Many things in life are pants-wetting frightening for me. Things like: walking down an unlit and unfamiliar road late at night; getting into a highway crash; being caught in flagrante (no, I don’t do that sort of thing these days, but I bet it’s pretty scary); being in a plane plummeting for earth; having to share a train-journey with either Don, Cherry or Trump. I’d prefer a Mafia ‘don’.
First off, other than in an aquarium I haven’t ever seen much in the way of sharks in the wild. I did see a goodly sized salmon shark when I was snorkeling in Baynes Sound a number of years ago, but that’s about it for my shark tales. Other than that it has been dogfish, which are sharks, too, but, you know, dogfish. I have snorkeled and swum in tropical waters many times, in Hawaii, the Cook Islands, Southern Mexico. No sharks. I invariably emerge from an azure seas dousing kind of disappointed. That’s because I find predators, both land and sea, much more interesting than their prey. That’s why, for example seeing an orca or a hawk or an eagle is always a great adrenaline boost for me and most of us. I think cougars are magnificent looking. Never have seen one of those in the wild either.
I have been pleased to see that Shark Week on Discovery Channel this time around has changed its focus from trying to evoke Jaws terror to a genuine scientific study of creatures that predate the dinosaurs. They are deserving of that sort of respect.
Last summer when we were in Hawaii we tripped out to a favorite beach on the Big Island. Guy there told us that if we were concerned there was a shark out in the bay. A number of people had seen it from the bluff that overlooked the beach. Did we stay out of the water? Not a chance. Disappointed a tiny bit I was that I did not see it.
A few days later we went on a manta ray diving expedition. The boat operator mentioned that when they were setting the big flood lights (to attract the rays) in place there was a white-tipped shark down below. Again, disappointment when I went in the water since it had gone.
Do I welcome a close encounter with one of the few species of really ‘dangerous’ ones, like a great white or a tiger or a mako or a bull? Not a chance. I am not a fool, and I know that once in a while sharks attack and sometimes even kill people. Actually, the dangerous shark (ruthlessly dangerous) around the Hawaiian Islands and in the South Pacific is not the great white, but the tiger. They’re mean bastards if they get a mind to be so. But I know also that I run a much greater risk of being killed just by driving to the beach that might have a shark present.
And I will not countenance the idea for a second that sharks are harvested by Asians to make fucking soup. Appalling and even those who consume it should be either hanged or put in the water with a ravenous great white with no cage in place.
So, at the end of the day is the great white the most dangerous critter in the sea? Nope, the top-of-the-food-chain honors go to the orca. Woo-hoo, killer whales rule!