gulf of mexico

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As a general rule, I don’t go into water inhabited by things that can eat me.  I grew up on a lake.  The biggest dangers were zebra mussels and E. Coli.  In 2002, I spent two months living on the Gulf Coast 100 yards from the beach.  The day we got there, one of my friends had an encounter with a sting ray.  I shuffled through the surf for the rest of my time there.  I completely freaked out one day when I saw fins, and was promptly told by a world-wise and oh-so-amused local that they were porpoises, not sharks.  (pause) But that the porpoises were dangerous too.  Rays, jellyfish, fish with pointy things, porpoises, sharks, and the ever-present fear of coming across a body thrown off an oil rig.  No thanks.  It really was pretty, and WARM water was totally new to me, but I’ll stick with lakes, thanks.

When I saw this today.  My heart stopped.  (but thankfully, promptly started again)

No, no, no, no, no, no!

No, no, no, no, no, no!

I read the NY Times article and was relieved to find out that “Marine biologists for the state of Massachusetts, [are] working with a commercial fisherman who is a talented swordfish harpooner,” but what they really need is a shark catcher.  I know comparisons to Jaws are obvious and uninspired but heysoos, sharks! here!  on the 4th of July!  Or, um, Labor Day, one of those holidays where we celebrate American’s plucky rebellion.

Thanks to “stubles22” for this observation that sounds JUST LIKE THE MAYOR OF AMITY!  “Really a big to do about nothing….sharks have been around Chatham forever, especially since the seal population has exploded. Closing the beach is silly; you’re more likely to get hit by lightning. Another media driven event!”

Revkin, A. (2009, September 6). White sharks cause stir on Cape Cod. The New York Times.
Retrieved from

Yes, I get that it’s a good story, we all have internalized Jaws.  Maybe some people have a more “rational” understanding of sharks than I do.  I grew up on Nova.  I remember seeing a Nova episode on sharks where a researcher went into the cage and down into the sharky deep.  She was wearing the marine version of chain mail.  A shark came up to the cage, bit at it, mangled the bars AND BIT HER THUMB.  It was all bloody and had dangly things.  I have an unfortunately vivid memory of this.  Possibly because I watched it dozens of times, but still, it’s terrifying.

Speaking of Nova.  I’m also terrified of alligators and crocodiles.  Damn public television.  It’s not fear of the teeth and the bone-crushing biting, it’s the barrel rolls.  So it would bite me, then try to (well, not try, it would) drown me.  So, I imagine that I would be bleeding profusely, going into shock, spinning around under water and seeing flashes of light above the water then murkiness, then light then murkiness.  I find prospect of seeing the light every rotation terrifying because it would be this flash of life/hope, then dark/dirt/death.  I am SERIOUSLY terrified of alligators and crocodiles.

My friends and I went camping in a place with all kinds of deadly snakes, but no alligators (there aren’t crocodiles anywhere near here, but there ARE alligators in this state).  We were too far away from the coast to be in alligator danger, but I decided that the place we were going is a place that alligators would go if they got lost.  Sort of like the manatee that ends up in the East River.  It happens.  Before we went, I read all about alligators, and viewed the alligator-hunting statistics for the entire state.  It showed how many alligators had been killed in each county.  Yes, I am REALLY afraid of alligators.   I learned from public television that alligators have a hard time changing directions, so if you HAVE to run from an alligator, your best bet is to run zig zag.  So, when we went camping, in this alligator-free county, I would NOT wear flip flops.  Because, how the heck do you run zig zag in flip flops?  What if an alligator floated on up the river, climbed up the steep bank and into our campsite?  I was in sensible Tevas with an ankle strap and ready to zig zag away.

I really like to be prepared . . .

I think I’m going to watch Jaws.

Have a safe Labor Day!

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