Thursday, March 06, 2008

Shark Rant

So I'm getting a little annoyed by all the brouhaha surrounding the recent fatal shark attack in the Bahamas. Evidently a man died after going on a shark watching trip in which the dive operator chummed the area in a deep water location. Chumming isn't legal in many states, including Florida, which is why many tour operators have moved to the Bahamas. I recognize that many people have [mostly]irrational fears regarding the big fish species; however, I just tend to be a little ticked when they take them out on sharks. According to the International Shark Attack File, only a SINGLE person died last year of an unprovoked shark bite. One person. Jeez, look at the number of people killed in car accidents every year.

I can understand why many of you would be going: Why is she so concerned about sharks? Who cares? I know, it seems a bit silly. But I actually kind of like sharks. They're fascinating animals. Besides, doesn't this guy look friendly?!I think sharks are incredibly misunderstood and their numbers, worldwide, are suffering horribly, mostly due to the demented demand for shark fin soup. We're hoping to go diving with whale sharks on our trip to Belize and someday we'll do a cage dive with the great whites near Dyer Island off the coast of South Africa. And I want future generations to be able to do the same thing.

But I want to stress a couple differences between those dives (Belize, South Africa) and the ones that were being conducted off the coast of the Bahamas (and which resulted in 2008's first casualty). First of all, chumming is the process of throwing rotting fish guts into the water. Sharks have an incredible sense of smell; in fact, it's their primary method for finding prey (on many occasions). Second, this company was chumming in deep water. Smaller shark (nurse and reef) species tend to live in shallow waters and these sharks are relatively harmless. The bigger sharks like bull, tiger, lemon and white sharks live in the deep ocean and these species tend to be the more aggressive ones. I'd bet you big money that the shark that bit the Austrian dude was one of those. This company essentially promised food by throwing in the fish guts but failed to deliver. I'd say a handy scuba diver is the next best thing.

Ok, I'm done ranting for today. I'm off to go pack! Oh my poor Bails, I miss him already. I dropped him off at the doggie motel tonight (after a good romp at the dog park) and I keep looking down at my feet, wondering where my 100-lb foot warmer has gone off to.