Maybe the shark attacks warrant another 600 words dedicated to the phenomenon at hand. It seems to be the hot topic along with the Confederate flag and marriage equality.
But with anything that includes the internet and social media, reader beware. The insurance commercial made the following line famous, “It is on the internet, so it must be true.” That is definitely not the case though.
Several shark photos have made their rounds lately with tag lines such as “just took this photo at the beach and look at all the sharks swimming in water less than knee deep” with a photo showing dozens if not hundreds of sharks. Someone started doing a little research, and found that many are photos that are just picked up off image searches and may be several years old. One guy posted a photo making the current rounds and then supplied a link to a USA Today article from a few years back in which the photo was attached.
Now that is not saying the sharks are not on the coast in droves right now. Quite the contrary, actually. The most shark attacks along our coast in one year on record was 2010 when we had five. As of the typing of this column, we have had seven in three weeks. With the July 4th holiday weekend and even more people visiting the coast, we will likely have at least another one or two.
I wrote a story a little over two months ago in which the only thing I was catching was sharks. I caught sharks on shrimp bait. I caught sharks using croaker or spot. I caught sharks on the croaker I was reeling in. I caught sharks attacking sharks that I was fighting to get in the boat.
As with anything now-a-day though, we seem to need an explanation. Well, an explanation is not really the word. We have to have someone to blame. While there are many factors into the abundance of sharks swimming and feeding (sharks swim and feed at the same time, so if you see a shark, the shark is likely looking for food) near our shorelines, the one that best explains it is a rise in sea turtle population and a huge abundance of bait fish located within the warm water near shore.
We cannot let that go though. Again, we need more than an explanation, we need something or someone to blame. Yes, climate change has already come up as a major contributor. I think, however, climate change will be used a reason for anything that happens for now and at least the near future.
I have heard and read that commercial fishing and shrimp boats are a leading factor. While I am sure there are some experts that will bring this up, I have not heard any as of yet. The experts still seem to stick to explanation rather than the blame. But there are some among the general populace that are adamant because they have made up their mind.
I also saw the other day where a moderately sized shark, maybe five or six feet in length, was reeled in from shore while people were playing and swimming in the ocean waves nearby. The first reaction is “why would they actively fish for sharks there if people and kids are playing in the water?” I understand that reaction.
But I counter. Remember, we have had a lot of shark attacks already in the last few weeks. A surf fisherman catches a shark near kids swimming and playing. The surf fisherman did not attract the shark to the beach. The surf fisherman attracted a shark already swimming there to his bait. The shark was already swimming there. As stated before, sharks feed and swim at the same time. The sharks are swimming there because there is already food there. The angler did the beach a favor by showing the people playing in the water that sharks are right there, they are hungry, and they will eat.
Don’t blame the angler. Accept the explanation that the sharks are already at the beach because real live food not on the end of a hook is also already at the beach.