The first and only time I went to the island of KONA in Hawaii, my wife and I went to a recommended beach but it was deserted.  I sign was posted saying sharks had been seen swimming in the area.  That pretty much kept me out of the water the rest of the vacation despite visiting a variety of beaches.

Enroute to a snorkeling cove (which I didn't partake) we saw a fairly large hammerhead shark swimming at the surface.  Exciting? Yes. Frightening? Just enough.

I have three strikes against me when it comes to sharks. One, I don't know how to swim so I am uncomfortable around water to begin with.  I took lessons a couple of times but never really got it.   Two, I grew up about 100 miles from the geographical center of North America which put me, in my formative years, about as far away from sharks and oceans in every direction as possible. Three, I was in the Army in 1975 and lived off base near Tacoma in an apartment complex where my balcony looked out on a drive-in movie lot which played JAWS all summer long!  Sharks? No Thanks.

Not counting me, we seem to have a national fascination with sharks.  Look up Shark Movies and Wikipedia tells you - "The following 87 pages are in this category, out of 87 total. This list may not reflect recent changes"  87 pages!

Then there is the Discovery Channel's Shark Week programming.  "Shark Week happens every year in July or August....Heaps of Americans grew up harboring a fascination with sharks and the never-stand-still, ruthless, killer instinct they embody. Discovery’s week of programming has become traditional fare for a generation of would-be shark scientists, in-cage filmmakers, and thrill-seekers."

While I don't care to meet them in their environment, my life long interest in animals inclines me to have an interest in these apex predators as well.  Two recent shark stories caught my eye.

United Press International reports on a Hawaiian vacation where a mom was recording her young child playing in the waves, and catching a shark on camera. That’s what happened to Sheri Gouveia, who said she was recording a video of her daughter at Kalama Beach in Kailu, Hawaii. During filming the girl suddenly bolted for the beach yelling that she’d seen a shark.  Her mom says she didn't see the shark but when she reviewed her footage she realized the shark had passed within just inches of her daughter! Experts reviewed the video and said it appears to be a blacktip shark, a species known to hunt for fish in shallow water. They say the girl was likely not in any danger from the shark.  "Not likely"?  That's not enough of reassurance for me!

And this.  An exception for a near deadly memory.  Newser reports that under South Australian state law, great white sharks are a protected species, and it’s illegal to possess any part of them, but authorities have finally made an exception and I guess it seems like a pretty fair move.

32 year old surfer Chris Blowes lost his leg, spent ten days in a coma and almost died from a 2015 shark attack.  The Great White that bit him left a tooth embedded in his surfboard which was turned over to fishery authorities. Blowes said he asked for the tooth several times over the last six years, but authorities only granted the first-ever exemption to the rule after a state government minister got involved.

This year Shark Week is August 9 thru 16 and that's as close as I want to come to these dangerous denizens of the deep!



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