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Diatribe: Running Toward A Shark On A Beach.

12/30/2013

SharkLast month, over the long Thanksgiving weekend, I was fortunate enough to spend some time on the beach.  It wasn’t warm enough to swim, and I’m not one for laying about sunning myself, but I enjoy walking along the surf.  I can walk for hours looking at the people, the birds and all of the flotsam and jetsam that wash up on the shoreline.

On this particular day, I came upon a shark.  It was a hammerhead shark, about six feet in length, and it was about ten to twelve feet from the edge of the surf.  It appeared to be in distress but it was difficult to know for sure.  As I watched from a distance, I was positively amazed by the number of people who gathered to see the shark as it flipped and flopped about at the edge of the surf.  Parents actually brought their small children to see the animal, pushing them just inches from the creatures jaws for a better look, as it continued to struggle.  At first it wasn’t clear if the shark was trapped in the shallow water or if it was injured or ill, but the crowd quickly learned that it had essentially beached itself in order to end its life.

Every movie, television show, or news story that I’d ever seen showed the crowd on the beach running AWAY from the shark as it approached the shore … but not these people.  They couldn’t wait to get close to the dangerous beast.

Recently, two young surfers were photobombed by what appeared to be a shark.  June Emerson didn’t realize she caught the shark in the photo featuring her twelve-year-old son and a friend in the water at California’s Manhattan Beach.  In the picture, the boys can be seen on their surfboards, preparing to ride a wave while just behind them a shark-life figure looms beneath the water’s surface.

“It was quite a shock to see.  Many local surfers and lifeguards have seen this and believe it to be a shark.  Of course, I told my kids it was a dolphin, as we live at the beach and are in the waters here almost daily.” – June Emerson.

It is unclear what type of shark that might be in the photo but there have recently been sightings of great white sharks in the area.

The fact that so many people on the beach last month hurriedly ran toward that hammerhead shark, cell phones in hand trying to capture video footage and photographs, rather than running away from the shark and toward safety, is frightening.  Furthermore, I’m a bit puzzled by a parent who would mislead their child into a false sense of safety when the possibility of a dangerous animal is quite real.

Would you run toward or away from a shark on the beach?

UPDATE 01/02/14: Photobombing ‘Shark’ Actually A Dolphin, Expert Says.

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12 Comments
  1. I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t tell my kids that they had been so close (although these days someone will). It would have terrified me as a kid. I think I would just wait a while to go back to the beach.

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  2. I try not to become a contestant for the Darwin Awards, which highlights people who made the worst and last decision of their lives. Putting a child close to a stranded shark would be one that I would not do. Having grown up in a city close to the ocean, they fish for sharks off the pier and the tour boats guides want you to see sharks, so they throw chum off the side to lure them in. So, there are now more shark sightings and bites near shore.

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  3. I would definitely get closer but keep a very safe distance. I’d keep any kids further away and firmly in my grasp.

    There was a story this weekend about a new program in Australia where they have equipped sharks (over 300 and counting) with transmitters that trigger a tweet when they get within a certain distance of places where people swim. It’s meant to prevent attacks while also providing scientific info on the sharks. I think you’d call this an Ovation.

    A happy and Healthy New Year to you and your’s!

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  4. thedogs'mother permalink

    Living on the northern coast it was Killer Whales who would like to come up and scope out the menu on our boat. Someone said, ‘well, there have been no documented attacks’ (at that time) and our salty Irish Sea captain, Paddy (yes, really) replied, ‘Aye, but dare ‘av been naw survivors.’

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  5. Around here, it’s bears. People jump out of their vehicles, grab their kids, and run toward them for a good pic. Once, a park ranger said “Excuse me, sir. Unless you’re planning on feeding that child TO the bear, I suggest you get back in your vehicle.”

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  6. We live in a world where nothing is ever enough for people. We are news and excitement junkies, not being able to look away. We think we are invincible… and the idea of making it big with a lawsuit, making someone else responsible for our lunacy, is the way to go. People would rather dart out into traffic and risk getting hit and making money than thinking about the consequences.

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  7. If I saw a shark I would definitely be running the other way!

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