A swimmer at a local beach was killed on Friday after being attacked by a shark. The poor guys ordeal was plastered on the TV for a bit. And certainly will have some local follow-up stories.. but that’s not what has caught my attention.
What I did notice was my attitude as a surfer.
Initially I craved all the information I could get… and then.. after hearing enough.. My brain did a funny thing. It said, “Well.. he was a swimmer.. not a surfer.”.. As if laying on my surfboard somehow protects me from the man in the grey suit (shark).
I don’t know how the triathaletes are reacting.. He was one of their clan. .. and as a surfer I acknowledge the similarities in our ocean activities… but for some reason.. my brain creates some distance.
Perhaps my love of surfing is so great that I know I won’t stop doing it.. Just like a golfer doesn’t stop golfing when someone gets struck by lightning.. But.. you _can_ see storm clouds.
We ocean-goers like to think we can sense the storm that is a shark. We say it’s “sharky.” And we notice things like changes in seal/sea lion activity.. but for the most part we don’t mention these activities until after someone has a shark encounter.
Another thing has already happened… surfers are wondering if this attack will mean less crowds in the water. This is disturbing. Here a fellow ocean lover has met his fate in a terrifying manner. His legs were mostly bitten off.. held on by his wet suit. His family certainly finds no solace in the fact that the shark didn’t stick around to finish the job.. No solace that the shark probably mistaked this healthy, retired man that was doing something he loved .. mistook him for a seal. … well.. perhaps there is a bit of solace in the fact that he was doing someting he loved.
But.. here it is a horrible situation.. and surfers are wondering if it’ll help them get more waves this year.
Don’t get me wrong.. I have these same thoughts.. I’m hoping that less people come to the beach so that I don’t have to fight for a parking spot. I don’t want to have to dodge people in the water. I’d love more waves.
I dunno.. I guess it is a peer pressure thing.. It feels like we’re supposed to change our habits because one of the herd got killed.. like the herd of zebra at the watering hole have all bolted for the hills.. but I’m still thirsty.
Maybe that’s what makes us surfers and triathaletes and boogie boarders and snorklers and other ocean lovers.. The fact that we know what could happen out there. We’ve accepted it. We’ve weighed the risks. We’ve decided it’s worth it.
So.. if someday I get bit by a shark.. and I don’t make it back to the beach.. Well.. Damn.. That wasn’t worth it at all.. was it. But, I’m still gonna surf.