You may have heard the recent story of a half eaten shark washing ashore on New Smyrna Beach, in Florida. This is where I live, and it’s the beach I visit most often. Usually shark stories involve people being bitten, but this time the shark got chomped, presumably by a much larger shark. And he did not live to brag about his shark bite scars!
The story was out there to read on many sites. Some made a big deal out of it, and others (mostly Florida based) did not. That is wildlife for you. The bigger stuff eats the smaller stuff. This time the smaller stuff was a five-foot shark.
I have a friend who finds it difficult to believe I will go swimming at Florida beaches. (He lives in Michigan) He’s read all the stats about Florida having the most unprovoked shark attacks, and (incorrectly) believes anyone who ventures into the ocean, or any water, in and around Florida will be putting themselves in danger.
Florida is full of creepy stuff. Animals AND people make up that category. We live among alligators, poisonous snakes, and big nasty spiders, and yes, predatory ocean life. But, just like the land creatures don’t keep us out of our yards, the sea creatures don’t keep us from swimming, surfing, and waterskiing.
We have to be careful and observant. Sharks can be found close to the coast all around Florida, but the bites tend to happen in certain spots more than others. The jetty, where the waves break, attracts surfers, and surfers tend to be the ones who get bit.
I have been lazing about in the warm ocean water just offshore only to see a large fish silhouetted in a wave. It’s pretty cool really. Or suddenly we spot a fin only a few yards away… is it a shark fin? We are not sure, so we hightail it out of the water. But we can’t stay out. And that fin may have been a dolphin or some other non life-threatening fish. We splash back in, our fears forgotten.
The weather is too hot to NOT go swimming. The water is too beautiful and warm to NOT enjoy it. The beauty and wonder overtakes the fear. So we swim and don’t worry about what might be out there swimming around near us. For the most part we are left alone and get back home unscathed, except for the sunburn where we missed with the sunscreen.
As I float in the unbelievably warm ocean, and feel the waves roll me up and down, it is my own little paradise. No negative thoughts allowed, and that includes sharks!
I can only pity my friend who does not know what he is missing.
(All photos on this page came from the free, public domain site, Pixabay)