Writings

On Sharks and Tourism


August 4th, 2015

This year is the 40th Anniversary of the movie Jaws, based on the novel by Peter Benchley. To mark the occasion, America watched Sharknado 3, based on the napkin drawing by a stoner in Long Beach.

Jaws is one of those movies that makes me stop channel surfing. Sharknado 3 is the kind of movie that makes me understand why other countries hate us.

But the point of this blog is not to discuss how sharks can bite farmers in Oklahoma or wherever storms take Great Whites these days. My point is to focus on the dramatic increase in shark attacks this summer. Seems like there’s a story everyday of an unsuspecting surfer or swimmer losing a limb. Is it merely coincidence that it’s Jaws’ 40th Anniversary? Or is it likely that we’ll also see major golf course damage from gophers in 2020, when Caddyshack turns 40?

Regardless, whenever sharks attack, scientists get together and try to figure out why sharks are attacking. Then they go on the news and guess the reason — “warmer water”, “low food supply” or “maybe it’s their knock-out game”. Then they give the probability of someone getting bitten — “1 in 11 million” — as if an encounter with a beastly killing machine is the Powerball of outdoor activities. It’s all guesswork.

The fact is, we already know why there’s an increase in violent shark activity. You see, they’re sharks. They live in the ocean. We’re not sharks. We do not live in the ocean. That’s it. That’s the reason.

Imagine you live in a big city. Tourists hear about your city on websites and in brochures. They get to your city and do tourist stuff — don’t tip, block sidewalk traffic, use selfie sticks — and then don’t understand why locals can be a bit rude. Same thing in the ocean. We’re the tourists. Sharks are the locals. Perhaps they’re telling us that we’ve overstayed our welcome. Maybe they were okay with us hanging out at their place for a while, but then we got too comfortable — started peeing in their living room, making noise. They’ve had enough.

I’m not trying to get all Green Peace on you here, but I say we give the sharks some space, at least until we can prove that we know how to act like proper guests. Guests who respect our hosts enough to not mock them in sci-fi twister movies…for starters.

(This blog is dedicated to all those who won Nature’s Powerball. Get well soon.)

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