Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Unexpected consequences

Well, who knew being environmentally friendly could be so dangerous?

The waters off the east coast of Australia are much cleaner thanks to the efforts of the government and individuals. This has lead to an increase in fish! Yay! But... it's also given rise to an increase in bait fish close in shore. And what follows bait fish? Why dolphins... and sharks.

There have been three shark attacks in two days: one off Tasmania and two off New South Wales. Shark sightings have increased, too. Big sharks, giant sharks and today a hammerhead cruised off a popular Sydney beach, fat and happy.

Most swimmers and surfers aren't concerned, it is, after all, the sharks' natural habitat and if you go in... you take your chances.

Me, I don't go in at all. Yes, I'm a wuss, but for good reason. Some years ago I did dip a toe in, swam around and stood up to look around. There, swimming between me and the beach was a long, dark shadow, indolently gliding through the water.

Did I panic? Nah, I was too frozen with fear and I watched until I thought it was far enough away. Then I moved and moved fast since exploding into action turned the shark around.

I got to the beach before it got to me. I think the damn thing scared my suntan away I was so white - or so my sister said.

So no, I don't go into the water anymore. That's not to say this area is dangerous, it's not.

The problem I have is when news organisations (not pointing any fingers Channel Ten) call it a 'shark plague'. Sharks are an endangered species; there aren't enough to make a 'plague'. With more people in the water, a cleaner environment and shark breeding season, of course there'll be more sharks sited!

I'd like to say 'if you leave them alone, they'll leave you alone', but all three attacks were sudden and unexpected with the sharks disappearing soon after. And a shark isn't going to leave you alone if it thinks you're food.

So, I'll say that, statistically speaking, you're more likely to have an accident on the way to the beach than get bit by a beastie.

Me, I'd rather not tempt fate and to hell with statistics. I'm staying on terra firma.


Jason said...

I've never been to the beach, but if I did go, that's the two things I'd be afraid of: sharks and jellyfish. I don't do well with pain, and both sound like they hurt a lot. Of course, here in the states, I'm not sure how common sharks and jellyfish are, since I'm land locked, but I don't want to tempt fate, either.

Marina said...

OMG!! That would definitely put me off too! Not that I generally go in past my knees anyway, as my imagination is well able to supply graphic shark attack pictures without ever having seen one in the wild, as it were.

My kids are also frightened of stingrays since Steve Irwin died, and get nervous at every patch of seaweed or rock in the water.

Jaye Patrick said...

I'm with you there, Marina. That's what I thought it was, a rock... but then... it moved!