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Walk past a "Heavy Plant" warning and wonder vaguely if the trees thought it was for them; if whoever put it up had enough imag...

Friday, December 09, 2005

Shark season

With summer comes shark scares, yay! Most beaches here have shark sirens which are custom designed to scare the shite out of everybody, which is fair enough as nearly 5 meters of shark is going to give you a bit of a breathless moment anyway. However the ensuing panic of hundreds of people making a break for the shore may well excite the pointy-toothed leviathan - turning it from casual observer interested by all the funny soft pink things in the water to frenzied attacker confused by all the food suddenly trying to run away.


Everyone's reaction to a shark in the water must give the lifeguards a bit of a giggle. This quote is from the most recent news story where a good-sized shark was spotted off Bondi Beach:
"There were 100 people up the top screaming like monkeys," said Anthony Carroll, one of the lifeguards who went out on jet-skis to alert swimmers.
It looks like the Bondi shark is either hanging around or has brought a friend as another sizeable one was spotted at Tamarrama yesterday.

Critical habitat for sharks, and people surf here...It's not like people don't know there are sharks here. Divers specifically come to places like Gordons Bay and Clovelly to see the sharks. It is also extremely rare that people get bitten. It has been a year since anyone has been attacked and people were surprised when that happened. The guy who was attacked last Christmas was English. The shark bit his board so he punched it on the nose, got out of the water, got another board and went back in. Dozy pom. This was at Bronte Beach, which is about 1.5km from Bondi as the shark swims.

The beach that I live at, Maroubra, is listed as critical habitat for sharks and large fish, there are diving and fishing restrictions as you can see from the sign in the picture. It is also one of the most reliable surf breaks in Sydney and on any given day there will be at least ten people in the water on surfboards (most people who get attacked are surfing - wetsuits and surfboards make you look like food even more than if you are just swimming). I have not yet heard of anyone beeing attacked or even seeing a shark at Maroubra, probably because they treat the open water with a bit less complacence.

The normal air patrols that give the lifeguards early warning of big sharks close to shore do not have the funding to run this year and the police don't have the resources to do it instead so there are going to be a lot more of these scares this summer. I've decided I'm not going to let it bother me. If you get bitten you are profoundly unlucky and the chances of it happening are so small as to be comparable with being hit by lightning. I say this because I was in the ocean at seven this morning and it was a great way to wake up. Emily chose this as the moment to tell me about the shark scares and quickly freaked herself out and started jumping at shadows in the water, they turned out to be seaweed.