Life with the Ocean: Sharks & Surfers

Photo by Joanna Nasar.

By now most of us have seen the incredible footage of pro-surfer Mick Fanning fending off what experts are saying was likely a great white shark in the J-Bay Open in South Africa.

The video was dramatic, but thankfully Fanning and the shark both escaped the incident unharmed.

I love sharks and I love to surf.

Photo by Joanna Nasar.

I am by no means a good surfer and generally spend my time getting pummeled by the surf in locations that very few people actually surf. But I like it, even if I don’t catch a single wave, I still like being in the ocean. It’s good for the soul.

Sitting on a board in the giant ocean makes one think ‘hey, what’s swimming around down beneath me,’ and I think that engenders a certain sense of respect, and at the very least gives you a certain sense of scale. After all you are just a little person in a big sea.

So when I saw @WhySharksMatter post a story sharing Fox Newscasters take on the shark-surfer encounter at J-Bay I was saddened by what Fox & Friends co-host Brian Kilmeade said:

“You would think that they would have a way of clearing the waters before a competition of this level,” he opined. “But I guess they don’t.”

Implying that our oceans somehow be ‘cleared’ of sharks is a dangerous notion. But it is not a novel one.

It has been tried before and it is called culling. In Western Australia baited lines were attached to floating drums to catch sharks off popular beaches. This action caused international outrage, letters from hundreds of scientists [1] opposed to the harmful practice, and proved ineffective. Even the government’s own internal review board couldn’t figure out if it was even successful at reducing shark attacks because shark attacks —> Read More