So there was a shark attack last week not too far from where I surf. The guy got away without any injuries though—the big lug just gave his board a little taste-test. I’m sure there’s a wetsuit that got a thorough cleaning this weekend, and for the record, the guy was an out-of-towner. Maybe it was a local shark just keeping the line-up in order.
All joking aside, it keeps you on alert the next time you paddle out after hearing about this sort of thing. That odd swooshing of water a few yards off or the shadow that may or may not have just passed under your board...? You can’t let your imagination run wild but occasionally it does. The worst (or best?) part of it is there isn’t going to be any of that cinematic fin-rushing-up-from-afar crap if a great white does decide to go after you. I’m sure most surfers that have been attacked never even saw it coming. Great whites attack from underneath and it’s usually a case of mistaken identity. Of course that’s no consolation if Jaws takes a bite out of your thigh.
Seals and sea lions are usually on the menu, and incidentally, there’s a seal that frequents my regular break. Whenever I see the doe-eyed little guy it immediately gets my hackles up, especially when he’s closer to the beach than I am: it’s like, does he know something I don’t?
I honestly don’t believe surfing is inherently dangerous. I mean, of course there’s risk involved, but like any sport (and I hate to call surfing a sport) there is definitely a potential for injury. Yet most competent surfers know if conditions are beyond their ability. Sure, accidents happen, but by the numbers, the sheer amount of surfers in the water around the world at any given time compared to the amount of drowning reported, shark attacks, and other potentially-fatal incidents associated with the activity are relatively low.
And I actually read somewhere that more people get attacked by cows each year than by sharks.
Of course it’s probably a bit more frightening to have Jaws barreling up underneath you than Lulu the cow giving you a swift kick to the backside. Or whatever it is a cow does when it attacks.
At the end of the day, even though the linked incident took place just miles down the coast from where I usually surf, it won’t keep me from the water. I may pay a bit closer attention to that seal though. If he’s paddling in, I might think about doing the same.