Close Call or Fair Warning?

Originally published on January 5, 2018.

I came across this Facebook video post by CoastfishTV. Their title was accurate. ‘Scary SHARK Encounter’. I say accurate because it sure as hell is scary, but also void of the word ‘attack’ unlike posts of the same by other sources. “White Shark Attacks Diver - Close Call”, “Great white shark headbutts diver in scary shark attack encounter” and “Diver lucky to escape great white shark attack.”

This revealing clip provides a glimpse of instinctual behaviors by one of the planet’s most efficient predators and reminds me of dovetailing topics that have held my focus since I was young. The evolving dynamic between man and beast and the ways different cultures around the world value natural resources. For sharks, public perceptions get stoked by portrayals of these animals in the media (including the social realm) and by Hollywood where they get typecast as the villain, more often than not. In reality, it is rare for human interactions with these large, carnivorous, wild predators in their natural habitat to result in serious injury or death. This footage provides a case in point.

Observations …

If it wanted him, the guy would be white shark poop with a statistic after his name. That was a territorial display and posture - pectoral fins straight down. Not even a taste test or we’d be having a different conversation. Although, the white, which appeared to be a male, did likely get a good whiff of neoprene during that brief contact. Not something it would normally eat. There’s no doubt this animal knew the divers were there for some time before that sequence played out. Circling in the murk before showing itself and its dominance. A solitary animal? Could reasonably be more in the immediate vicinity. One would never know. My guess is the divers didn’t stick around much longer to see what elevated level of aggression might have followed after this encounter. It’s rare footage of an apex predator interacting with humans. No harm. No foul.

White sharks are evolution perfected to play a crucial role in the overall balance of the world’s ocean and man’s existence. Not an overstatement when we consider just how much of earth’s population depends on protein from seafood to survive. One of the primary and primal causes of fear is ... the unknown. People that don’t get it, haven’t taken the time to. The more we know, the less we fear, and the more we sometimes might even respect what we once did not understand.

Thanks for reading. {sp}