more of, not less. We can’t be horrified of going into the ocean. So if we can’t kill the sharks we’ve gotta keep the two parties apart. There’s too much fighting, people hating each others’ guts over the issue, people virtue signalling online and it’s distracting from a moral issue.”